Joe Flacco came into the 2011 playoffs with a lot of doubters.  His critics feel he is not a 'big game' quarterback, and the Ravens' defense and running game have carried him most of his career.

Before Sunday's game against New England, Flacco had thrown for over 200 yards only once in the postseason.  His performance last week against Houston was so pedestrian that it prompted a teammate to call him out on a national radio show.

Veteran safety Ed Reed told hosts on SiriusXM's NFL Radio that he thought the Texans rattled Flacco, and that he is indecisive at times.

Predictably, the Ravens went into damage control mode, and Flacco largely dismissed Reed's comments during a midweek press conference.

However, the proverbial toothpaste was out of the tube, and Sunday was a put up or shut up day for Flacco.

Flacco responded with the best statistical playoff effort of his career.  His 306 yards, 2 TD's, and 95.4 qb rating were much better than Tom Brady, but Baltimore's effort fell short when Billy Cundiff's 32 yard field goal hooked wide left.

Flacco did throw one pick early in the fourth, but Brady returned the favor on the subsequent Patriot drive.

Everyone will undoubtedly remember Cundiff's missed field goal, but the key play of the drive was on 2nd down.  Flacco threw a perfect strike to Lee Evans in the right corner of the end zone that was knocked away at the last moment by Patriots' corner Sterling Moore.  Moore made a nice play, but it was a ball that Evans had to come down with.

It's amazing how legacy and perception can be altered by one instant in time.  The reality is that Joe Flacco is the same quarterback he's always been.

However, there's no denying a win over 'B and B' in Foxborough would have gone a long way in helping Flacco's 'street cred.'