With the Ravens 24-9 victory over the Colts Sunday in Baltimore, Head John Harbaugh and his quarterback Joe Flacco have matched the successful starts that Hall Of Fame head coach Paul Brown and Hall of Fame quarterback Otto Graham of the Cleveland Browns had to begin their professional careers.
Harbaugh was named head coach of the Ravens for 2008, and Joe Flacco was plucked from the University of Delaware in the first round of the 2008 draft to be the Ravens future franchise QB. As it turned out due to injury and illness the future became now, as Flacco assumed the signal calling duties for opening day 2008.
He led the Ravens to a wild card berth in the 2008 playoffs, beating the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans along the way for the right to meet the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC championship game. The Ravens lost 23-14 but it began a string of 5 consecutive playoff appearances for the duo.
Along the way, they have won their first playoff game each year that they have been in the league, not only beating the Dolphins and Titans in 2008, but they were also victorious in the playoffs against the Patriots in 2009, the Chiefs in 2010, Houston is 2011, and now the Colts in 2012. Five years in the league and a playoff victory in each of those seasons.
Quite an accomplishment, especially when considering that with the win yesterday they tied the aforementioned football legends Brown and Graham who won post-season games in their first five years together, 1946 to 1950.
When the new All America Football Conference was formed in 1946, the Browns became the class of the league, winning the title every year of the league’s existence, 1946-1949. They beat the New York Yankees for the title in 1946 and 1947, the Buffalo Bills in 1948 and the San Francisco 49ers in 1949. Along the way the Browns compiled a regular season record of 47-4-1 those 4 years, and were 5-0 in the AAFC post season.
In 1948 they posted the first unbeaten and united record in pro football history, going 14-0 in the regular season before winning the title game against the 49ers, a record that was tied by the 1972 Miami Dolphins.
In 1950 the Browns, San Francisco 49ers and the original Baltimore Colts, who wore green and silver merged with the NFL. In their fifth year together, Brown and Graham defeated the Giants 8-3 in the divisional playoffs and then the Los Angeles Rams in an exciting NFL title game 30-28, marking the fifth consecutive year they won a post-season game together.
The duo nearly won a post-season game in their sixth season together but they lost 24-17 on a last second Norm Van Brocklin to Tom Fears scoring toss to put the Los Angeles Rams in the 1951 NFL title game. Yet even in defeat it was a widely held opinion that Brown and Graham’s five-year run would stand the test of time.
Yet this weekend, the legendary pair got some company as John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco matched these pro football immortals.
Congrats are in order for the oft-criticized head coach and quarterback.