After defeating a one-dimensional Pittsburgh Steelers team Saturday, Baltimore Ravens Coach John Harbaugh took to the podium.
“That’s Joe Flacco. He’s the best quarterback in football. We’d take him any day of the week, twice on Sunday — or Saturday night, if that be the case.”
What? Joe Flacco, the best? In a postseason that includes two of the top five passers of all-time?
Certainly after a season in which Flacco posted a career-high 3,986 passing yards — which was still only good for 12th-best in the NFL — he couldn’t have meant statistically, right?
Flacco is not the best quarterback in the NFL statistically or otherwise, but when it comes to the postseason, there’s a not-entirely unfounded argument to be made that he’s been the best when it has mattered most in the last five years.
He has a 10-4 career postseason record, including a win and an MVP award in Super Bowl XLVII. The Ravens are 7-2 in playoff games that he has started since 2010, and Flacco has 20 touchdowns and just three interceptions during that time. That ability to manage and protect the ball has made Baltimore incredibly difficult to beat. After Saturday’s win, Flacco has thrown 166 consecutive postseason passes without an interception, which is the fourth-longest streak in NFL history. He also became just the third quarterback in NFL history to post a rating of more than 100 for at least five consecutive postseason games.
What’s perhaps even more tantalizing is the matchup Saturday will produce: Baltimore vs. New England.
Tom Brady is considered by many to be the best playoff quarterback ever. His name is on plenty of all-time leader boards: most playoff victories of any quarterback (18), two touchdowns away from the record for most career playoff touchdowns thrown by a quarterback (45), ranks second on the all-time career postseason passing yards list and ranks first in career passes completed (590). Lest we forget that had it not been for New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis, Drew Bledsoe — who had signed a 10-year, $100 million contract prior to the 2000-01 season — would’ve remained the starting quarterback of the Patriots for the foreseeable future, and Brady’s path to stardom would’ve been much different.
The one leader board that Brady sits below the top rung is career passer rating, where he ranks 13th; Joe Flacco coincidentally is 12th.
Both teams rank in the bottom half of the league in pass defense and give up more than 330 yards of total offense per game. Saturday should provide an excellent opportunity to watch two of the best postseason quarterbacks — the best of the past five years and arguably the best ever — decide who will be moving on.
Josh Planos has had his work featured at the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, Vice, CBS Sports Radio, Fox Sports Radio and ESPN Radio. He’s currently a Digital Editor at KETV NewsWatch 7 and a freelance writer. You can find him on Twitter (@JPlanos).