By Jeff Zrebiec
1:24 PM EST, January 17, 2012
Say this for Joe Flacco - and this certainly bodes well for the Ravens heading into their showdown with the New England Patriots Sunday in the AFC Championship game - the much-maligned quarterback has certainly been at his best in his team's biggest games this season.
The Ravens are 7-0 this season against 2011 playoff teams and one of the reasons for that is Flacco has been able to make plays and keep the ball out of harm's way.
In those seven games, Flacco has thrown 10 touchdown passes and just two interceptions. He also has completed 126 of his 202 pass attempts, good for a completion percentage of 62 percent. Flacco's completion percentage for the regular season was 57.6, a career low.
And also worth mentioning, those sevens wins were all over defenses ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in terms of yards allowed. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans, who the Ravens beat twice each this season, are the No.1 and 2-ranked defenses respectively. The San Francisco 49ers, who the Ravens beat 16-6 on Thanksgiving night in the Harbaugh Bowl, are ranked fourth in terms of yards allowed, while the Cincinnati Bengals, who the Ravens also swept, are ranked seventh.
The Patriots, by the way, ranked second to last in the NFL during the regular season, allowing 411.1 yards per game. Only the Green Bay Packers (411.6) surrendered more.
Flacco is coming off an uneven performance in which he went 14-for-27 for 176 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the Ravens' 20-13 victory over the Texans on Sunday. He was also sacked five times by a relentless Texans' pass rush.
"I can just tell you in this last game, he won, and his quarterback rating was what, 97?," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "That's a winning performance, and Joe - I told him [Sunday] night - I thought he played very, very well. In a lot of situations in this game when he was under duress, he handled himself really well. There were plenty of things he'd like to have back and could have done better, and he'd be the first to tell you that. So, you just try to get better, you try to improve and you try to play winning football, no matter what position you play. And that's what we value around here."
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