Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks, Feb. 2, 2014

Joe Flacco Finishes the Job

Ravens QB answers critic, wins Super Bowl MVP and brings the power back to Baltimore

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014  |  Updated 4:24 PM CDT
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Flashback: Wild Super Bowl Scene XLVII

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For much of the night, it seemed like Super Bowl XLVII would be remembered as the night the lights went out in New Orleans. But it will also be remembered for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who responded to questions about whether he's an elite QB by winning the Super Bowl MVP.

The 34-minute power outage in the third quarter at the Superdome may have been the most surreal moment in the history of our country's biggest spectacle. With the Ravens up 28-6 at that point and doing absolutely nothing wrong, it seemed like the only thing anyone would be talking about was who to blame for a embarrassment of epic proportions for the league and the city. 

We'll never forget seeing the stadium going dark, but the way the game unfolded from that point guarantees that we'll be thinking of it for a lot more than the blackout. The Ravens' 34-31 win was chockful of storylines that will make for good fodder in our football-less future. 

The 49ers rattled off 17 points in just over four minutes after the blackout, their offense finally coming to life after a sloppy first half that featured two turnovers. What looked like the first Super Bowl rout in a long time turned into an incredible game. A bad punt and a Ray Rice fumble helped the 49ers turn the tables.

Colin Kaepernick fulfilled the hype during the second half comeback, finishing the day with 302 passing yards and rushing for 62 yards and a touchdown to nearly bring the 49ers all the way back. The delay from the blackout might have sapped some energy from the Ravens' legs, but we've seen Kaepernick do this enough in his first 10 games to know that it can't take all the blame. 

One of the things we'll wonder about the most is why Jim Harbaugh chose not to have his quarterback run on any of the team's four plays inside the Ravens' 7-yard line as with time running out in the fourth quarter. Kaepernick wound up throwing incomplete to Michael Crabtree on fourth down as Harbaugh screamed for a holding flag that would not come. 

Debating whether or not that was a foul could take a whole blackout, but Harbaugh's usage of Kaepernick is a more interesting question. Harbaugh chose not to run Kaepernick on a two-point conversion earlier in the fourth and Ravens safety Ed Reed blew up the play with an unmolested rush into the backfield to force an incompletion. 

Kaepernick's ability to make plays with his feet helped the 49ers get back into the game and the coach will have plenty of people wondering why he didn't let him do it in some of the biggest spots.

John Harbaugh won't have to answer any such questions. 

Joe Flacco's been doubted an awful lot over the years, but the team put the game into his hands on a crucial third-and-one with 6:30 to play and a two-point lead to protect. Flacco audibled into a pass and found Anquan Boldin, who fought off good coverage to catch the ball and keep the drive alive long enough for a field goal that proved essential. 

It wasn't the greatest throw you'll ever see. Neither was the 56-yard lollipop to Jacoby Jones for a second quarter touchdown. Flacco made them and two other touchdown passes without throwing an interception for the fourth time in four playoff tries, though, and that counts for a lot. 

There are things to pick apart about Flacco, but at some point you have to surrender to the record and his is sparkling. Five playoff trips, three trips to the AFC title game and, now, a Super Bowl MVP earned when it looked like the lights had gone out on the Ravens when they went out in the dome. 

That's what you want when you talk about a franchise quarterback and it's why Flacco is going to cash in handsomely when the Ravens sign the impending free agent before he can even speak to another team.

There will still be those that argue Flacco isn't elite, but it's a moot point when you're a winner, and that's pretty much the final word on the referendum about Flacco's standing in the league.

On a night when Ray Lewis went out a winner, Kaepernick made us wonder what he'll do for an encore and the biggest show in America was plunged into darkness, Flacco's confirmation wound up as the biggest story of all. 

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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