Cleveland Browns: Joe Flacco has been a postseason standout

Dec 24, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Joe Flacco (15) on the sideline
Dec 24, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Joe Flacco (15) on the sideline / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The irony is amazing for that just over a decade, he spent plenty of time humbling the franchise he’s currently playing for. Now quarterback Joe Flacco is preparing for his first postseason action since 2014 while he was still the field general for the Baltimore Ravens.

On Saturday in the Lone Star State, the Houston Texans host the Cleveland Browns in the opening installment for the 2023 NFL playoffs. Kevin Stefanski’s club is in the postseason for the second time in four years. The club’s top-ranked defensive unit owned the headlines for the majority of the season. Then along came Flacco, the Browns’ fourth different starting quarterback, after not being with a team in 2023.

Return to the NFL

He made his debut in Week 13 against the Rams and led Cleveland to a touchdown on his first possession of the year. He finished the afternoon with 254 yards through the air, two scores and an interception in a 36-19 loss at SoFi Stadium.

Flacco would start the next four games, all victories, and continued to sling the football. In his five outings with the team this season, he’s connected on 60.3 percent of his throws for an impressive 1,616 yards and 13 touchdowns while being picked off eight times.

Postseason pedigree

Now it's the playoffs and that's something the 16-year signal caller is very familiar with. He started 15 games with the Ravens and the team came up with a victory 10 times. In those contests, Flacco threw for a combined 3,223 yards, 25 scores and 10 interceptions, with one lost fumble. That’s made even more impressive by the fact that in his first five playoff game, there was one TD pass and six interceptions.

His most memorable postseason came in 2012, when the Ravens won their second Super Bowl title. The AFC North champions finished 10-6 that year and would have to take the long route to New Orleans. In beating the Colts, wins at Denver and at New England, and on Super Sunday against the 49ers, Flacco hit on 57.9 percent of his throws for a combined 1,140 yards and 11 TD passes without throwing a pick. He threw for 287 yards and three scores and grabbed game MVP honors in the team’s 34-31 win over San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII.

Rematch time

This is Flacco and the Browns’ second trip to Houston this season. In Cleveland’s 36-22 victory in Week 16, he threw for 387 yards and three scores, as well as a pair of interceptions. Amari Cooper finished with a franchise-record 265 receiving yards, with two touchdowns.

This could be quite the shootout with the Texans, who this time will have rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud back in the lineup. The second overall pick last April will obviously be making his first playoff start. For Flacco, it’s postseason start No. 16 as he hopes to lead the Cleveland Browns to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance.