Joe Flacco says playing Tom Brady remains special

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Joe Flacco said he remembers his brother putting covers of ESPN The Magazine on the walls of their room when they were growing up.

Among the pictures hanging were a few of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Fast-forward over a decade later and Flacco is facing Brady for a fourth time in the postseason on Saturday, when the Baltimore Ravens play at the Patriots.

"The cool thing about it is, Tom was playing for who knows how many years before I got in here," Flacco said. "I was in high school watching him win Super Bowls."

When Brady won his first Super Bowl in February 2002, Flacco had just turned 17 and was nearing the end of his junior year of high school. By the time Flacco was drafted in the first round in 2008, Brady had three Super Bowl rings and a 14-3 record in the postseason.

But Brady hasn't had as much playoff success lately because of Flacco. The Ravens and Flacco are 2-1 against Brady, and they would be undefeated against him if not for Lee Evans' failed catch in the AFC Championship Game three years ago.

Flacco has also outplayed Brady in the past two meetings. In the 2011 and 2012 AFC Championship Games combined, Flacco completed 59.8 percent of his passes (43-of-72) for 546 yards with five touchdowns and one interception (100.8 passer rating). Brady connected on 56.6 percent of his throws (51-of-90) for 559 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions (60.3 rating).

"It's not really me outdueling Tom or him outdueling me," Flacco said. "We're not playing against each other."

In terms of postseason success, Flacco has taken over the title as the standard for NFL quarterbacks. Since Flacco entered the league in 2008, he has won 10 playoff games, while Brady has won four.

"He’s a franchise quarterback and he’s had a great career," Brady said. "Certainly he’s played some great games against us and we’ve got to find ways to slow their whole offense down."

Slowing down Flacco in the postseason has been a tough task. He has thrown multiple touchdowns in seven straight playoff games, which is tied for the longest such streak in NFL history. Only Terry Bradshaw (1978-83), Joe Montana (1989-91) and Drew Brees (2007-12) have put together such a streak.

"Big-time players show up when you need them most, and that's how he's been," Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith said. "He's as good as anyone, and maybe the best in the playoffs these past few years."