Ravens fans and beat writers for MASNsports.com weren't the only ones impressed with Joe Flacco's effort against the Chiefs on Sunday.
His head coach was as well.
Flacco had his playoff coming out party in Kansas City, going 25-of-34 for 265 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
He led the Ravens on six scoring drives and fought off a ferocious Chiefs pass rush which rarely gave him a clean pocket all afternoon.
Those outside Ravens headquarters were thrilled with the performance, but I expected John Harbaugh to brush Flacco's game off as just another solid effort. Harbaugh hates comparing one game or performance to another, and he's not a fan of big-picture questions, especially come playoff time, when the focus is very much week-to-week.
That's why it was all the more surprising to hear Harbaugh give the following response when asked whether he felt Flacco's performance could be a developmental step for him:
"I'd like to probably stand here and say it's no big deal - and Joe will probably say it's not a big deal - but I was happy for him," Harbaugh said. "I thought for him to come up in a playoff game - and he's had a few of those and he's always played well enough to win three times before this, so that's been a big plus for us - but I thought he kind of took the game over at times during the course of the game. And that was really good to see; that's positive.
"This week's a whole new challenge. I don't think you can take anything from one week to the next, and it was also guys stepping up and playing well around him - receivers making plays, offensive line, coaches putting guys in position. All those things, I think, Joe would tell you are a part of it."
Flacco did indeed take the game over at times, and the effort that he put together was an important stepping stone for him in his third pro season and sixth playoff game, especially the way he had struggled statistically in his first five postseason contests.
Even Harbaugh - the kind of "Oh, it's just another game" - is willing to admit that.