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Joe Flacco lets play do the talking in Ravens' Super Bowl victory

NEW ORLEANS -- Believe it or not, two hours after Sunday's Super Bowl ended, Baltimore Ravens outspoken linebacker Terrell Suggs still had something more he wanted to say. It wasn't eloquent. Nor did he whisper it. Quite the contrary to both, actually.

He wanted to remind everyone within earshot -- a very distant earshot -- that Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley, before the 2012 season started, belittled Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco's potential during an interview with NFL Network.

"LaMarr Woodley said the Ravens wouldn't ever win a Super Bowl with Joe Flacco as the quarterback!" Suggs screamed. "Ahhhhhh!"

From the other side of the room, another Ravens defensive player concurred: "You tell 'em, Sizzle! You tell 'em what's up!"

Maybe we now understand why Flacco doesn't say very much. Maybe we know why he doesn't outwardly complain about a lack of a contract extension. Or why he hasn't once given a speech during a team meeting.

Flacco, the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XLVII, can now let his actions (and his teammates) say everything for him after his three-touchdown, no-interception performance on the biggest stage in sports.

"He never talks," said linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, asked if Flacco ever had a message for the team this week. "How do you talk here? You've got Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, John Harbaugh, Matt Birk. So many guys in double-digit years. So many guys who are constantly talking."

You know how Flacco constantly talked during the 2012 playoffs? By throwing 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions, joining Joe Montana (1989) as the only quarterbacks to accomplish such a feat.

You know how Flacco has spoken out since he joined the Ravens in 2008? He has won nine playoff wins, joining Tom Brady as the only two quarterbacks to win as many playoff games in the first five seasons of a career.

And you know how he acted throughout the process, which included Sunday's fantastic outing?

"He was himself," wide receiver Anquan Boldin said. "I think that was the big part of the entire day. I don't think the magnitude of the game changed anything about what he did. He was the same Joe. That's what I like about him: He doesn't change.

"He doesn't get too up or too down."

Oh, Flacco has occasionally had a few things to say. Before the season started, on a Baltimore radio show, Flacco said he didn't think he was a "top five" quarterback -- but that he was actually "the best" quarterback in the NFL. "I don't think I'd be very successful at my job if I didn't feel that way," Flacco said.

On the eve of a contract season, the comments raised eyebrows, not only because Flacco doesn't often make such boasts, but because he had yet to convince many that he even belonged in the top five.

From that point forward, Flacco began letting his actions dictate his place in the NFL's hierarchy of quarterbacks. The Ravens had yet to extend his contract, instead seemingly joining the chorus of those wondering if he had what it takes to be worthy of "elite" money.

When Sunday's game ended, though, Flacco made it clear he'd now open his mouth in a way that he'd yet to do to this point.

"(Ravens owner) Steve Bisciotti told me that, if this happens, I can go pound on his desk and really stick it to him," Flacco said during a postgame interview with NFL Network. "And that's exactly what I'm going to do."

And that's exactly what he should do.

During coach John Harbaugh's first five seasons with the Ravens -- which have coincided directly with Flacco's five seasons -- his teams have often been heralded for their defensive success. Flacco has constantly been the quiet understudy.

And while Harbaugh surely deserves a great bulk of this success (Harbaugh has led his team to the playoffs every year and has the most wins in his first five seasons of any coach in NFL history), we must finally also recognize Flacco's place in all of this.

After all, this Ravens team might have been motivated off the field by its outspoken defensive leaders. But this Ravens team was most certainly fueled on the field by its much more discreet offense.

"He's just been doing the exact same things since I've been here," Ravens tackle Michael Oher said. "I don't know why anybody else is impressed. I'm just so lost on those questions. It's crazy. I don't know how to answer them."

Flacco, on the other hand, knows exactly how to answer them. He did so Sunday by coming out firing, adding to what has been an incredible run through the playoffs. He completed 6 of 9 passes in the first quarter alone, putting up 77 yards in a game that many expected to have a run-first gameplan by the Ravens.

Baltimore's quarterback looked confident. And his teammates know exactly why: During practices leading up to the big game, he was on fire.

"The balls he was throwing in practice were just perfect strikes," Ayanbadejo said. "He just really keyed into his game during the playoffs. He was on fire, just throwing strikes into small windows. Impressive, impressive throws."

The focus carried into the game. And the game will assuredly carry into the offseason. Yes, on this Sunday, Flacco did plenty to prove actions speak louder than words. Even if it's not so bad to have a bunch of loudmouths backing you up.

"Joe Flacco is the best quarterback in football," running back Ray Rice said. "I'm just saying. When you win a Super Bowl, and when you do everything he's done this postseason. ... Joe Flacco is the best quarterback in football now."

And now, he's very likely on the cusp of getting paid like it.

Follow Jeff Darlington on Twitter @jeffdarlington

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