We may never know whether Harbaugh would have juggled the Ravens' offensive line had left guard Jah Reid not injured his toe in the regular-season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals but that's probably not important now.
What matters is that the current group with Bryant McKinnie at left tackle, rookie Kelechi Osemele at left guard, Matt Birk at center, Pro Bowler Marshal Yanda at right guard and Michael Oher at right tackle has been dominant in the Ravens' playoff run.
"They are the heart of our team," wide receiver Torrey Smith said. "They like to give the quarterbacks, the receivers and the running backs all of the credit, but if it wasn't for those guys, we wouldn't have anything. When they play well, we go well."
During the regular season, Flacco was sacked 35 times. Only seven quarterbacks were taken down more.
Rice averaged just over 71 rushing yards per game. In the playoffs, Flacco has been sacked only four times in three games while Rice has averaged 82 rushing yards per game.
The offensive line didn't just limit vaunted pass rushers like the Colts' Dwight Freeney and the Broncos' Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller. They rendered them complete non-factors.
Jan. 20: Trailing the New England Patriots 13-7 at halftime of the AFC championship game, the Ravens put the game in Flacco's hands.
The Ravens waited a year to avenge last season's AFC championship game loss to the Patriots so the last thing they wanted to do was go down passively. That was the message in the visiting locker room at halftime after the offense looked especially sluggish for the first 30 minutes.
"In the first half, we were probably a little bit run-heavy and they did a good job of stopping it," Flacco said. "We didn't come all the way here to play it safe and hope to win. We came here to win the AFC championship game and you have to play to win."
Flacco was 6-of-12 for 81 yards in the first half as the Ravens accumulated just 130 yards of offense. All he did in the second half was go 15-of-24 for 159 yards and three touchdowns.
The Ravens' three second-half scoring drives lasted 24 total plays and Flacco, operating in a shotgun and out of the no-huddle, threw on 18 of them and scrambled for a first down on another.
The Ravens returned to a run-heavy attack late in the fourth quarter when they had a two-score lead and they were running out the clock. By then, their trip to New Orleans for the Super Bowl was well in their grasp.
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