Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco warms up before the AFC championship game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
(Photo: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports)
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The other quarterback always seems the bigger story - until Joe Flacco beats him.
Flacco beat Tom Brady on Sunday, Peyton Manning the week before and rookie sensation Andrew Luck the week before that in the opening round of the playoffs. Now Flacco goes to the Super Bowl to face a second-year quarterback who has started nine NFL games - and darned if the San Francisco 49ers' tattooed Colin Kaepernick doesn't seem the fresher, more startling story.
Flacco stood before a horseshoe formation of reporters Monday afternoon in the Baltimore Ravens practice bubble when asked how he felt about all of that.
"I don't know," he said. "It's funny how things work. And how you guys talk about things."
Flacco apparently meant that reporters find angles for stories that have little real meaning for him. The Super Bowl will be Ravens vs. 49ers, he said, not him against Kaepernick. "So the last thing to look at, really, is a five-year quarterback vs. a second-year-quarterback," he said.
Flacco was dressed in a plain white shirt and dark sweat pants, a vanilla outfit to match his vanilla answers.
"We are just out there playing a game, and we are doing the best we can," he said. "The talk that goes into all these games, that's really all it is."
Flacco was asked 15 questions and three times prefaced his answer with "I don't know" before elaborating. But he sure didn't hesitate when asked how long he had thought he could be a Super Bowl quarterback.
"Always," he said firmly.
He always has had confidence in his ability, he said: "I think it is just one of those things that you dream of when you are a little kid. You watch (Joe) Montana and those guys light them up in the Super Bowl. So to be here at this point is pretty special."
What's extra special: Flacco, with an expiring contract, has been doing some on-the-field negotiating in the playoffs. The check coming from the Ravens is growing with each win.
Kaepernick is the one who wears Montana's 49ers colors, but Flacco is the one who shares a first name and a certain sense of unflappability. That's the quality that earned Montana the nickname "Joe Cool."
The Ravens call Flacco "The General," but the Joe Cool moniker came up in the locker room after their upset of the New England Patriots. Linebacker Terrell Suggs said: "Joe once again, two years in a row, outplayed the great No. 12" - meaning Brady, the modern Montana - "and he showed just how Joe Cool he is. But he's still got one more to get, so we ain't satisfied by any means."
The win Sunday was Flacco's 62nd in five seasons. It was also his sixth road playoff win, more than any other quarterback in NFL history. Next he aches for a neutral-site win, in New Orleans, in the Super Bowl.
"We have made it this far," Flacco said, "and we just have to make the most of it."
Erik Brady, USA TODAY Sports