Simms thinks Flacco is good enough, but knows Brady is on another level

Former Giants QB — and two-time Super Bowl winner — doesn't understand criticism of Ravens QB Flacco

January 20, 2012|By Matt Vensel, The Baltimore Sun

Being a two-time Super Bowl champion, Phil Simms knows a thing or two about what it takes to win in January, and he thinks Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco did more than enough last Sunday.

Simms, a former quarterback of the New York Giants who will provide color commentary during CBS's broadcast of Sunday's AFC championship game (Jim Nantz will handle play-by-play duties), said on a national conference call Tuesday that Flacco played "very well" in the 20-13 divisional round victory against the Houston Texans, even though his final stat line wasn't very impressive.

He believes the New England Patriots will be wary of Flacco's big arm and big-play ability Sunday.

"I'm sure the Patriots are thinking, 'Man, we better not let anyone behind us,'" Simms said.

Against the Texans, Flacco completed 51.9 percent of his 27 attempts for 176 yards and a pair of touchdowns — giving him a 97.1 passer rating. But Baltimore scored just three points after the first quarter. Simms said Houston's second-ranked defense deserves some credit for that.

Still, there is concern whether the Ravens can keep up with Tom Brady and the high-scoring Patriots, who are averaging 37.3 points per game during their current nine-game winning streak. Brady threw six touchdown passes in their 45-10 win over the Denver Broncos last Saturday.

"What can I tell you about Tom Brady?" Simms said. "I don't have any more words."

He marveled at the fact that Brady has had success operating "three distinct styles of offense" in his career. He said that this year the Patriots are using tight ends they way they were used 25 years ago, and that Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are making it a glamour position.

In those two young tight ends and wide receiver Wes Welker, New England has three of the NFL's top 15 pass-catchers from the regular season. Welker led the league with 122 receptions.

"Do you have enough guys to cover them?" Simms wondered aloud on the call. "It's all about the pass rush. [Getting to the quarterback] is hard to do when you've got an offense that can get rid of the football. They can hurry up. They have a library of plays that is second to none."

But Simms feels Flacco is up for Sunday's challenge. He said the Ravens aren't one-dimensional offensively. They can produce big plays in the running game and are a "team that isn't built and designed for the quarterback to be a superstar." But Simms, who doesn't understand why Flacco has been criticized so much, thinks the Ravens can win if running back Ray Rice isn't productive.

The Super Bowl XXI MVP said "there are a few things they know they can get done" against the Patriots, who ranked 31st in the NFL in total defense and pass defense during the regular season.

Given what happened the last time the Ravens traveled to Gillette Stadium for a playoff game — Baltimore beat down the home team, 33-14, two years ago — the CBS team is expecting a fun one.

"We all remember what happened last time," CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said, "and I think there is great anticipation … to see what's going to happen Sunday."

matt.vensel@baltsun.com

twitter.com/mattvensel

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