"And he brings Delaware back in the second half," Douglas said. "They lose in five overtimes, but he's unbelievable [224 passing yards after halftime], and we're really happy the scouts left."
Douglas started laughing. "Now," he said, grinning widely at his scouting partner, "he just tied Joe Montana. Andy, Joe Montana!" And the two scouts shook their heads.
Of course, Newsome still had to draft Flacco, which he did with the 18th pick in 2008. For good measure Newsome, peerless at staff development and knowing when to pull the trigger on draft day, got Ray Rice that afternoon too—at No. 55.
Some in the organization found Flacco an odd duck, quiet and exceedingly calm for the guy at the nerve center of an NFL team. He's a flatliner, and some have mistaken that for passivity.
"That's not remotely close," said offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell. "He's intense. He just might not express it outwardly." One club official said the most excited he'd seen Flacco in his five years in Baltimore was when rapper Snoop Dogg visited the Ravens one day in 2009 and told the QB, "Be easy, J. Fleezy." Flacco went around the building that day giddily explaining how Snoop Dogg had known who he was and that he had a nickname for him.
But actions speak louder than words. Since 2008 no quarterback has played more NFL games than Flacco—93; every possible start of his career—and none has more wins than Flacco's 63. In this postseason alone Flacco beat the Colts, with rookie franchise quarterback Andrew Luck; then the Broncos and Patriots, with two of the best ever in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, both on the road; and now San Francisco, with the most fascinating quarterback prospect we've seen in years.
In the game for a place in history, Flacco had plenty of help—from Jones and Boldin, and from his best friend on the team, tight end Dennis Pitta.
On the Ravens' first drive, Flacco split 49ers strong safety Donte Whitner and linebacker NaVorro Bowman, lobbing it perfectly over the latter for a 13-yard touchdown to take a 7--0 lead. "Their linebackers didn't get a lot of depth in pass coverage," explained Boldin, "so we felt we could take advantage."
On the third drive, a one-yard toss to Pitta made it 14--3, and just before halftime the crisis in the Niners' secondary reached a breaking point. Jones is one of the fastest players in the NFL, and he loves to showcase his wheels, even in practice. Last Friday, after receiving a punt during a special teams drill, he darted up the field, yelling, "Showtime, baby!"
This was showtime, all right. Jones badly beat battered cornerback Chris Culliver for his 56-yard touchdown, making worse a week in which Culliver (POINT AFTER, page 72) incurred widespread wrath for saying that he wouldn't welcome a gay player on his team.