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Ravens' Flacco trying to add Super Bowl to resume

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Ravens' Flacco trying to add Super Bowl to resume

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) Maybe it's going to take a trip to the Super Bowl to convince those outside the Baltimore Ravens' locker room that Joe Flacco is an elite NFL quarterback.

Flacco is the only starting quarterback in NFL history to reach the postseason in each of his first five seasons. His 61 victories (including the postseason) are more than any NFL quarterback since the start of the 2008 season.

Flacco has won five road playoff games in his career, tied with Eli Manning for the most in NFL history. Joe Montana didn't do it. Neither did Brett Favre, Steve Young, Troy Aikman or Peyton Manning.

Each of those greats, however, owns a Super Bowl ring. So does Tom Brady, who will lead the New England Patriots (13-4) in Sunday's AFC championship rematch against the Ravens (12-6).

Flacco's teammates don't care about how his resume stacks up against the other greats in the game.

``That's a question you guys have got to answer,'' wide receiver Anquan Boldin told reporters this week. ``He already has our respect.''

Flacco's 7-4 record in the postseason speaks loudly about his ability to excel in big games. The former first-round draft pick out of Delaware outplayed Peyton Manning last weekend, throwing for 331 yards - including a 70-yard strike to Jacoby Jones in the closing seconds of regulation to force overtime in a game the Ravens ultimately won 38-35.

The touchdown pass to Jones might have thrust Flacco into the discussion about whether he can stand among the elite.

``You go out there and you play to win the football game and some of the things that have been required to win these football games have maybe been a little bit over the top and a little abnormal,'' Flacco said. ``I would like to think that I go out there and play consistently and approach everything the same way. I think that's been proved out. We win a lot of football games around here, and this is actually the third time I'm standing up here getting ready to play in an AFC championship game.

``It's pretty crazy when you think about it.''

The guy is good. So far, not quite good enough to take his team to the Super Bowl. But he's taken the Ravens to the brink, and hasn't missed a start since earning the job as a rookie in training camp.

``We love Joe, have for a long time,'' center Matt Birk said. ``You're always going to have naysayers out there, but we're not concerned about that. The great thing about Joe is, neither is he. Joe is very comfortable with who he is and the type of player he is. That's a great trait for a leader to have, especially a quarterback in the NFL.''

He's got another great trait for a quarterback: The ability to throw the deep ball. Few have done it as well this season as Flacco, who has completed 46 passes of 25 yards or longer, including TD throws of 70, 59 and 32 yards last week in Denver.

Asked to describe Flacco's deep ball, Jones replied, ``It's like a Starburst. It's just juicy, man. It's good. It's like candy. Everybody likes candy.''

On the Ravens, it seems like everyone likes Joe.

``I've never played with a guy with that much talent; I'm talking about physically,'' Boldin said. ``I think Joe is able to make any throw on the field. Big-time throws, the deep ball, he does it all.''

Flacco is known among his teammates as Joe Cool because of his calm demeanor in the huddle and the pocket.

``He doesn't flinch in any situation,'' wide receiver Torrey Smith said. ``That's what we like about him. He's the same, whether we're doing well or bad, and you can trust a guy like that.''

When it's time for business, Flacco doesn't panic. Against Denver, he moved the Ravens 77 yards in 38 seconds with the game on the line.

``You all might think we're lying about it, but I'm being so serious when I say that when we went to the huddle, no one doubted for a second that we (were) going to score,'' Smith said. ``Did we think it was going to be a 70-yard bomb? No. But no one panicked. It was just so calm in the huddle. It was like, `All right. Let's go do it.' And we got it done.''

Recalling the drive, Flacco said, ``There's no need to get all worked up over stuff like that when you know you have put all of your time, all of your effort into going out there and having fun and winning the football game. There's no need to blow it out of proportion and get overwhelmed by that kind of thing. I think when you have that mindset, it is easy to go out there and stay calm and play in that moment.''

Flacco earned the Patriots' respect in last year's title game when he outplayed Brady and nearly pulled off an upset. Earlier this season, Flacco threw for 382 yards and three scores in Baltimore's 31-30 win over New England.

``He's tough to bring down, he stands in the pocket, he takes a hit, he gets up. That's a tough football player,'' Patriots tackle Vince Wilfork said. ``When you have a quarterback like that, that's special.''

Flacco's rookie contract expires after this season. Regardless of what happens Sunday - and whether he gets a long-term deal or receives Baltimore's franchise tag - he is due for a big payday in the months ahead. But Flacco has more pressing issues in mind this week.

``I'm sure it's back there somewhere, but it's not something I've really thought about or really considered,'' he said.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh has made his position clear: Pay the man.

``He is one of the toughest quarterbacks I have ever been around,'' Harbaugh said. ``He's the best quarterback I've ever been around.''

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AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich contributed to this report.

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Proposed NFL rule change would eliminate Ravens' intentional holding strategy

Proposed NFL rule change would eliminate Ravens' intentional holding strategy

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

It made everyone do a double-take, then it made perfect sense to non-Cincinnati and non-Pittsburgh fans.

Back in Week 12 when the Baltimore Ravens held off the Cincinnati Bengals 19-14, it wasn't a single touchdown that made national headlines. Rather it was a game ending safety that cut a seven-point deficit to only five. 

On the final play, numerous Ravens players held the opposing Bengals, who were setting up to receive punt, with 11 seconds left on the clock. Punter Sam Koch, just sat back, draining the clock before finally running out the back of the end zone with the clock at zero. 

SEE LINK FOR FULL RULE EXPLANATION

Thursday it was proposed to the NFL's Competition Committee to make plays like this illegal. 

While it may be considered unfair to some, making this new rule would simply add to an already expanding rule book and only be used for a select handful of plays a year, maybe. 

Eliminating cleverness of coaches that are well versed in the NFL rule book, should not be the approach of the of rule adaptations. There is no impact on player safety nor does it make the game 'more watchable' (like the extra-point rule).

Not only that, but the new proposed rule just leaves another set of loopholes for coaches to take advantage of at the end of a game. What if team trying to score on the last play commits two offensive penalties just to get another shot at the endzone?

But before making a massive overhaul to fix all of the loopholes in the NFL rule book, can we establish what a catch is first?

MORE RAVENS: Tony Jefferson used Madden to make free agency decision

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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