Usually stoic and low-key on the field and during interviews, Flacco took exception a question about elite quarterbacks that have recently won Super Bowls.
"If you look at the teams that won, yeah you can look at the quarterbacks but that’s just because you guys, ESPN, everybody wants to pump them up as being the best quarterback that year," Flacco said. "It’s really going to come down to what team is the best. I’m sure if we win, I’ll have nothing to do with why we won, according to you guys. It is what it is. We’re going to do our best to try to win it and it doesn’t really matter what the reason is."
Flacco said he isn’t affected by criticism of his play or whether he gets enough credit even though it certainly sounds like it sticks in his craw at least a bit.
"I don’t care," said Flacco, who has gone 44-20 since being drafted in the first round and has never missed a start. "We’ve won a lot of games around here. This is the second year in a row we’ve won 12 games, I could care less. At the end of the day, do you see the criticism sometimes and say, ‘What the hell are they talking about?
"Yeah, but who cares, you know. It all comes down to three games now: win this one, win the next one and win the Super Bowl. What are they going to say? That’s what we got to do, that’s what I got to do. I’m not really thinking about anything else."
The Ravens have been throwing a lot less lately, and relying heavily on Rice.
The Ravens won a Super Bowl before with quarterback Trent Dilfer managing the game and handing off to Jamal Lewis while a dominant defense set records.
Is that in the offing again?
"I don’t care if people look at it that that way, I don’t necessarily see it that way," Flacco said. "You guys want everybody to be Aaron Rodgers and be Tom Brady, but you guys do realize, those guys don’t run the ball? If we try to do that, the criticism that we’d take around here would be ridiculous.
"We could win eight games like that and we could lose one and you guys would be like, ‘Oh man, what are you guys doing?’ This is what you guys said you wanted and if you lose one game, oh my God. You guys got to remember that. You guys want an elite quarterback. You have to stop complaining when we go out there and throw the ball 60 times a game."
As far as Kubiak is concerned, Flacco is the real deal.
Flacco passed for 305 yards against Houston in the first meeting.
"I’ve been very impressed," Kubiak said. "I think he’s a hell of a player. If you’re a starting quarterback in this league, you’re going to get criticized, and that’s part of it. Look what he’s done with this team, where he has taken them and the job that he’s done.
"To me, he’s done a great job. I’ve always been impressed. I was impressed from the day I visited with him in Indianapolis a couple years ago. He’s got it all under control. That’s what you have to have back there, especially this time of year, in this business."
Flacco passed for 3,610 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this season.
"Joe Flacco is our quarterback," Harbaugh said. "We think he’s a great player, he’s a great person and the best is yet to come. With Joe, like every quarterback, you watch the curve and you watch them develop and grow. And we’ve all had a front-row seat.
"So, you see the good, you see the not-so-good, with any player. Joe has been overwhelmingly good, and he’s only going to get better. I just can’t wait to see it, and I’m looking forward to seeing it on Sunday."