Joe Flacco Dec 28, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Joe Flacco (15) throws a pass against the New York Jets during the first half at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Many NFL fans and observers thought Joe Flacco would come back to Earth Thursday night.

They could not have been more wrong.

Flacco threw for 309 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Cleveland Browns to a 37-20 win over the New York Jets, clinching a playoff spot in the process.

Flacco has been one of the best stories in the league this season. The 38-year-old veteran had been out of the NFL when the Browns signed him to their practice squad in late November. Thrust into a starting role in Week 12, Flacco led the Browns to three wins in his first four starts, averaging 327 passing yards a game.

But those performances had come against some suspect defenses. The Jets stout pass defense was supposed to provide a stiff test for Flacco, and show his weaknesses.

Instead, the former Super Bowl MVP quarterback aced that test, lighting up the Jets secondary, and playing like someone who had not just returned to action a few weeks ago.

Fans at Cleveland Browns Stadium chanted Flacco’s name early and often.

“He’s come a long way from driving the kids around just six weeks ago,” Thursday Night Football analyst Kirk Herbstreit said late in the game.

A playoff spot for the Browns appeared in serious doubt earlier in the season when the team was losing quarterbacks to injury every few weeks.

Now, with the Browns’ shutdown defense, and Flacco appearing in vintage shape, long-suffering Cleveland fans have Super Bowl thoughts on their mind.

About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.