QB Joe Flacco (12.28.23)

Just to be able to clinch at home in the electric atmosphere. We’ve asked you every week if this is becoming a little surreal. Is it? 

“You know, it’s really cool. I’ve. I haven’t been a part of a game, really. I haven’t played in a game where every stadium has these LED lights now, so you could just turn them off and turn them right back on and coming out of the tunnel with whatever. I don’t know if people had their iPhones going or if they gave them. I mean, it was really cool, unbelievable atmosphere. So, yeah, to get it done in front of the home crowd, to actually get ourselves into that next step of the season definitely made it extra special.”


Joe, it almost seemed like everyone wanted to celebrate after the first half. I know the second half, was it tough for that reason?

“Listen, these games are all tough and it doesn’t matter who you’re playing or how much time is left. It’s just like, you know, these games tend to come down to the last few minutes. No matter what. It was a tough second half. I mean, you turn into a fan at some point when you kind of get up like that and you just want the clock to hit zero. So, you got to give a lot of credit to our defense. I know the Jets kind of moved the ball down there in the first drive, but they ended up settling for a field goal. And then you got to give it to our field goal team. Our defense did a great job in the second half, though, not really giving those guys anything and making sure we won the game.”


Did you hear the Flacco chants? 

“Yeah, I heard him a little bit. Yeah.”


What did you think? 

“Yeah, it’s cool. I mean, just put yourself in that position. I mean, you can’t deny it. I said it from the very beginning. I mean, the city has been unbelievable. My teammates have been unbelievable in terms of just embracing me onto this football team. So it’s all been great and it makes it that much more special to be able to come in here and play some good football.”


What worked so well in that first half? You and David Njoku and that touchdown pass to Jerome Ford for the second one?

“Hey, listen, I mean, we just seemed to have some room out there. We were moving a line of scrimmage I felt like a little bit when we handed the ball off and in the passing game, there was some space out there and guys made good plays when they got the ball in his hands. I mean, we had the first third down and you get the ball to Dave underneath, and he goes, who knows how long? It’s pretty cool when you can get a guy the ball five yards down the field and you can get a 35 yard gain out of it.”


What was kind of the reaction? I mean, you find out Amari (Cooper) is not going to play within a couple of hours of the game. What was sort of the adjustment? What was that kind of pregame conversation adjusted? 

“You could see the wide receivers coach getting with all those guys and making sure that they had it nailed down. I threw one pass to him in warmups and then he didn’t take anymore. And I was like, nobody said anything, really. Obviously, you’re just out there warming up before the game. And I’m like, I wonder what that means. I don’t think it’s good, but who knows? Maybe he’s just going to go in and he feels like, I’ll just get ready inside the locker room. And then somebody said to me, ‘Hey, it looks like we’re going to have more of this personnel, more tiger personnel.’ And I’m like, I guess he’s not playing, so I’m really hot, it’s a shame that Elijah (Moore) kind of got tackled on his head there, but I’m really happy for him. The way he stepped up tonight and had a big game for us. It just gives guys opportunities to step up and show what they can, you know, Amari’s an unbelievable player and we miss him anytime he’s not out there. So you definitely have some thoughts, like, oh, alright, let’s go. We got to be ready. So you got to give it to the CO, you got to give it to our receiver coach, you got to give it to all those guys for just being prepared to go in there and play any position.”


You joined this team six weeks ago, Watson was going for surgery. How would you describe the spirit of the team that you joined at that point? 

“You know what, I heard nothing but good things as I was coming in from a couple of the guys that I’ve played with here. And I really didn’t feel anything but that either. You could feel these guys had a lot of energy and still had a lot of belief. I think at that point they had already dealt with a pretty good amount this year and they had gotten through it. So that builds that kind of character and that energy around those guys. So it’s a special group of football players in there and I think they’ve been holding their heads up high the whole time. So, it’s really been nothing but that.”


A huge fist bump after that touchdown to Elijah (Moore). Can you just describe some of your motions when you throw those touchdowns? 

“I don’t know. I mean, you just lose control of yourself a little bit in the moment. It’s an unbelievable game. The crowd out there was just amazing. When you’re in the arena like that and you just have all those people and you’re doing it with your teammates and I don’t know, you’re pushing towards a win to get you into the playoffs. Like I said, I think you kind of lose control of yourself a little bit, but it’s just so much fun.”


Joe, you’ve played a lot of big games over the years, but describe the feeling clinching a playoff in front of that crowd that hasn’t experienced a lot of playoff football over the years?

“Yeah, it was special. I mean, this is obviously a very unique situation for me. So, a lot of different emotions are going through my head and just the city has been so unbelievable and you can tell how hungry they are for good football and they’ve been getting it all year. And it makes a difference to go out there and play in front of a crowd like that week in and week out. So, if we can continue to play good football and these guys can continue to show up like that. That’s just how you build an organization year after year. And this city, you can just tell they love football and it’s special going out there and playing for them.”


Talk about, you know, it was kind of a cool thing to see you being followed by four little Flacco number 15 jerseys and then you spent some time out there on the field with them. How cool and special is it for you to be able to share this with your family? 

“Yeah, I mean, you don’t know how many of these moments you’re going to get. Not too many people get the opportunity to have kids as old as mine and that understand what’s going on—get to witness this. And I think it’s cool for them, but ultimately it’s really cool for me. I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life. And anything that you get to do with people that you love, especially your children, they just make everything that much more special.”


Six weeks ago, you didn’t have a team. Now you’re leading one into the playoffs. When you step back and think about it, how surreal is this moment for you? 

“Yeah, I don’t want to step back yet. I mean, obviously we’re going to have a three-day weekend here where I’ll probably get a chance to, but I want to try to stay in the moment as much as possible. Every now and then, you get a couple. Right, now it’s already midnight, but you’ll get a couple of hours here before I fall asleep that you’ll kind of get to lay around and think about how cool of a night it was. And hopefully I’ll try to let those 2 hours linger as long as possible so I can enjoy it a little bit, because by the time you wake up the next day, you’re like, okay, that felt good, but we got to start to move on a little bit.”


A couple third down conversions, just talk about how important those were, especially to keep some of those drives alive and eventually score off of them?

“Yeah, I don’t remember all of them, but I know the first one we had was a third and pretty long, and they dropped back, and I was willing to just take the check down to Dave (David Njoku), and you can see as soon as he caught the ball, he had some acceleration going towards the left. And I’m like, oh, man, he’s going to get this. And not only did he get got, who knows how much more. So, you have got to remember, sometimes your job as a quarterback is just to get the ball in somebody’s hands and make good decisions and then let everything else happen from there. And that’s kind of what happened on a few of those.”


The touchdown pass—the second one to Jerome (Ford), where you kind of roll out. At what point did you sort of make the decision?

“I think I actually tucked the ball. I was ready to run. I think I peeked behind me to make sure I didn’t get stripped again like I did a few weeks ago. And then I was ready to run. And then all of a sudden, he kind of popped into my vision. And I remember as I threw it, I looked over and I looked over, and I could see the yard marker, like the line of scrimmage because as I was letting it go, I was pretty sure, but I wasn’t 100%. So, when I looked to the left, I was like, okay, yeah, that was definitely behind it, and that was good. What a run to get to the end zone. It just seemed like when he got down to like the ten-yard line there, he made a couple of people miss and then just barrels laying in the end zone. So that was awesome.”




# # #


***Visit the Browns Media Center for materials provided by the Browns communications department, including media schedules, press releases, quotes, photos, media guides, rosters, depth charts and more.***