QB Joe Flacco (1.9.24)

Joe, when you back to the 2012 playoff run, what was it about that team going into that run that you guys were able to capitalize on? And for you personally, how were you feeling going into those playoffs and did you catch kind of a hot streak at the right time? 

“We had been through so much as a team at that point, so I think we’re able to draw on a lot of that to have confidence. When you look back at that one, we lost three games at the end of the year right in a row, but I think we were 9-2 going into that. So you can say that we hit a hot streak for sure, but we were just a really good football team for a few years there and we had a lot of confidence because of that. We had been through a lot together. Not that everybody was the same, but there were a lot of key guys on that team that had been around for a while and been through a handful of playoff games. So we’re battle-tested in that respect. I just think every team has got its own little unique personality and that one had it. And like I said, there was a lot of things that went into why were able to have the confidence to get through it.”


Obviously the teams are different, but this team has gone through a lot, too to get to this point. Is that something that you guys can draw on? 

“I think so. It always helps to go through tough times and truly be tested, whether that’s injuries or close games – finding your identity, things like that, they all help.”


You had a really unbelievable run individually that postseason, about every one of those games. Was that the best you could remember playing? 

“A bunch of things just came together right at the right time. We kind of manipulated our front a little bit with who was starting in our offense, on our offensive line, and I think that really was a big part of it. And then things just kind of go your way. There’s a little bit of fate that’s involved there. I mean, we got off to a good start with a home game against Indy and then went and played a crazy game in Denver. And then we went back to New England where we had some history. I mean, that was the third playoff game I think I had played up there at that point. So like, I just in that unique instance, we had been up there a bunch of times and we had lost an AFC championship game there the year before. So there were definitely things that we could draw on at that time.”


You prepared to face opponents a second time a lot in your career. Is there anything different going into this week that you do differently?

“You just go prepare. I mean, I’ve said it to some of the guys, there’s not this daunting task of getting ready to prepare for 20 games. You’re preparing for one game and that’s it. You’re promised one game here. So I think that’s something good to fall back on. I think you can get comfort in that one game. Prepare as hard as you can for one week and then when that’s all done, we’ll pick up and see where we’re at. As far as playing these guys a couple of weeks ago, I’m sure there are things that we’ll take from the time that we played them, but each game is its own unique challenge and these guys are a good football team. We’re excited for the opportunity to go play a tough game.”


What do you think life experience is and in what ways does it help having been there before?

“I’m sure there’s a level of importance to it in terms of letting the football game come to you, not necessarily riding too high and riding too low when things happen, realizing that it is another football game. But ultimately, the most important thing in playoff games is executing your fundamentals to the highest degree. And I don’t think that necessarily takes experience to do it just takes you staying level-headed and playing within yourself.”


Joe, how do you account for your personal record in the postseason on the road is second only to (Tom) Brady, as far as a number of wins on the road. How do you account for that? 

“Like I said, I think it just goes back to doing the basics the right way. Not overthinking what it means to go on the road, just going and playing a good football game. And when the dust settles, like I said, you pick your head up and see where you are.”


Do you think about that number though? It’s a pretty nice accomplishment.

“I think anytime you get to be in the playoffs to win football games, there’s some party that takes pride in that. No matter where it is. This is what we go to work for every day, is to be in this position and to play these types of games. So I think we should all hold our heads high. Like we earned the right to be playing this Saturday and you should gain something from that. But like I said, once you lay some up and once you’re actually out in the field, none of that matters.”


The Texans found out on Christmas Eve what happens when they don’t pressure you? How do you feel they’ll adjust to that? 

“I’m not in their heads. I think that we’ll have our plan and as long as we execute our plan, then all that stuff will kind of fall into place. Listen, when you play in this league, a lot of these games come down to getting pressure on the quarterback and there are multiple ways to do that. Do you do that with your front? Do you do that by putting pressure, by bringing linebackers, by bringing secondary guys? So we’ll see. I mean, our offensive line has done a great job since I’ve been here and like I said, there’s going to be times where teams come try to pressure you and those usually lead to opportunities if you’re on top of your stuff. So it’s just part of the game every week you have to be ready for teams to do that and that’s part of prepping as an offense. And like I said, I’m not in Houston and I don’t really know what’s going through those guys heads, so we’re just going to prepare like we always do.”


Joe, what do you think about CJ Stroud this season and did you get to watch him at all on Saturday night? And what are your thoughts on him going against you guys this time? 

“I’ve only gotten to watch him a little bit, but he’s been really impressive just from afar in terms of his decision-making and the way everything’s kind of looked. You can tell he can throw the ball. You know I didn’t get a chance – it’s not like I follow college football a ton and Ohio State always has somebody it seems like the last few years that are getting drafted at the top of the draft in the spring. But it seems like he has a lot of armed talent and the impressive part is the fact that he’s been able to make really good decisions all year. So a lot of credit for him for sure.”


Can you think back to your first playoff game, Joe? Were you overwhelmed at all or did you have that attitude that you’re talking about? 

“You know what, we played Miami. We were down in Miami. We played them earlier in the year and played a good game against them. So I think we just – I can’t remember the exact emotions that were going through my body, but I’m sure they were pretty much the same that I deal with today. I don’t remember being overwhelmed or anything. We had a good football team that year and like I said, we had played them and beat them earlier in the year, so I think we drew maybe something from that. I was probably naïve to a certain extent because it probably didn’t matter, but as a rookie, you truly are trying to keep things as simple as possible and do the basics. And I think, like I said, earlier. I think that does lend itself well to playing your best football in the playoffs.”


Joe, when Amari (Cooper) has a game like you did in your first time in Houston, how different do you expect them to approach him to not let that happen? 

“I mean, I think anytime somebody plays like that, you’re definitely going to go into that game and say, all right, we’re not getting beat by that guy again. But once again, it’s not my job to worry too much about that. It’s my job to go out there and play on Saturday and just do what the defense tells me. And you don’t want to overthink it either. You don’t want to take your head off of Amari just because you think that they’re going to have some gigantic plan for them. We got to be ready for everything.”


What were the benefits of the Cincinnati weekend to you? 

“I think ultimately it’s just this team has gone through a lot, and I think just as a whole being able to get guys that have been dealing with stuff for the last 20 weeks since they’ve come back for training camp to give them a chance to kind of get off of their feet again and get a little mental breather and get ready for this week.”


This defense, when you study them going into this game, does that defense look any different from when you played them on Christmas Eve these last couple of weeks here? 

“There are slight differences. They have some different guys that are back or a little bit more banged up. Like we just talked about Amari, maybe they’ll do certain things with them, but I think this defense believes in what they do ultimately and they’re going to do what they think they do well. They’re going to do that. So, there’s always going to be little wrinkles, but it’s our job to attack and prepare for what they do well and then adjust from there.”


Joe, you’ve been talking about January football since you got here and what it’s like. Do you address the team this week about any of that or has that just kind of been addressed in the process? 

“Well, we had a team meeting yesterday and were able to address that a little bit. Just hear some different stories about what playoff football is all about and stuff like that. How much does that ultimately mean? You never know, but it is cool to hear some different perspectives on what people feel like it takes to win at this time of year.”


So you did speak?

“A little bit.”


What does it take to win in January?

“I’ll say it again, everybody puts so much thought into what it takes to win these games and it’s doing the simple things the best you can and just playing good fundamental football. And this is the time of the year where that stuff shows up. Obviously, there’s going to be plays made and guys are going to make a name for themselves that –something’s going to happen over the next five weeks that we’re going to remember forever. And those are the things that you kind of see. But it’s just about playing fundamental, physical football and playing a full 60 minutes. And no matter what’s going on at the moment, being able to keep the blinders on and keep moving forward.”


Did you play DeMeco (Ryans)? You’re almost the same age. Can you imagine being a head coach right now? 

“No, I’ve never had any aspirations of being a coach. I guess if I really thought hard about it, you could wrap your head around certain aspects of it. But, man, just all that you have to deal with being a head coach. And the way you have to be in front of the team every single day, I think more so just the scheme part of it. I think as a player there’s a certain part of it that you know, and as a quarterback, you’re always simplifying things so that you can go out there and play fast, but to be on top of everything and to be able to teach every single position on an offense or defense and then put it all together and build it’s impressive. It’s really impressive. And I know he’s played and I know he’s been in it, but it’s different than teaching other people, so it’s definitely pretty cool to see. You can see, obviously, that he’s been motivated since he’s been done playing and probably even at some point when he was playing to do something like this. So, a lot of credit to him.”

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