NEW ORLEANS -- After watching the Baltimore Ravens pull off a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, it's now safe to say: Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback.
I don't think there's any question about it. I had an opportunity to spend a couple minutes with Flacco before the game, and I was amazed at how calm he was. He came out all by himself, sat down on the bench and laced up his shoes. Then, he started throwing the ball. I kind of reminded him that I remembered a time when he played at Delaware and they had to go down and play a night game at Southern Illinois. He said, "Well, that was a playoff game, too."
Flacco completed 22 of 33 attempts for 287 yards and three touchdowns in the game and finishes the 2012 postseason with 11 TDs and no interceptions.
Flacco had seven games this season where he didn't throw for 200 yards, and now, he hasn't thrown an interception since the Denver game on Dec. 16.
The biggest surprise in this game was how well two quarterbacks who are both in their 20s played in their first Super Bowl. To see Flacco and Colin Kaepernick throw for 500 yards in the first three quarters of the game with only one interception? To me, that's unheard of. Usually, when you have two young quarterbacks in a game like this, before they've had any experience, it's very, very tough.
» What cost the 49ers was the early mistakes. When tight end Vernon Davis caught a pass on the first play of the game, but wasn't on the line of scrimmage, a 20-yard gain became a five-yard loss. Then, when LaMichael James fumbled the ball, and they were down two turnovers to the Ravens' none at that point, I thought that would be too tough to overcome.
» The thing I was most impressed with didn't happen on the football field. As you looked around the stadium, you didn't see one person leave the game in the last three minutes. I think that tells you how competitive this game was, and how much faith everybody had that one team would come back and win or one would hold on to win.
Follow Gil Brandt on Twitter @Gil_Brandt