Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has never even had a mild concussion before, but he immediately knew something was wrong Thursday night after Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso's brutal hit.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since the collision, Flacco detailed his immediate and follow-up reaction.
"I remember getting hit, I remember standing up, looking down at my chin strap," Flacco said. "A little foggy about a couple of things after that, but once I got time to sit down and gather my thoughts about it, I felt pretty good."
Flacco was immediately taken off the field and into the locker room, where he was pronounced out for the rest of the game. But he said he "felt pretty normal pretty quickly."
Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday that Flacco had "zero" concussion symptoms, and the quarterback was back on the field Wednesday for practice.
"If this was high school, I probably would have sat on the bench, gathered myself for a couple minutes and went back out there and played defense," Flacco said.
"But it's just one of these things where you have to trust [the doctors'] judgement. … I remember thinking to myself when I got up and looked down, 'Alright, you're a little bit more messed up than normal. Do what they tell you to do and get off the field.' And I don't usually say that to myself."
Flacco wasn't sure what had happened exactly until he saw the replay on TV in the trainers' room.
"It definitely doesn't look good," he said. "It looked like my neck kind of got twisted and jacked up a little bit. But, yes, it probably looked a little worse than it felt. At the same time …"
Yeah, it still didn't feel good.
The remaining damage is to Flacco's ear, which has two stitches in it and some protective tape. Of course, Flacco said his ear is "whatever" and it's "not a big deal."
"I guess my helmet could get ripped off again and that might matter or something, but really, who cares?" he said. "It's just a little bit of blood."
There's been a lot of debate about Alonso's hit. It was immediately flagged as illegal, but Alonso wasn't ejected from the game and on Tuesday the league announced that he won't be suspended. A fine still could be coming later this week.
Flacco confirmed that he texted back and forth with Alonso, but said he has bigger things to worry about than the league's punishment – specifically Sunday's opponent, the Tennessee Titans.
"I've slid at point plenty of times and what happened, happened," Flacco said.
"This [hit], you can debate whether it was avoidable or not. A lot of times for those [defenders], it's not avoidable. You're going and hitting guys. It's football. That's why people love this sport … they get to watch people go to battle. That's what separates this sport for fans and players. At any point, our careers could be ended because of the brutality of this game. No matter what you do and what rules you put in place, people are always going to get hurt. We wear helmets for a reason."
So will the hit now make Flacco think twice about scrambling? The 6-foot-6, 245-pound quarterback who took three snaps after tearing his ACL in 2015 furrowed his brow when asked the question.
"No, I don't care," he said. "What are you going to do? Sometimes you get hit and sometimes you get knocked out, I guess. That's just part of the game."