NEW ORLEANS — Back in front of reporters early Monday after getting about 90 minutes of sleep, a relaxed Joe Flacco accepted the Super Bowl XLVII Most Valuable Player trophy from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as well as the keys to a brand new Corvette Stingray.
The fifth-year quarterback completed 22-of-33 pass attempts for 287 yards and three touchdowns as his Ravens won the Lombardi Trophy by defeating the San Francisco 49ers, 34-31.
Though teammate Jacoby Jones could make a case for MVP after his record-setting 108-yard kickoff return to open the second half (he also had a 56-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter), the quarterback had a postseason for the ages.
During the Ravens’ four-game run to the championship, Flacco had 11 touchdown passes and zero interceptions — joining the iconic Joe Montana, who accomplished the feat in three games in the 1989 playoffs.
Overall, Flacco was 73 for 126 (57.9 percent) for 1,140 yards and 11 touchdowns, good for a postseason passer rating of 117.2. This after a fairly pedestrian regular season when he had 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, and his 87.7 rating ranked 12th among starting quarterbacks.
“He’s a big-game performer,” Baltimore offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said late Sunday night. “In big games, in postseason play, you see him rise to the occasion.”
Indeed, Baltimore has made the playoffs in each of the five years that Flacco has been with the team, and has won at least one postseason game each year. The Ravens have gone to the conference championship in three of those seasons.
Flacco pointed to the fourth-quarter pass to Anquan Boldin on third-and-short as the defining play for the offense. Boldin went up and got the ball over Carlos Rogers for a 15-yard gain. Baltimore went on to kick a field goal on the drive, its final points of the game.
Flacco also wanted to praise his offensive linemen, sending accolades their way when asked about his postseason performances.
He was sacked only six times in the four games.
“Our offensive line has played very well since I’ve been here, but the last four games have just been unbelievable. The way they’ve been able to protect me and give me the time back there and let our [receivers] go to work and get open,” he said.
“No credit usually goes to those guys, but they’re the reason that I’m standing here today and that we are Super Bowl champs. They played unbelievable and everybody else just kind of rallied around them.”
As if winning the Super Bowl in his first try and being named the MVP weren’t enough to celebrate, Flacco and wife Dana announced to family and friends at a gathering after leaving the Superdome that they are expecting their second child; first son Stephen is not quite 8 months old.
The couple announced their first pregnancy after the Ravens beat the 49ers on Thanksgiving 2011. So is “beat the 49ers, have a baby” a Flacco family trend?
“I might have too many kids,” he said, smiling. “I don’t know how to handle one of them. So I don’t know if I want to play [San Francisco] anymore.”
The 28-year-old, who his own father called “dull” last week, was asked about the level of celebrity that may come given his recent success.
“Hey, if you say there’s going to be some kind of celebrity with it, I’m cool with that, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be comfortable with it,” he said. “I kind of like to go about my business.”
The celebrity tour began as soon as he left the Morial Convention Center: while Ravens teammates flew back to Maryland, Flacco and his family were whisked to Walt Disney World. On Monday afternoon the quarterback was in a parade with Mickey Mouse, riding on the back of a convertible while red, white, and blue confetti swirled around him.
Sleep would have to wait.