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Shutdown Corner

Championship Sunday MVPs: Joe Flacco, Colin Kaepernick set up Super Bowl XLVII showdown

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Joe Flacco had three touchdowns on Sunday (Getty Images)

Joe Flacco, quarterback, Baltimore Ravens: After a relatively quiet first half, Flacco stepped up in the final 30 minutes, completing 15-of-24 pass attempts for 159 yards and three touchdowns as the Ravens scored 21 straight points to defeat the New England Patriots 28-13 and advance to Super Bowl XLVII. On the night, Flacco completed 21-of-36 attempts for 240 yards and three touchdowns for a passer rating of 106.3.

In 12 postseason games, Flacco has now passed for 2,385 yards with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He has eight touchdowns and zero interceptions during the 2012 postseason. Flacco's performance could not have come at a better time as the 2008 first-round pick out of Delaware is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in March. That won't happen, though, as the Ravens will likely use the franchise tag to buy themselves a few more months to hammer out a deal that could include around $50 million in guaranteed money.

[Slideshow: Ravens top Pats to set up Harbaugh Bowl]

Colin Kaepernick, quarterback, San Francisco 49ers: Continuing with the quarterback theme, Kaepernick completed 16-of-21 pass attempts for 233 yards and a touchdown in the 49ers' come-from-behind 28-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Kaepernick only had two carries for 21 yards, but the threat his running ability presented the Falcons defense allowed running backs Frank Gore and LaMichael James to combine for 26 carries, 124 yards and three touchdowns.

With seven NFL starts under his belt entering the playoffs, Kaepernick has been phenomenal, completing 33-of-52 pass attempts for 496 yards with three touchdowns and an interception in postseason play. Kaepernick also has 18 rushing attempts for 202 yards and two touchdowns.

[Related: Colin Kaepernick validate's Jim Harbaugh's gutsy midseason decision]

We'll also add a bonus MVP for 49ers tight end Vernon Davis. As we noted in our NFC Championship Game preview, the Falcons defense struggled to defend tight ends during the regular season, which may have led to an increased role for Davis in Sunday's game plan. Davis had just seven receptions for 105 yards in the 49ers' prior seven regular and postseason games, but was often left wide open on Sunday, catching five passes for a team-high 106 yards with a four-yard touchdown late in the first half.

Matt Ryan, quarterback, Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons were unable to hang on to a large lead, but don't blame Ryan. The 2008 first-round pick out of Boston College completed 30-of-42 pass attempts for 396 yards and three touchdowns, was sacked only one time, and his one of his two mistakes –a third quarter interception – occurred when wide receiver Roddy White slipped. Ryan lost a fumble in the third quarter when he mishandled a shotgun snap and, like with the interception, the 49ers were unable to convert either turnover into points.

Ryan now has 1,230 yards and nine touchdown passes in five postseason games of his career and, according to Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com, could receive a new contract this offseason. Ryan is scheduled to earn $10 million in non-guaranteed base salary in 2013, the final year of his rookie contract.

Anquan Boldin, wide receiver, Baltimore Ravens: For the third week of the postseason, Boldin earned "Shutdown Corner MVP" honors for coming up with a big second-half performance. Held without a reception on two targets in the first half, Boldin caught five of six Flacco passes thrown his way in the second half for 60 yards. Included among those five receptions were two touchdown receptions in a span of three minutes and 43 seconds in the fourth quarter, extending the Ravens' lead from one point to an insurmountable 15 points with just over 11 minutes to play.

On Boldin's first touchdown, he lept over safety Devin McCourty and, while airborne, moved the ball to shield against an attempt by safety Steve Gregory to dislodge the ball from his grasp. On the second touchdown, Boldin simply beat backup cornerback Marquice Cole to haul in the perfectly placed ball from Flacco, who smartly identified the mismatch.

Julio Jones, wide receiver, Atlanta Falcons: Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff's decision to trade five picks to move up and select Jones with the sixth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft can no longer be considered controversial. Jones had a sensational game on Sunday, catching 11 passes (on 13 targets) for 182 yards and two touchdowns in the Falcons' 28-24 loss to the 49ers on Sunday.

Jones' 46-yard touchdown on the opening series put the Falcons ahead 7-0 and a remarkable 27-yard catch-and-run on the next possession would convert a 3rd-and-10 opportunity and set-up a 35-yard field goal by Matt Bryant that extended the Falcons' lead to 10-0. Jones overcame blanket coverage to haul in a 20-yard touchdown on the opening play of the second quarter that gave the Falcons a 17-0 lead.

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