Flacco, Boldin Among Ravens Who Aren't Ordinary Joes
After a season full of big games for the Baltimore Ravens, the franchise has a clear identity and idea of who they can rely on in the most important situations. It's impossible to win the Super Bowl without multiple big-game players on the roster and the Ravens are fortunate to be retaining most of their big-game performers as they attempt to defend their crown.
Most importantly, QB Joe Flacco once again proved that he is as good as any player in the league when the pressure is ratcheted up to the highest level. Flacco had below-average production for a player who is supposedly one of the best in the league at his position during the regular season, finishing the year with 22 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and an 87.7 QB rating. Once the playoffs began, however, the Ravens’ fifth-year quarterback played his best football. He averaged nearly 300 yards passing, threw for 11 touchdowns and did not record an interception in 126 postseason attempts.
If Flacco is as clutch as they come, then WR Anquan Boldin has to be on the same level. Much like his quarterback, Boldin did little to spark the imagination in the regular season – finishing with a mediocre 65 receptions, 921 yards and four touchdowns in 16 games. But in the playoffs, he had 22 receptions for 380 yards and four touchdowns in just four games. Those receptions included big play after big play when the Ravens desperately needed something on offense.
On the defensive side of the ball, MLB Ray Lewis may be retired, but the reality is he didn't make much of an impact in the team's bigger games. A combination of Lewis' age and his triceps injury ultimately reduced his actual impact on the field and left him much more of a focus in the media than in an opponents’ gameplan. Instead of looking to Lewis, the Ravens got big performances from DE Arthur Jones, CB Jimmy Smith and LB Dannell Ellerbe. While none of those players are exactly household names, their impact on the field in the Super Bowl did not go unnoticed.
OLB Paul Kruger had two sacks in the Super Bowl and would definitely be considered a big-game player for the Ravens if it wasn't for his uncertain free-agency status. Expectations are that Kruger will be very difficult to re-sign because of the market that is expected to develop for him. This league is desperate for pass rushers right now, so Kruger's skill-set will always attract interest even if his all-around game isn't exactly deserving of it.