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Baltimore QB Joe Flacco wins Super Bowl MVP award

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Baltimore QB Joe Flacco wins Super Bowl MVP award

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Until this Super Bowl, Joe Flacco always believed in himself more than many other folks did.

Maybe that's because the Baltimore Ravens quarterback never put up the most scintillating statistics. Or because he kept falling short of a championship.

This much was clear: Flacco didn't get the top-of-the-line contract he wanted last offseason, so he put off negotiations until this season was done, confident he would prove himself.

That decision worked out rather well.

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 to a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

Hey, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, get your checkbook ready.

``He did let me know if the day came, I could go beat on his desk and really give it to him,'' Flacco said with a smile. ``And that's what I'm going to do.''

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 1, and Jacoby Jones for 56 in a back-and-forth game oddly interrupted more than a half-hour by a power outage.

Then, on the drive that ended with Baltimore's final points, a field goal with under 4 1/2 minutes left, Flacco faced a third-and-1 at his team's 45-yard line. Given three play calls to choose from, Flacco banged his wrists across each other, signaling for a fade to Boldin. The outcome? A 15-yard gain for a first down.

``It shows you he has got guts,'' Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. ``He has got the guts of a burglar.''

Earlier, Flacco showed more athleticism than he gets credit for, running to his right under pressure from two linebackers before lofting a 30-yard pass to Boldin.

``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 TD 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 QBs, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, and a first-round home win against No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck.

``I wouldn't take any other quarterback over Joe,'' offensive lineman Michael Oher said. ``People give him slack, and I don't know why.''

Flacco's job in the second half Sunday was more about being safe than spectacular. He had helped Baltimore take a 21-6 halftime lead, and it grew to 28-6 when Jones returned the second-half kickoff a Super Bowl-record 108 yards.

That is when things got strange.

First, the lights inside the Superdome cut out, delaying action for more than a half-hour. And when play resumed, San Francisco quickly scored 17 consecutive points to make things interesting.

The Ravens held on down the stretch. Two short field goals by rookie Justin Tucker padded the lead, and the Ray Lewis-led defense stopped the 49ers on a fourth-and-goal at the 5 with under 2 minutes left.

``I was sitting there thinking, `There's no way. There's no way we stop them here,''' Flacco said. ``But we did.''

Neither Flacco nor his team appeared to be ready to take on all comers as the regular season concluded.

After all, the Ravens lost four of their final five games to stumble into the playoffs.

And Flacco, a fifth-year pro, finished only 12th in the 32-team NFL in passer rating at a merely passable 87.7 - way behind league leader Aaron Rodgers' 108.0 - while compiling 22 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions.

Middle-of-the-pack, to say the least.

But he and his team definitely did shine when the results mattered most.

``I tell you what: We don't make it easy,'' said Flacco, who set an NFL quarterback record by leading his team to playoff wins in each of his first five seasons. He is 9-4 overall in the postseason, but was 0-2 in AFC championship games until this year.

And now his contract is up. He could wind up with one of the most lucrative 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.

``I'm a Joe Flacco fan. I've been a Joe Flacco fan,'' said Ravens linebacker Lewis, who ended his 17-year career with a second championship. ``To do what he did today, that's what we always see.''

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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Five observations from Day 1 of Ravens training camp

Five observations from Day 1 of Ravens training camp

OWINGS MILLS – Here are five observations from Day 1 of Ravens’ training camp:

1. Joe Flacco didn’t look like someone who had not practiced since November.

First of all, there is nothing wrong with Flacco’s arm. Early in drills, he effortlessly floated a long pass to rookie Chris Moore on a ball that traveled at least 55 yards in the air. Secondly, Flacco moved well wearing a brace on his surgically-repaired left knee, moving out of the pocket several times without any sign of favoring the injury. It remains to be seen if Flacco feels discomfort after several days of practice, and of course, he is not taking any hits. But this was a good first step.

“It felt really good to be out there,” Flacco said in quotes provided by the team. “I wasn’t as efficient as I’d like to be, but I felt comfortable. I just need to throw it a little better and complete some more passes.”

2. Veteran tight end Ben Watson didn’t have the greatest practice.

The usually sure-handed Watson dropped two passes early. Maybe Watson was nervous in his first practice with Flacco, or maybe he was adjusting to the pace of Flacco’s throws. But Watson will be looking to bounce back quickly, competing for playing time at tight end with Crockett Gillmore, Dennis Pitta, and Maxx Williams.

3. The starter at inside linebacker could be rookie Kamalei Correa.

While Correa is taking reps both outside and inside, the Ravens are searching for a starter at inside linebacker next to C.J. Mosley. If Correa wins the starting job, it means the Ravens’ top two picks, left tackle Ronnie Stanley and Correa, could be starters from Week 1.

4. Pitta looks like Pitta, running patterns and making catches.

Fans still love Pitta, and he received a huge ovation whenever he made a catch. Pitta’s attempt to come back from his second major hip injury is a feel-good story and people are rooting for him.  However, a major test for Pitta will come Saturday when the Ravens put on pads for the first time.

5. John Urschel could be the starter at left guard, but he is also taking reps at center.

Urschel is the favorite to replace Kelechi Osemele as the starting left guard. However, Urschel’s best position may be center. If anything happens to starting center Jeremy Zuttah, the Ravens could shift Urschel to center and play either Ryan Jensen or rookie Alex Lewis at left guard.

RELATED: STANLEY'S ROOKIE SHOW PERFORMANCE WAS ONE FOR THE AGES

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Ronnie Stanley sings 'Ignition Remix' in chicken suit for his teammates

Ronnie Stanley sings 'Ignition Remix' in chicken suit for his teammates

OWINGS MILLS - When the Ravens drafted left tackle Ronnie Stanley, he never expected to sing in front of teammates wearing a chicken suit.

Welcome to the Ravens, and to the traditional rookie talent contest. Stanley led off this year’s draft class as the first-round pick, and apparently, he was a hit. The chicken suit was courtesy of wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., who purchased it for Stanley.

Where exactly do you find a chicken suit that fits somebody 6-foot-6, 320 pounds? But Smith found one. If you are a smart rookie, you don’t say no to Steve Smith. That left Stanley with no choice but to perform wearing the suit.

Stanley chose the R. Kelly song “Ignition Remix” for his selection.

“I knew it was crowd pleaser,” Stanley said after Thursday’s practice. “I know every word to the song. That was the song I picked, so I was practicing all throughout this break that we had.”

Under the circumstances, Stanley felt he did well.

 “I actually didn’t know about the chicken suit until yesterday,” Stanley said. “I did what I had to do. I knew since I was going first, I had to set the tone. That was the first time I sang in a chicken suit.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh was impressed.

“He did a great job and we had fun,” Harbaugh said. “It’s nice when your first-round pick, kind of the leader of the rookie class, is able to step up and make a statement about that. I can fit in, so to speak.”

No word on if Stanley plans to go on tour after the season.

RELATED: A FEW RAVENS RUNNING BACKS ARE DINGED UP

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Kenneth Dixon hobbled, Lorenzo Taliaferro placed on PUP list

Kenneth Dixon hobbled, Lorenzo Taliaferro placed on PUP list

OWINGS MILLS -- The Ravens deep running back group grew a little thinner – at least temporarily – on Thursday as rookie Kenneth Dixon left the first training camp practice after tweaking his left knee and Lorenzo Taliaferro was placed on the preseason physically-unable-to-perform list with a lingering foot injury.

Dixon had been very active in the noncontact practice, especially as a pass catcher. But as he caught one pass near the left sideline in an 11-on-11 drill, he was inadvertently bumped out of bounds by linebacker Patrick Onwauasor and fell hard to the ground. Dixon was slow to get up and was ultimately helped off the field by Justin Forsett and a trainer.

Dixon has “a slight thing with the knee,” coach John Harbaugh said after practice. “He should be fine.”

Taliaferro sustained a foot injury last year and had surgery that ultimately ended his season in October.

"Not that there's a big issue with it," Harbaugh said of Taliaferro's foot, "but it's not quite there yet."

Entering his third season, Taliaferro is fighting for a roster spot after missing 16 of 32 games over his first two seasons. Forsett, Buck Allen and Dixon all appear to be locks to make the team, leaving Taliaferro competing for a potential fourth running spot with Terrance West and perhaps Trent Richardson, though he, too, is injured.

Taliaferro joins five other Ravens who had previously been placed on the preseason PUP list – receivers Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman, linebackers Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs, and Richardson.

Players can be activated from the PUP list and return to practice at any time during training camp. If they begin the regular season on the PUP list, they must sit out the first six games.

In addition to Taliaferro’s absence, three players sat out Thursday's practice because they haven’t passed the conditioning test: wide receiver Mike Wallace, cornerback Jerraud Powers and newly signed wide receiver Dobson Collins.

RELATED: FLACCO ISN'T WORRIED ABOUT INJURIES AFFECTING HIS POST NFL LIFE