Did Joe Flacco outplay Tom Brady?

We had an interesting message in our AFC East inbox this week.

Eric Moss from North Providence, RI, writes: I am puzzled by Ray Rice's comments about Joe Flacco outplaying Tom Brady in the AFC title game. How can you compare the two when one went up against a top-two defense in the NFL verses the last-ranked Patriots’ defense? The same goes for Eli Manning. Give Brady the Ravens defense or the Giants defense in the big game and it's a 60 to nothing blowout just by trading defenses. Brady would torch his own defense.

James Walker: Interesting question, Eric. It really depends on how you look at it. From Rice's perspective, Flacco threw for 306 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, and Brady threw for 239 yards and two interceptions in the AFC title game. I understand why Rice chooses to view it that way. In its simplest form, Rice is correct. But I see your point as well, Eric, that Brady played against the No. 2 defense in the NFL and Flacco played against the No. 31 defense. It was second best versus second worse. The quarterbacks were not on a level playing field. But overall, I think this is much to do about nothing. Flacco had a solid game against a horrible defense and Brady struggled against an elite defense. New England won the game and advanced to the Super Bowl, and that’s really all that matters to both teams and quarterbacks. Flacco is not on Brady's level. But he did play well against a mediocre defense in a big game.