Thom Loverro: Super Bowl is Baltimore's time

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Sports,NFL,Ravens,Thom Loverro

NEW ORLEANS

Super Bowl 47 is the perfect microcosm of today's NFL.

It's old school vs. new school — the throwback downfield passing arm of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco vs. the new-wave pistol offense of Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers.

It's got the perfect football icon for today's NFL — Ray Lewis, the Ravens linebacker who is both worshipped and reviled, the great football player with the police record.

It's got social change debate -- the foolish homophobic statements of 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver, declaring he wouldn't play with a gay teammate vs. the open arms offered by Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, an outspoken supporter of gay rights.

And it's got two poster children for the brain-damaged NFL — Ravens headhunter Bernard Pollard, last seen standing and celebrating over the body of an unconscious Stevan Ridley against the Patriots in the AFC Championship, and 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, who became the 49ers backup quarterback, losing his starting job after he was knocked out with a concussion against the Rams in November.

And where does this perfectly symbolic football game take place? In New Orleans at the Superdome, the scene of the crime of Bountygate, the place where accusations were once made of eavesdropping and who-knows-what-else.

Strip the storylines away, though, and the essence of this football game is a veteran quarterback who has been exceptional in postseason play — a veteran struggling for respect in the league — against a young, fast, strong quarterback who is making just his 10th NFL start.

It's Joe Flacco vs. Colin Kaepernick.

That gives the Ravens the slight edge, if you believe experience counts in big moments like this one. I'm a big fan of experience.

In his fifth year, Flacco is putting together a remarkable postseason run, outplaying both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, as well as star rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, to get the Ravens to the Super Bowl.

He's thrown for 853 yards, eight touchdown passes, and no interceptions in the three playoff wins against the Colts, Broncos and Patriots.

Flacco, with an 8-4 record in the NFL postseason, has made more playoff starts than Kaepernick has NFL starts in his entire short career.

Kaepernick has to rely on others to give him a sense of this moment — the biggest game of his career. Who is advising Kaepernick? Teammate Randy Moss, who knew the meaning of the word quit in big games.

"Randy has been in my ear about going out and playing like myself and making sure I am relaxed out there," Kaepernick said.

Sorry, but this is a bigger moment that calls for big feelings. This is a game where quarterbacks earn the title of elite.

"The stage Joe has been on for the last couple of weeks has magnified who Joe is," Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin said.

It has been Joe Flacco's stage, and Sunday will be his big moment, leading the Ravens to victory.

Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and espn980.com. Contact him at tloverro@washingtonexaminer.com.

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