After the Ravens failed to score with 2:44 left in the game, turning the ball over on downs at the Steeler 2-yard-line, Baltimore's defense allowed Pittsburgh just one net yard on the ensuing drive, leading to a Steeler punt and one last shot for the Ravens.
"Joe Cool" lived up to his nickname by taking the Ravens -- helped by a 10-yard penalty against Pittsburgh on the punt -- from the Steelers' 40 yard line to the end zone in just four plays in 36 seconds, culminating with an 18-yard game-winning scoring pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh with just 32 seconds left in the game.
It doesn't get much better than that. That's why it's not surprising many Ravens observers are already pointing to last Sunday's contest as Flacco's biggest game ever in his two-plus year tenure both with the Ravens and as a starting QB in the NFL.
"I think there are going to be a lot of defining moments for Joe, and this is going to be one of them and one that all Ravens fans are going to remember for a long time," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh.
Flacco completed 24 of 37 passes for 256 yards and the game-winning touchdown (he was also intercepted and sacked one time each).
"There's not too many better ways to win a game when you're coming to Pittsburgh," Flacco said. "I mean, you blow somebody out and that's fun and all, but when the game is that close through it all and you go and win it on the last drive, once you win it, there's no other better way to win a game.
"It was awesome, I couldn't be more proud of our guys. They hung in there tough all day against a good pass rush, and our offensive line battled their butt off and did a good job. Our receivers stayed strong and it was a great game for all of us."
None more greater than for Flacco. While so much attention the last two years has been on guys like Brett Favre, Kurt Warner and Drew Brees, Flacco has gone about becoming perhaps the most underrated QB in the NFL.
Ever since he was given the Ravens' starting job right out of college, Flacco has continued to improve exponentionally. Consider the numbers:
• Flacco is 23-13-0 as a starter, including 3-1 thus far this season. He also has a 3-2 postseason record, leading the Ravens to the playoffs in each of his first two season.
• In the Ravens' last 21 regular season wins dating back to 2008, Flacco has thrown 29 TD passes and just 5 interceptions.
• Baltimore is 17-1 when Flacco produces a 95 passer rating or better in a game, and the Ravens are 12-4 when Flacco throws for at least 200 yards.
Flacco hasn't just flown under the NFL radar most of his young career thus far, he's been in virtual stealth mode.
"Joe just chills, he be chillin'," Houshmandzadeh said. "When you look at him, he's always calm."
But if Sunday wasn't Flacco's coming out party to join the elite quarterbacks of the NFL, it was a big step towards it from a guy who continues to gain confidence with each snap.
"I want it on my shoulders, I want people to want me to win the game," Flacco said.
Sunday was the perfect example. Even though the Ravens took over the ball for the final time with just 1:08 left at Pittsburgh's 40, Flacco calmly and confidently went about engineering the winning scoring drive.
"I think Joe is confident in everybody," veteran Ravens receiver Derrick Mason said. "He can scan the field and see that if one of us is covered, he can go to someone else. It's hard for defenses to really sit down and gameplan for us."
The Ravens hadn't won at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field since December 2006. In addition, four of the last five regular season meetings between the two teams -- with Flacco at QB for the Ravens -- have been decided by three points.
The fifth time, the margin was a whopping four points. The only other game in that stretch was the 2008 AFC Championship Game, when Pittsburgh beat Baltimore 23-14 to advance to -- and eventually win -- the Super Bowl.
"I think we've played good games (in Pittsburgh), we just haven't won any," Flacco said. "So, to finally come out and win one, it being another tight game like they all have been, it feels really good. We're making that next step, and 3-1 sounds a lot better than 2-2, so I think we all feel pretty good about it."
The Ravens may feel good about it, but not the Steelers. By virtue of the win, Baltimore not only tied with Pittsburgh for the lead in the AFC North but also have the early tiebreaker advantage if the season comes down to head-to-head performance between the two arch-rivals.
"(Flacco) is a good quarterback," conceded Steelers safety Ryan Clark, whose secondary was burned on the game-winning TD pass. "He's been starting for three years now. He's played in a lot of playoff games. He's played in a lot of situations and done an awesome job. We have a lot of respect for that guy right there. He can make all the throws and he showed that at the end of the game."
While others exalted in Flacco's heroics against the Steelers, Mason isn't quite ready to say it was Flacco's defining game or moment.
But that's not a negative thing by any means. Mason believes Flacco has plenty of even bigger games and outcomes ahead of him as he continues to mature and further develop into one of the NFL's best quarterbacks.
"We've got many more to go, so I'm not going to label this as Joe's defining game," Mason said. "Nor am I going to look at it as a defining game for the team. It was a game where Joe came in, he played very well, he did the things we needed him to do and in the end, he found the open guy and put it right on him. We'll see how this season continues to go. We have 12 more games left in the regular season, so hopefully Joe will have many more of these defining games. He's going to need to."
Ironically, it was in Pittsburgh that Flacco not only earned perhaps his biggest win as an NFL quarterback, it was also the same place that he struggled collegiately. He spent his first two years as a college QB at the University of Pittsburgh, but was redshirted as a freshman and saw just sparing action as a sophomore, prompting him to transfer to Delaware for the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
And what seasons they were, as Flacco passed for over 6,300 yards, 36 touchdowns and just 15 interceptions. In 2007, he was considered one of the most accurate passers in college ball as he led the Blue Hens to an 8-3 regular season mark, followed by three straight playoff game wins before losing in the FCS championship game to Appalachian State -- the same year ASU upset Michigan in Ann Arbor in what many call the biggest upset in college football history.
When Baltimore selected Flacco as their quarterback with its No. 1 pick (18th overall) in the 2008 NFL draft, it raised some eyebrows. Even with his outstanding numbers in college, a quarterback that stands a towering 6-6 and weighs 238 pounds is typically either going to be a big star ... or a big bust.
Fortunately for Flacco and the Ravens, it's been the former rather than the latter, further reaffirmed by Sunday's win.