(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

BOSTON (CBS) – Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has gotten his fair share of criticism since entering the league five years ago, but you won’t be hearing it from the New England locker room leading up to the AFC Championship Game.

It’s hard to criticize Flacco too much after his performance in the Ravens’ 38-35 double-overtime win over the Denver Broncos in the AFC divisional round over the weekend. Flacco was 18-for-34 for 331 yards and three touchdowns, out-dueling future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning in the process.

“He’s a confident guy,” Patriots safety Steve Gregory said on Monday. “He makes good decisions with the ball and has a strong arm. He throws the ball well and he’s a leader on that team. He’s one of the better quarterbacks in the league and it definitely poses a challenge whenever you have to play a guy like that.”

Flacco isn’t afraid to air it out, and he did so quite often in Denver. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Flacco was four-for-seven on throws of 20 yards or more on Saturday, with each of his three scores on deep balls downfield (59, 32, and 70 yards). None was more impressive than his 70-yard, game-tying bomb to Jacoby Jones with just 31 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

“I really thought he showed a lot mental toughness,” Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said of Flacco. “I think the team in general are a very mentally tough team, very physically tough team, a team that went into Denver and took their shots, weren’t afraid, went right after them, played aggressive. (Flacco) knew what he was looking for and found the open guys and got the ball downfield, which was very impressive for him. I just think it was a real good job by them, going out to Denver and playing their style of football, starting with the quarterback.”

Read More HERE.


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