View Photo Gallery: Joe Flacco’s Ravens may have lost to the Patriots, but he out-performed Tom Brady in the AFC title game.

Let’s face it, the NFL playoffs are a crapshoot. We all know that you need a great quarterback to get you to the playoffs on a consistent basis. But when it comes down to wins and losses in January, a quarterback or team simply needs a good dose of good fortune.

Let’s look at how we’re currently dissecting our Super Bowl quarterbacks. Both are great quarterbacks, with Tom Brady probably being the best quarterback in the history of the game. However, both Brady and Eli Manning have had major luck on their side last week.

Baltimore’s much-maligned signal caller Joe Flacco did not — and he outperformed them both.

Let’s take Manning. Every story I have read is paying homage to his “grit” and “toughness.” However, people are forgetting how very un-clutch he was down the stretch. Tied at 17 with 5:39 left in regulation, Manning had five possessions (including two in overtime), which resulted in five punts. He was 8 for 13 for 64 yards, and took two sacks down the stretch (73.9 passer rating).

He also converted on zero third downs in five attempts. Luckily for him, on the Giants’ sixth possession, they took advantage of a Kyle Williams fumbled punt, and went on to win the game on a Lawrence Tynes field goal. Manning played no role on that drive, after the Giants ran it four times to get 18 yards closer for the 31-yarder.

So in review, Manning had five opportunities to be a hero and failed on each, yet he’s still deemed the hero. After all, isn’t it convenient to forget how easily we could be praising Alex Smith (who was even worse than Manning down the stretch), if the Ahmad Bradshaw fumble wasn’t considered “forward progress” just before the two-minute warning?

On the other hand, we have Tom Brady, whose team advanced after a missed field goal by Billy Cundiff, and a dropped touchdown pass by Lee Evans in the final moments. Brady was also sorely outplayed by his counter-part, Flacco.

Flacco is a polarizing quarterback. Because his team has Ray Lewis and other familiar faces, people are under the impression that their defense is still is as good as the unit that led Baltimore to a Super Bowl title in 2000 (not even close), and that they are carrying the team in spite of Flacco. However, people are forgetting that Flacco is a really good quarterback.

Flacco took over a 5-11 team in 2008 and has won 44 out of 64 regular season games since. In fact, since he’s been in the league he’s had the second-most wins out of any quarterback (Drew Brees has the most with 45 wins). He has more wins than Brady, Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger in that span. This is not including at least one playoff win in every year.

However, after driving his team 65 yards in less than a minute, Flacco was simply two bad breaks from reaching the Super Bowl. If Evans catches his pass (which was perfectly thrown), Flacco is looked upon in a totally different light. Now? He most likely has to play out the 2012 season before Baltimore gives him a contract extension, and one more year of everyone forgetting that “Oh yeah, Flacco’s actually really good.”

Tough break.

More NFL playoffs coverage from Washington Post Sports:

The League: Tom Brady, Eli Manning keep Super Bowl focus on QBs

Hamilton: NBC lucks out with Tom vs. Eli Super Bowl matchup

Mike Wise: Cundiff’s missed field goal is a horrible end to a game that had everything

Early Lead: Who will win Super Bowl XLVI?