Cleveland Browns: Joe Flacco Will Finish Season As Starter After Throwing Three Touchdowns
Joe Flacco is hot again, and his play has ignited the Browns.
After Flacco threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns in the Browns' 31-27 victory over the Jaguars Sunday, Head Coach Kevin Stefanski said Flacco will start the remainder of the season.
"Joe's been in big games," Stefanski said via Jake Trotter of ESPN.com. "I feel comfortable with him leading the football team."
Flacco had many clutch performances during his 11 seasons with the Ravens, and his most memorable run came in 2012 when he led Baltimore to its most recent Super Bowl victory. Now Flacco is adding another chapter to his legacy at age 38, after spending most of this season out of the NFL hoping his phone would ring.
"It was a little scary. ... It wasn't like I turned anybody down in the offseason," Flacco said. "Life puts you in certain situations and you don't know why, you just got to make the most of it."
When the Browns called last month, Flacco was ready. He played well last week in his first Clevland start, taking over for rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson who was in concussion protocol. But Flacco was even better against the Jaguars on Sunday, anticipating blitzes and hitting deep shots downfield. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Flacco became the first Browns quarterback since 1980 to throw three touchdown passes of 30 yards or more in a single game.
Flacco now has a 10-2 career record playing at Cleveland Browns Stadium. That's the second-most wins there in franchise history, only trailing Baker Mayfield.
While Flacco got out of Sunday's game healthy, the Browns have suffered another blow to their offensive line. Starting rookie right tackle Dawand Jones, who didn't play against the Jaguars, will require season-ending knee surgery, Stefanski announced Monday via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.
James Hudson III is expected to continue starting at right tackle in place of Jones.
Cincinnati Bengals: Winning Formula Continues With Jake Browning at QB
The Bengals won their second straight game with Jake Browning as their starting quarterback with a convincing 34-14 victory over the Colts.
Browning did more than his share, completing 18-of-24 passes for 285 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Since Joe Burrow's season-ending wrist injury, the Bengals have become more balanced offensively and Browning has benefitted. Running backs Joe Mixon and Chase Brown combined for 104 yards on 20 carries, and Bengals left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. said the ground attack has taken some of the pressure off Browning.
"I use the (phrase), 'make them play us honest,'" Brown said via Ben Baby of ESPN.com. "When … we're able to be physical at the line of scrimmage in the run game and take them out of certain coverages, you can't cover our playmakers one-on-one."
Browning completed passes to nine different teammates and wide receivers Tee Higgins (two catches, 72 yards) and Ja'Marr Chase (three catches, 29 yards) didn't have to carry the load in the passing attack. The Bengals (7-6) are still in the playoff picture heading into Week 15 when they host the Vikings on Saturday.
"I feel very comfortable with how everything is going – (Head Coach Zac Taylor) calling the game, feeling like we're staying a step ahead as far as run-pass, having everything kind of look the same, mixing in some screens," Browning said. "It makes my job easy."
Pittsburgh Steelers: Minkah Fitzpatrick Said Steelers Need An Attitude Adjustment
The Steelers (7-6) have already spent a few days thinking about their 21-18 loss to the Patriots on "Thursday Night Football." Pittsburgh has suffered home losses to Arizona and New England in consecutive weeks – teams that were 2-10 before beating the Steelers.
That doesn't sit well with star safety Minkah Fitpatrick, who thinks his team needs to change its attitude.
"In order to see the fruit, you've gotta toil for it," Fitzpatrick said via Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com. "I think too many people don't want to toil for it. They just want to walk out here and think that they're going to make plays and think that they're going to perform at a high level. I think we need to have more people who want to work for it, not expect it to be handed to them.
"This is the NFL. Nothing's handed to you. Dudes just think that because they're wearing the black and gold that they're going to win games, and I think we need to check that mentality."
The Steelers have already changed offensive coordinators midseason, and the change at quarterback from injured Kenny Pickett (ankle) to Mitch Trubisky hasn't jumpstarted the offense. Meanwhile, the defense hasn't played up to par either in the Steelers' two most recent defeats.
Asked if he felt Pittsburgh's mentality would change, Fitzpatrick said he wasn't sure. But he had some suggestions for teammates as the Steelers prepare to visit the Colts on Saturday.
"Look in the mirror, evaluate their work week, evaluate their character, evaluate their love for the game, evaluate why they play the game," Fitzpatrick said. "If you're doing it for the wrong reasons or if you're doing it just because you like it and you don't love it and you don't love the ugly part of it, then you need to evaluate what you're doing."