Ray Rice on Joe Flacco: He outplayed Tom Brady in AFC Championship Game

Rice has Flacco's back, says the Baltimore QB outplayed Brady in the AFC Championship Game. (US PRESSWIRE)

Joe Flacco made news this spring when he announced that "I think I'm the best" quarterback in the league. At the time, we didn't have any issue with Flacco's remarks, and now, nearly three months later, our thoughts haven't changed.

Here's what we wrote in early April: "[Flacco's] right, he wouldn't be very successful if he felt otherwise. But the reality is that Flacco's more like a top-15 quarterback, at least according to Football Outsiders. Using their QB efficiency metric, Flacco ranked 14th in total value among all NFL quarterbacks in 2011, and 18th in value per play. He was just behind Andy Dalton and Alex Smith, and ahead of Cam Newton and Matt Hasselbeck."

Of course, Flacco's agent Joe Linta, no doubt upping the rhetoric for his client's impending contract negotiations, suggested that the Ravens' quarterback is looking for "top-five" money.

"If the game is about wins and losses, he has to be in the top five [quarterbacks]," Linta said in February. "He is a player who has been extremely durable, never missed a game. And he's done something that no one has ever done. In his four years in the league, he has never missed a game and has more wins than any other quarterback."

Quarterback wins is silly means of determining a quarterback's effectiveness and as we've pointed out previously, you don't have to look any further than January's AFC Championship Game between the Ravens and Patriots. Should Flacco get the "loss" because Billy Cundiff honked a last-second field goal? Put differently: should Tom Brady be awarded the "win"? By almost any measure, he had a horrible game and was outplayed by Flacco.

(Both quarterbacks were 22 of 36 but Flacco threw for 306 yards, two touchdowns -- not to mention Lee Evans' dropped TD pass in the fourth quarter -- and an interception. Brady, meanwhile, managed just 239 passing yards, no touchdowns and two picks.)

These sentiments were shared by Flacco's teammate, running back Ray Rice (who also happens to be looking for a long-term deal). During an a recent radio appearance, Rice explained the biggest difference he saw in his quarterback during the Ravens' playoff run.

“It was his show. It was his show on offense and as much credit that I was getting and as much respect I was getting from defenses, all Joe really had to do is prove that we can drive the ball down the field and score, and he did that," Rice said via SportsRadioInterviews.com. "Quite frankly, he outplayed Tom Brady the last game. He outplayed Tom Brady, and Tom Brady -- he’s the trademark for a quarterback. So Joe Flacco feeling the way he feels is only right, because he did it on a high level. He did it on the peak of his performance.”

This isn't a case of Rice blindly supporting his teammate; you'd be hard-pressed to find a soul who thought Brady wasn't outplayed -- and that included Brady, who admitted that he "sucked" against Baltimore and promised Pats owner Bob Kraft that he would "play a lot better" in the Super Bowl. (He did, it turns out, right up till the moment Justin Tuck sacked him early in the third quarter.)

Flacco often draws comparisons to Matt Ryan of the Falcons. Both were taken in the first round of the 2008 draft, and both have led their teams to the playoffs multiple times. The consensus had been that Ryan was the better player, the more accomplished passer. But after how the postseason played out (the Falcons lost to the Giants in the wild-card round, scoring just two points in the process), there's a strong argument that Flacco is just as good as -- and maybe better than -- Ryan. He just has to play more consistently, which has always been the biggest criticism against him.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Ryan Wilson on Twitter here: @ryanwilson_07.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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