Sunday, September 15, 2013
Joe Flacco delivers on emotional day
By Jamison Hensley
BALTIMORE -- On the day when Joe Flacco's wife gave birth to his second son an hour before kickoff, the Baltimore Ravens came back to beat the Cleveland Browns, 14-6, because their quarterback remained his calm and composed self.
Flacco still didn't resemble the Super Bowl MVP from seven months ago, but his poise was critical in the Ravens avoiding an 0-2 start and knocking off the Browns for an 11 straight time.
After trailing 6-0 at halftime, Flacco completed 10 of 12 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown in the second half. More importantly, his passes converted six third downs after halftime.
It was timely performance on an emotional day for Flacco.
"Anytime you have a child, it's one of your best days," Flacco said after the game before driving to New Jersey to be with his wife and newborn child. "The game didn't go exactly how we wanted it to, but that's how we've won football games around here. We're able to win like this, and some things you have to do it in an ugly way."
Ugly is exactly the right word to describe the Ravens' start to the game. Wide receiver Marlon Brown dropped a touchdown pass off his fingertips on the first drive. Justin Tucker hit two field goals wide right in the first half after missing only one kick at home all of last season. And, in the second quarter, the Ravens produced 49 total yards and one first down on three drives.
Wasn't the Ravens' offense feeling frustrated at that point?
"I wasn't frustrated because I looked at Joe, and Joe wasn't frustrated," said Brown, who redeemed himself with a touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. "And he's our leader. So if our leader isn't frustrated, and he's calm and cool, I'm going to be like,' We're going to be alright because Joe's going to be alright.'"
In the second half, Flacco was 7-of-8 for 87 yards on third downs. On the go-ahead touchdown drive in the third quarter, Flacco converted three third downs: a 23-yard pass to Torrey Smith, a 10-yarder to Brown and an 11-yarder to Brandon Stokley.
It was a predictable finish for Flacco considering the opponent. Flacco has never lost to the Browns, improving to 11-0 against them. He owns the most wins by a quarterback against an opponent without a loss since the 1970 merger.
"We had to just take our time and be patient," Flacco said. "It was only 6-0, no need to panic or get all crazy."
Flacco remained calm even though he came to the game knowing his wife, Dana, was in labor. After warm-ups, he received a call from her about the birth of their son Daniel.
"To play with that on your mind," coach John Harbaugh said, "I think obviously says a lot, and we appreciate that."
Flacco acknowledged his newborn son was on his mind.
"Of course, not on the field but on the sideline," said Flacco, who finished 22-of-33 for 211 yards. "I can't wait to go back [to New Jersey] and see him."