Joe Flacco's Season Over With Knee Injury


Joe Flacco's season is over.

The Ravens franchise quarterback suffered a serious knee injury on the final drive of Sunday's 16-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams, tearing his anterior cructiate ligament (ACL) and also likely his medial collateral ligament (MCL).

The injury will end his season after 10 games, and force him to miss a game for the first time in his eight-year career.

"I'm probably still in shock a little bit," Flacco said after the game. "You play football and you play as long as I have and you play as hard as we do out there, then stuff like this happens. You have to just stand tall and be tough about it. That's all you can do. I think that's the way I am about everything in my life, and I'm not going to be any different this time."

Flacco suffered the injury on the first play of the game-winning drive that began with just 54 seconds left on the clock. He threw a slant route across the middle to wide receiver Chris Givens, and after he released the pass, Rams defensive end Matt Longacre shoved left tackle James Hurst to the ground and into Flacco's left leg.

Flacco quickly climbed to his feet in an attempt to shake off the injury, but he knew something wasn't right. He stayed in the game for three more plays to pick up another first down and then kill the clock for kicker Justin Tucker's game-winner.

"I wanted to win a game, and I didn't know what was wrong," Flacco said. "I tried to hop up as quickly as I could, and I was heading toward the sideline. The fact that I was able to hop up and head toward the sideline, I said, 'Oh OK, let's hang out there and see what I can do.' I don't know if that was the best thing, but it's just a reaction."

The fact that Flacco stayed in the game despite a torn ACL garnered praise from around the locker room and solidified his reputation as a hard-nosed player.

"I think it was a courageous performance," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

In the huddle, teammates said Flacco tried to avoid letting on how badly he was hurt.

"I've never seen such a warrior," said right tackle Rick Wagner. "He goes down and finishes the game strong and comes back to the huddle like nothing is wrong. I have so much respect for him."

"There wasn't much emotion," tight end Crockett Gillmore said. "He looked down at his knee, and then looked up, and we kind of made eye contact. I knew from being around him that there was something wrong. … He called the play and that was it. He's got my respect." 

Flacco actually downplayed the difficulty of staying in the game by saying, "It didn't seem that tough in the moment."

The injury to Flacco continued a brutal season-long trend for the Ravens of losing key players to injury. Baltimore had already lost outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., both to torn Achilles.

Running back Justin Forsett also suffered a gruesome broken forearm early in Sunday's matchup that ended his season as well.

That's not even counting the 13 others on injured reserve.

"I guess when it rains it pours," outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil said. "We've been dealing with it all year, with Suggs and Steve. It's tough. But nobody feels sorry for us, and we have to make sure we come out and prepare hard."

"At this point, you kind of expect it, you know?" added cornerback Jimmy Smith. "That's just the way things are going this year for us."

Flacco's injury puts the Ravens in unchartered territory. He's been one of the most reliable quarterbacks in the league, starting 137 straight games over his career. He can count on one hand the number of practices he's missed.

The Ravens will now turn to veteran Matt Schaub to take over the quarterback duties for the rest of the season. He's spent this entire season on the bench, but the 34-year-old signal caller does have plenty of experience as a starter.

"Matt Schaub can play quarterback, and he's going to come in and he's going to play very well," Harbaugh said. "We'll rally behind Matt."

The exact plan for Flacco moving forward is up in the air. He will have surgery to repair the knee, and determine the full extent of the injury, but that still needs to be scheduled. He'll then get on a long road to recovery, but doesn't know whether the injury will put him in jeopardy of missing any portion of the 2016 season.

"I have no idea at this point," Flacco said. "We just have to see what we can do and get back as quick as possible."

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