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Flacco beats Brady after knocking off Manning

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Flacco beats Brady after knocking off Manning

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Joe Flacco beat two of the NFL's greatest quarterbacks to get the Baltimore Ravens to the Super Bowl.

Now he's the man with the rich resume going into the biggest game of his life.

Flacco helped end Tom Brady's season one week after he did the same to Peyton Manning, throwing three touchdown passes in the second half and leading the Ravens to a 28-13 win over the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game Sunday.

``We didn't come all the way here to play it safe and hope to win,'' Flacco said. ``We came here and we were in the AFC championship game and you have to go play to win.''

Do that one more time, against the San Francisco 49ers, and he'll add a Super Bowl championship to a stellar postseason record.

He'll just have to outplay first-year starter Colin Kaepernick. Finally, he's the quarterback to beat.

``He's a great quarterback,'' said wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who caught two touchdown passes. ``I don't know why people keep doubting him because the bigger the situation is, the bigger he plays, and he's proven that time and time again.''

The 49ers, though, opened as 5-point favorites for the NFL championship game.

Flacco completed 21 of 36 passes for 240 yards against the Patriots. One week earlier, he completed 18 of 34 passes for a postseason franchise record 331 yards in a 38-35 double-overtime win over Manning and the Denver Broncos. In each game he threw for three touchdowns - and no interceptions.

Brady was 29 for 54 for 320 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. And Manning went 28 for 43 for 290 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Oh, and Flacco beat the Indianapolis Colts and rookie quarterback Andrew Luck 24-9 in the wild-card round.

``We've always believed in Joe,'' coach John Harbaugh said, ``and for Joe to come out and to have this kind of a game and this kind of a stage three weeks in a row - Luck's a pretty good quarterback, Manning's a pretty good quarterback and Brady's a great quarterback.

``All those guys are great players, but Joe's a great quarterback. And Joe has proven that. He's not just proven it this year, he's proven it for five years.''

Flacco won his sixth postseason game on the road, the most in NFL history. He is the only quarterback with a postseason victory on each of his first five seasons during the Super Bowl era. He's 8-4 in playoff games.

His 62 victories, including the postseason, are more than any NFL quarterback since the start of the 2008 season.

More than Brady. More than Manning.

And now the 18th pick of the 2008 draft out who didn't play at a small-time school - he was a star at Delaware - he's going to the NFL championship game for the first time.

``From the first snap (when) he went against our defense, I knew he was a smart guy,'' safety Ed Reed said. ``He blitzed him and he threw it straight to the sideline out of bounds because he knew we were coming. He's always been a leader (with) more than potential to lead us to where we're going right now.''

It looked like he would lead the Ravens right out of the postseason in the first half when he completed just 6 of 12 passes for 81 yards with no touchdowns. But in the second half he went 15 for 24 for 159 yards with all three touchdowns.

``We hadn't gotten much going on offense,'' he said. ``They do a good job stopping the run and we knew we had to come out here in the second half and make some plays in the passing game.''

The Ravens didn't do that on their first series in the third quarter.

Then Flacco got rolling.

On his next three series he threw touchdown passes of 5 yards to Dennis Pitta and 3 yards and 11 yards to Boldin- all in a span of 10:01.

Just like that, a 13-7 deficit was replaced by a 28-13 lead.

With Flacco at the helm.

``These games are tough to win and we've put ourselves in the position to win these games and, eventually, you're going to push through and play the way you need to,'' he said.

No matter who the opposing quarterback is.

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Ravens mock draft roundup: Mike Williams continues to pop up

Ravens mock draft roundup: Mike Williams continues to pop up

Just over a month away from the NFL Draft, mock drafts across sport media sites are beginning to narrow in on players that fit specifically into blaring holes on a team's roster.

As the first wave of free agency has come through, a majority of the top names at each position has been snatched up. While the Baltimore Ravens can still sign a handful of free agents on the open market, getting backup or a young star in a key position can be a the primary goal. 

Here's a look at who some of the various analysts have the Ravens taking with their No. 16 pick in the first round. The general consensus is help in the defensive secondary and at the wide receiver position.

DE Taco Charlton, Michigan, Ben Standig, CSN-Mid Atlantic

Standing: At some point the Ravens must find an edge pass rushing replacement for Terrell Suggs. Charlton might be better stopping the run than rushing the passer right now and yet he had nine sacks in 10 regular season games.  

SEE STANDIG'S FULL 2017 MOCK DRAFT

SS Jabrill Peppers, Michigan, Rob Rang, CBS Sports

Rang: With starting safety Matt Elam a pending free agent and Eric Weddle poised to enter his 11th NFL season, the Ravens may very well be looking for help in the secondary in the 2017 draft. Peppers starred as a linebacker in 2016 but possesses the agility and speed to handle coverage.

WR Mike Williams, Clemson, Dane Brugler, CBS Sports

Brugler: The Ravens have plenty of speed at receiver, but only average size. Williams has only average speed, but his body control, catch radius and overall size are where he shines.

WR John Ross, Washington, Bucky Brooks, NFL.com

Brooks: An electric playmaker with speed to burn would be a welcome addition to an offense that wants to play long ball with Joe Flacco at quarterback.

DE Charles Harris, Missouri, Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com

Jeremiah: Harris is a very productive edge rusher who is plenty athletic enough to drop in coverage if needed.

WR Mike Williams, Clemson, Chris Burke, SI.com

Burke: Baltimore has two receivers, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, who can scorch defenses deep. They need a physical, intermediate threat. Check.

CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama, Peter Schragers, FOX Sports

Schragers: I seem to be a lot higher on Humphrey than other mock draft pundits. Oh well. I’ll ride with the star of the Alabama defensive backfield from last season. The son of NFL running back Bobby Humphrey, he was a stud at the well-known Hoover High and a prime recruit of Nick Saban’s. An opportunistic player who started for two seasons in Tuscaloosa, Humphrey forced three fumbles and intercepted two passes in 2016. Baltimore already has added Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson to its defensive backfield but might not be done.

RELATED: REDSKINS MOCK DRAFT ROUNDUP

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Ravens' Tony Jefferson used Madden to help make free agent decision

Ravens' Tony Jefferson used Madden to help make free agent decision

The Ravens' newly signed Safety Tony Jefferson had some interesting criteria when it came to choosing which team he would sign with during free agency.

The 25-year-old former Cardinals defensive back was a hot prospect on the market this off season. He signed a four-year deal worth $34 million with $19 million guaranteed on the first day of free agency. He had an offer from the Browns for more money but told NFL Network that he didn’t take the offer simply because “ I don’t play football for money.”

Other important criteria when it came to picking a team? What uniform looked best on Jefferson, and to see which one looked best on him he used Madden. He told NFL Media:

“I am a guy of swagger, so I gotta check the swag at all points before I make a decision. I put myself in different uniforms on Madden to see what will look better. Ravens did look good, though.”

His favorite uniform combination of the Ravens? Black on black.

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 6.0

Jefferson mentioned to NFL Media that fellow Ravens Safety Eric Weddle reached out and sold him on signing with the team. The demeanor of head coach John Harbaugh and how the Ravens run their front office also helped him make his decision.   

“ [Ravens coach John Harbaugh is an] exciting dude. He talks to his players, and Eric was telling me that the coaching staff and front office guys aren't like other front offices. They actually enjoy being with their players and talking to them and let you be who you are. Just stay in the confines of the organization and don't draw any negative attention.”