Joe Flacco's enduring struggle for respect hasn't gained the traction it deserves, but Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice believes his quarterback's performance in last season's playoffs tells the real story.
"It was his show," Rice recently told WQXI-AM in Atlanta, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. "It was his show on offense, and as much credit that I was getting and as much respect I was getting from defenses, all Joe really had to do is prove that we can drive the ball down the field and score, and he did that. Quite frankly, he outplayed Tom Brady the last game."
Against the Houston Texans and New England Patriots, Rice was viewed as a primary target (which tells you more about who defenses fear). Flacco, for his part, took care of business against the Texans. Brady's Patriots won a tight AFC Championship Game, but that wasn't the QB's fault, according to Rice. (Flacco, by the way, was 22-of-36 passing, amassing 306 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.)
"He outplayed Tom Brady, and Tom Brady -- he's the trademark for a quarterback," Rice said. "So Joe Flacco feeling the way he feels is only right, because he did it on a high level. He did it on the peak of his performance."
Flacco in April labeled himself the "best" quarterback in football, which set off sirens league-wide.
Meanwhile, there's this: Brady, after that AFC Championship Game, apologized to Patriots owner Robert Kraft -- for winning. It wasn't Brady's best game (22 of 36, totaling 239 yards with two picks and a rushing TD), but the anecdote tells you everything you need to know. Should we also mention that Brady had to face Terrell Suggs and a bunch of rowdies? Flacco, meanwhile, faced the NFL's second-worst pass defense, a unit littered with reformed wideouts and castoffs.
A rematch is in order.