Ravens fans weren't the only ones scared when quarterback Joe Flacco hopped on one leg to the locker room during Sunday's 21-14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
So was his head coach, who Flacco went by without offering any reassuring words. So were his teammates, including linebacker Terrell Suggs, who yelled at him after the game to never do that again.
The only one who really knew Flacco wasn't injured was the quarterback himself, but he was in too big a hurry to get back on the field that he didn't let anyone know.
"I'm sorry to put everybody through that," Flacco said afterwards. "My brace caught. It totally bent. It almost bent in half. It's a metal brace, and it got caught pretty good."
Flacco's knee brace dug into the turf as he slid for a first down at the end of a 14-yard scramble early in the third quarter. He immediately grabbed for the back of his left knee, the one he had ACL and MCL surgery on last year.
"I knew it wasn't serious because I saw when it happened, but I was still scared," wide receiver Mike Wallace said. "I'm like, man, that's one of the ugliest slides I've ever seen."
From Flacco's perspective, everything was fine, but weird.
"I knew there was nothing wrong with my knee," Flacco said. "I went down, and it surprised me obviously when all of a sudden I wasn't sliding like normal. I looked down and my brace was totally opened up. It looked like there was something sticking out of the side of my leg."
Flacco took a few steps before hopping, which was a good immediate sign. Then again, when he tore up his knee last year, he stayed in the game for a few plays to finish off a win.
As he went off the field, Head Coach John Harbaugh asked Flacco how his knee was. He didn't get much of a response, which struck more fear in his heart.
"I saw the brace mangled beyond recognition," Harbaugh said. "I was just hoping the knee underneath it was fine."
Since the brace was bent, it was putting a lot of pressure on Flacco's knee. It was also stuck in the bent position, so he couldn't move – hence the hopping. He needed a replacement – immediately.
The trainers already had a new brace waiting for him when he got to the locker room. Flacco only missed three plays, and when he jogged back onto the field, he got a big ovation.
Not everybody watching from home was applauding, however. Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph offered up a free sliding lesson on Twitter.
A former baseball player, Flacco takes a lot of pride in his usually pretty pop-up slide. So he likely won't be taking Joseph up on the offer.