It was a pretty good weekend to be a Blue Hen. First, the University of Delaware welcomed the newest member of the Blue Hen family into the fold when it announced the hiring of head football coach Dave Brock. Brock addressed almost 5,000 fans at the Carpenter Center on Sunday during halftime of the Delaware women’s basketball game. In that contest, Elena Delle Donne dropped 38 points on the Towson Tigers, as the Hens won their seventh consecutive game overall and their 25th straight CAA contest courtesy of a 76-44 rout. Then everyone went home, turned on their televisions and watched former UD quarterback Joe Flacco lead his Baltimore Ravens (including Delaware alum Gino Gradkowski) to the Super Bowl.
As 72-hour stretches go, this was a pretty eventful one for the First State.
Flacco’s accomplishment was the most significant, considering he had to topple future Hall of Famers Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in consecutive weeks to reach football’s biggest stage. Flacco led his Ravens to 21 unanswered second-half points to win as eight-point underdogs in New England on Sunday.
For a guy who has had to endure nothing but naysayers despite a great deal of success during his five years in the National Football League, this postseason run has to feel especially sweet. In victories over Indianapolis, Denver and the Patriots, the former Hen has thrown eight touchdowns and zero interceptions. Not bad for a guy that most of the world felt was nothing more than a game manager coming into these playoffs.
In the AFC Championship Game, Flacco became the first quarterback to ever beat Brady when the Patriots signal caller took a lead into intermission at home. New England was 67-0 under those circumstances entering the weekend, but Flacco paid that fact no attention.
After a run-heavy opening half, the Ravens got more aggressive with their play-calling in the game’s final 30 minutes. Flacco rewarded offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell and head coach John Harbaugh for giving him the green light by completing 15-of-24 passes for 159 yards and three touchdowns in the second half.
In his last four playoff games he has now out-played Brady twice and Manning and Andrew Luck once each. In five years in the league Flacco has won six road playoff games, which is more than any quarterback ever. He has won eight playoff games overall, and if he has not earned everyone’s respect by now, than people just are not paying attention.
He will become the second Blue Hen to ever quarterback a team in the Super Bowl, but will hope for better results than Rich Gannon got with the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII. That day, Gannon was intercepted a Super-Bowl record five times. Three of those picks were returned for touchdowns.
The Hens are the 11th school to have multiple alums start at quarterback in the Super Bowl and the first FCS program.
Joining Flacco in New Orleans will be Gradkowski, who may have summed up the emotion of two Hens playing in the same Super Bowl, best after his team’s win. He told Martin Frank of The News Journal; “That’s pretty damn cool.”
It will be cool for Delaware fans to watch two of their own participate in the biggest spectacle in sports.