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Saturday, January 3, 2009
Rookie QB Ryan out, Flacco up next

By James Walker

Posted by's James Walker

MIAMI --"Matty Ice" didn't look so smooth Saturday in his playoff debut.

"Joe Cool" is up next on Sunday.

As football analysts and former players have said this week, the postseason differs from the regular season. The intensity is higher, mistakes are magnified, and rookies are often affected.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, the 2008 Rookie of the Year, learned that hard lesson in Saturday night's 30-24 wild-card loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Ryan played like a first-year quarterback, throwing for 199 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and one lost fumble. His three turnovers were the difference in a close postseason game.

Now it's Joe Flacco's turn when the Baltimore Ravens (11-5) face the Miami Dolphins (11-5) Sunday. Flacco, like Ryan, has looked solid for most of the regular season, and the Ravens hope that continues in the playoffs.

But will Flacco's postseason performance be better than Ryan's Sunday?

Can the Ravens surpass Atlanta by being the only team this year to win a playoff game with a rookie head coach and rookie quarterback?

Everyone will find out Sunday afternoon.