The Cleveland Browns are back in the playoffs thanks to a guy who was not even on their roster just a few days before Thanksgiving.
Joe Flacco has turned back the clock since joining the Browns late in November, currently riding a four-game winning streak, in which he has thrown for over 300 yards in each contest.
The Browns clinched a playoff spot with their 37-20 win over the New York Jets last Thursday, and Flacco has become a fan favorite.
He is the fourth starting quarterback for the Browns this year – Deshaun Watson was ruled out for the season with a shoulder injury, and the team went back-and-forth between PJ Walker and Dorian Thompson-Robinson before landing on Flacco. Now, he will be starting a playoff game for the first time since the 2014 season.
Flacco, who turns 39 in two weeks, was the 18th pick of the 2008 NFL Draft out of the University of Delaware and has not played in six games in a season since 2019.
Now, because of his play, he has put himself right in the Comeback of the Year conversation.
Of course, Damar Hamlin has long been the odds-on favorite, and remains so, due to his return from an on-field cardiac arrest.
However, because of Flacco’s play, combined with Hamlin playing just 17 snaps on defense and sticking to mostly a special teams role, Flacco’s odds have skyrocketed.
Former NFL sideline reporter Michele Tafoya praised Hamlin, and “the fact that he’s standing up is a comeback, no question.”
“But when you have a guy like Joe Flacco, come into this situation and sort of, I don’t want to say resurrect your team, but really, suddenly give them a new life, a life they hadn’t seemed to have had, that is something,” Tafoya told OutKick’s Dan Dakich on Tuesday.
“It is interesting how a guy who’s sort of, you bring him, and you go, ‘OK, this is our backup plan.’ And suddenly breathes new life into this thing,” she continued. “The chemistry in football is one of the most fascinating things you will ever see. It could just take this one guy saying the right things at the right time, giving others confidence, giving others a sense of ‘Whoa, we might have something here to turn a season.’ And it seems like that’s what’s happening in Cleveland. It makes it fun for them… This is really spicy, and it’s fun to me to see.”
Flacco has thrown for 13 touchdowns and 1,616 yards in his five games with the Browns after backing up the Jets the previous three seasons. He won Super Bowl XLVII with his now AFC North rival, Baltimore Ravens, whom he spent 11 seasons with.