NEW ORLEANS Quarterback Joe Flacco put off contract talks with the Baltimore Ravens until after the season was over.
Seems like a terrific decision now, huh? Capping a perfect postseason, the unassuming and unheralded Flacco completed 22 of 33 passes for 287 yards and three first-half touchdowns Sunday, earning Super Bowl MVP honors for leading the Ravens over the 49ers.
It was a back-and-forth game oddly interrupted more than a half-hour by a power outage.
"We gave the country a pretty good game to watch," Flacco said.
He sure did his part, especially at the outset.
Flacco set aside any questions about just how good he is and whether he belongs in the conversation about the league's best quarterbacks, becoming only the sixth in 47 Super Bowls to throw for three scores in a first half. He connected with Anquan Boldin for 13 yards, Dennis Pitta for one, and Jacoby Jones for 56.
"Now they're gonna have to talk about Joe Flacco," center Matt Birk said. "Joe's a stud. He showed it tonight."
Not just Sunday, actually.
The admittedly mild-mannered guy, who played his college football far from the spotlight at Delaware, wrapped up Baltimore's four-game run to the title with a record-equaling 11 touchdown passes and zero interceptions, going 73 of 126 for 1,140 yards.
It was an impressive streak that included road victories against two of the game's most respected quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, and a first-round home win against No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck.
"I'm a Joe Flacco fan. I've been a Joe Flacco fan," said Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who ended his 17-year career with a second championship. "To do what he did today, that's what we always see."
Flacco's contract is up now. And he could wind up with one of the biggest deals in NFL history, perhaps commanding somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million a year.
There would have been an opportunity to sign something last offseason, but Flacco's agent and the Ravens could not agree on how much he was worth.
The rest of the world wasn't really certain, either.
Flacco delivered quite an answer Sunday.
"He's taken a lot of criticism over his career, for whatever reason," Pitta said.
"But we've always believed in him. We've known the kind of player that he is. He's showed up on the biggest stage and performed."