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QB Joe Flacco brings veteran and playoff experience as Browns embark on postseason

Flacco has won seven road playoff games in his NFL career

Flacco 1.9

QB Joe Flacco has been here before.

Not only has he been through postseason runs in his tenured career, but he's also handled the challenges of playoff games on the road. In his 16-year NFL career, Flacco has won seven road playoff games – which ties him with Tom Brady for the most in league history.

It's experience that could prove beneficial as the Browns will play in the Wild Card round against the Texans in Houston.

"I think it just goes back to doing the basics the right way," Flacco said. "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."

As Flacco prepares to lead the Browns in their first playoff game since the 2020 season, he reflected on a past season in his career when he helped his team accomplish their goals even through a bit of adversity.

In the 2012 season – as Flacco led the Ravens through the playoffs and eventually to the Super Bowl – Flacco recalled the struggles they had been through that season. The Ravens closed out the 2012 regular season losing four of the last five games. While their roster had seen minor changes, Flacco said that they had key players still on the roster that had not only experienced the playoff games in their career, but also that went through losing in the AFC Championship in 2011 or losing in the divisional round in 2010. It was needed throughout their postseason run.

"So, we were battle tested in that respect," Flacco said. "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." 

Fast forward 11 years later, Flacco is back in a similar position with the Browns – even after signing with the Browns on Nov. 20, and becoming the starting quarterback. The Browns have dealt with a different kind of adversity this season, battling through a multitude of season-ending injuries to star players or key players missing time with injuries. Through it all, they finished the regular season 11-6, clinched a playoff berth and landed as the fifth seed in the AFC. With Flacco at the helm of the offense, the Browns went 4-1. He threw for 1,616 yards and 13 touchdowns through five games.

As Flacco has continued his journey with the Browns this season and prepares for the postseason, he believes he can draw on his experience with the Ravens and that playoff run following the 2012 season.

"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," Flacco said.

As the Browns spend the week preparing to face the Texans, Flacco said when it comes to playoff football, the most important element is to execute the fundamentals to the highest degree. He said they have to stay level-headed and play within themselves when out on the field.

Flacco has the career to back up that sentiment. Saturday's Wild Card matchup will be Flacco's 17th postseason game in his career and has a 7-5 playoff road record. He helped the Ravens win the Super Bowl in 2012. His knowledge alone at the helm of the Browns offense heading into the first round of the playoffs can be beneficial not only to the younger players, but to the team as a whole.

"I think when you're talking about Joe's career, he's obviously done this at a high level in the biggest game," Stefanski said. "So, I think the confidence comes from demonstrated ability. And with Joe, he's done it in these big games. But more than that, I think his teammates see how he works on a daily basis. I think they see him out there on the practice field, in the meeting rooms, and they trust in his preparation."

The Browns are returning to Houston to face a Texans team they saw in Week 16. Flacco threw for 368 yards and three touchdowns in the 36-22 win over the Texans; however, they know that this time around, the Texans will look different on both sides of the ball with the return of key defensive players and rookie QB C.J. Stroud.

Yet, Flacco passed on simple message in that regard – prepare like it's a normal opponent. He noted that each game brings its own challenges, so they are using this week leading up to the game to immerse themselves in the Texans once again. The focus is on this one opponent in front of them.

"There's not this daunting task of getting ready to prepare for 20 games," Flacco said. "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."

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