NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Until this Super Bowl, Joe Flacco always believed in himself more than many other folks did.
Maybe that's because the Baltimore Ravens quarterback never put up the most scintillating statistics. Or because he kept falling short of a championship.
This much was clear: Flacco didn't get the top-of-the-line contract he wanted last offseason, so he put off negotiations until this season was done, confident he would prove himself.
That decision worked out rather well.
Capping a perfect postseason, the unassuming and unheralded Flacco completed 22 of 33 passes for 287 yards and three first-half touchdowns Sunday, earning Super Bowl MVP honors for leading the Ravens to a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
Hey, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, get your checkbook ready.
"He did let me know if the day came, I could go beat on his desk and really give it to him," Flacco said with a smile. "And that's what I'm going to do."
Flacco set aside any questions about just how good he is and whether he belongs in the conversation about the league's best quarterbacks, becoming only the sixth in 47 Super Bowls to throw for three scores in a first half. He connected with Anquan Boldin for 13 yards, Dennis Pitta for 1, and Jacoby Jones for 56 in a back-and-forth game oddly interrupted more than a half-hour by a power outage.
Then, on the drive that ended with Baltimore's final points, a field goal with under 4½ minutes left, Flacco faced a third-and-1 at his team's 45-yard line. Given three play calls to choose from, Flacco banged his wrists across each other, signaling for a fade to Boldin. The outcome? A 15-yard gain for a first down.
"It shows you he has got guts," Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. "He has got the guts of a burglar."
Earlier, Flacco showed more athleticism than he gets credit for, running to his right under pressure from two linebackers before lofting a 30-yard pass to Boldin.
"Now they're gonna have to talk about Joe Flacco," center Matt Birk said. "Joe's a stud. He showed it tonight."
Not just Sunday, actually.
The admittedly mild-mannered guy, who played his college football far from the spotlight at Delaware, wrapped up Baltimore's four-game run to the title with a record-equaling 11 TD passes and zero interceptions, going 73 of 126 for 1,140 yards. It was an impressive streak that included road victories against two of the game's most respected QBs, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, and a first-round home win against No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck.