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Ravens' Joe Flacco not among elite -- yet

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,NFL,Ravens,John Keim

Not every question about the Ravens and 49ers was answered in the Super Bowl on Sunday. Here are a few of the unresolved ones:

Is Joe Flacco elite? » No, he's not. Unless, that is, you consider him in the same class as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. You can't have 10 quarterbacks be elite in the NFL; otherwise, the term is watered down. But Flacco played at an elite level throughout the postseason with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. He's not perfect, but he's excellent at throwing the ball down the field, and he operated the offense with precision. He also trusts his receivers, allowing him to throw on time and for them to make plays. Flacco is another "E" word: excellent. But elite? To get there you must play at that level for years, not months.

Should a penalty have been called in the end zone on the fourth-down play? » Perhaps. San Francisco's Michael Crabtree was being interfered with. But if you want to look at that play, then there are a number of others that deserve scrutiny that also weren't called, starting with an incomplete deep ball down the right side in which Ravens receiver Torrey Smith was pushed and grabbed by 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver. The real problem in the final few minutes: play-calling. Colin Kaepernick hadn't shown much touch in the red zone, and the fade required a lot of touch. The timeout because of the near delay of game penalty ruined this series. Kaepernick was going to run the ball and had a decent shot at scoring.

Are we now safe from the Ray Lewis talk? » Let's hope. Like him or not, Lewis became a caricature of himself in recent weeks with the sideshow his retirement story had become. That's not all his fault, but he no doubt hugged the spotlight. Lewis was a fantastic player for a long time, but he's a complicated figure -- as you may have heard 100 times over the past two weeks. It was also evident after watching him play this postseason that he has picked the right time to retire. Lewis is done. We could all use a break.

- John Keim

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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