In the world of professional football, legend is certainly about performance, but it’s almost always tied to toughness.
Joe Flacco had already locked up the achievement part of that equation by leading the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl XLVII victory over San Francisco and truth be told, 122 straight NFL starts in today’s pass-happy environment, where so many defensive coordinators believe it’s get-to-the-quarterback-or-bust, should have locked up the perseverance part.
If it didn’t though, the fact that Flacco will not be making consecutive start No. 123 because he finished Sunday’s game on a torn ACL will certainly live forever in Baltimore.
The veteran quarterback stayed in Sunday’s 16-13 comeback win over the St. Louis Rams despite suffering a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee on the game-winning drive when backup left tackle James Hurst, playing for the injured Eugene Monroe, rolled into the veteran signal caller.
“I felt a lot of crunches and stuff like that,” Flacco said. “I felt a lot of stuff.”
Considering the Ravens were just 2-7 coming in to the game, no one would have blamed Flacco for waiving the white flag, signaling for the trainers and calling it an afternoon but that mentality is just not in his DNA.
“I didn’t know what was wrong,” Flacco said. “The fact that I was able to hop up and head toward the sideline, I said, ‘Oh OK, let’s hang out here and see what I can do.’ I don’t know if that’s the best thing, but it’s just a reaction.”
Flacco couldn’t do much on the instability of two, completely shorn ligaments but was able to hand it off twice to Buck Allen, he himself playing after star running back Justin Forsett broke his arm against the Rams, before Justin Tucker came on to boot the 47-yard, game-winning field goal.
“He completed the whole series with two completely torn ligaments and stayed on the field with the clock running, because he knew if he comes off, now we have clock issues,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “He stays out there, gets the run that pops it, puts us in better field-goal range and then runs the clock down.
“I think it was a courageous performance by Joe at the end.”
“I’m probably still in shock a little bit,” Flacoo said. “You play football and you play as long as I have and you play as hard as we do out there, then stuff like this happens. You have to just stand tall and be tough about it. That’s all you can do. I think that’s the way I am about everything in my life, and I’m not going to be any different this time.”
A third win in a lost season was just as important to Flacco as the 34-31 heart-stopping win over the Niners in New Orleans back in February of 2013.
And a ’15 Ravens campaign that has been defined by Murphy’s Law in the Charm City with Flacco and Forsett joining Steve Smith, Terrell Suggs, Jeremy Zuttah, Breshad Perriman and 10 others on season-ending injured reserve will now finally be remembered for something other than misery … the legend of Joe.
“I’ve been really fortunate,” Flacco said. “I’m really proud of the fact that I was able to go that long. I wanted to go my whole career without missing anything. It’s just the nature of the game. It gets guys. It’s just the way it goes. I just have to go out there, rehab, get back and be stronger.”
After Sunday few doubt that will be the ultimate result.
— John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jfmcmullen — Also catch John this season on ESPN Southwest Florida every Monday at 3 PM ET; on ESPN Lexington every Thursday at 6:05 ET, and live every Tuesday from 2 to 6 PM ET at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City for the NFL Wraparound on ESPN South Jersey.
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