Joe Flacco keeps his diamond-encrusted Super Bowl ring locked away for safekeeping, a glistening reminder of his greatest triumph as a quarterback.

The ring is something that separates the Ravens quarterback from Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton heading into Sunday's season opener between the AFC North rivals at M&T Bank Stadium.

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While Flacco already has won a Super Bowl, including being named the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XLVII, and reached the AFC championship game three times, Dalton is winless in his three career playoff games.

"The biggest thing that Joe has done is, he's won the Super Bowl," Dalton said during a conference call with Baltimore reporters last week. "He's had a really good career, and obviously, the goal of everybody playing this game is to win Super Bowls. That's what I'm working towards, and hopefully [I'll] be able to accomplish it in my career."

Both Flacco and Dalton have been rewarded with hefty contracts, with Flacco trumping Dalton financially with a six-year, $120.6 million deal that includes $51 million guaranteed. Dalton got paid this year with a six-year, $97 million extension that had just $17 million guaranteed.

Both Flacco and Dalton have never missed a start in their careers -- Flacco enters his seventh NFL season and Dalton is going into his fourth. Dalton has passed for 11,360 career yards with 80 touchdowns and 49 interceptions. During his first three NFL seasons, Flacco passed for 10,206 yards, 60 touchdowns and 34 interceptions.

"If you look at the start of our careers, I think they're similar," Dalton said. "Obviously, we're a different type of player, but there definitely are some similarities in what we've been able to do since being in the NFL."

Yet, Dalton has just one touchdown pass and six interceptions in the playoffs.

During a 27-10 playoff loss to the San Diego Chargers in January, Dalton completed 29 of 51 passes for 334 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He fumbled twice in that game, losing one.

Dalton readily acknowledged that the Bengals' playoff performances have been substandard.

"That's the main thing that everybody is talking about right now," Dalton said. "Until we win one, people are going to keep saying that we haven't done it and we can't do it."

During his first three seasons, Flacco won four of seven playoff games.

He's now 9-4 overall in the postseason and only has missed the playoffs once in his career, when the Ravens finished 8-8 last season.

"Both quarterbacks, as young players, have done a good job for their football teams," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "Obviously, we're trying to get Andy to where Joe has been. Joe is an excellent player, and we just have to do a great job of defending him and their offense."

awilson@baltsun.com

twitter.com/RavensInsider

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