Joe Flacco leads the Cleveland Browns to an improbable playoff berth by defeating the New York Jets.

Joe Flacco has transformed a seemingly jinxed season into a fortunate one. Despite numerous injuries throughout the season, Flacco, Cleveland’s quarterback for just over a month, threw for 309 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Browns to a 37-20 victory over the New York Jets on Thursday night and securing an unexpected playoff spot – only their second since 2002.
The Browns, with a record of 11-5, are now guaranteed a wildcard berth and still have a chance to win the AFC North division, and possibly even claim the conference’s top seed, which seemed unimaginable just a few weeks ago due to the team’s multitude of injuries. However, everything has changed since Flacco joined the team.
At 38 years old, Flacco has improved the Browns’ record to 4-1 as a starter since being signed off his couch in New Jersey last month. He has not only rescued their season but exceeded expectations. In fact, in the final minutes of the game, Browns fans chanted “Flac-co! Flac-co!” – a stark contrast to how they once felt about him during his tenure with the Baltimore Ravens.
Reflecting on the victory, Flacco said, “You don’t know how many of these moments you’re going to get. I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life.”
Flacco’s exceptional performance included two touchdown passes to Jerome Ford in the first half, helping the Browns establish a commanding 20-point lead over the Jets (6-10). The Jets had chosen not to re-sign Flacco, a 15-year veteran, after he spent three seasons with them. This decision came after Aaron Rodgers sustained a left Achilles tendon injury in Week 1.
Flacco had an outstanding first half, amassing 296 yards against the Jets’ defense, making him the first quarterback in 34 games to exceed 300 yards against them. He also became the first Cleveland quarterback to achieve this feat in four consecutive games.
While Flacco denied seeking revenge, Jets receiver Garrett Wilson claimed that the QB was determined to prove himself. Wilson said, “He’s wired like that. He told me at the end of last season that he wasn’t going to be a backup. He was going to play, and he stuck to his word. Joe is a great guy and the type of teammate you want. He deserves everything he’s getting.”
The atmosphere at Cleveland Browns Stadium was electrifying from the beginning, as fans who have experienced years of heartbreak finally had an opportunity to celebrate. Flacco described it as a “special” experience, admitting that this was a unique situation for him with a whirlwind of emotions running through his mind.
The Jets were forced to start Trevor Siemian for the second consecutive week due to Zach Wilson’s concussion. Siemian had some commendable moments, but a late overthrow in the first quarter resulted in a 30-yard pick-six by safety Ronnie Hickman, extending the Browns’ lead to 20-7.
New York’s defense allowed their highest number of points and yards in a single game this season (428). Although the Jets limited the Browns to just 61 yards in the second half, they had already dug themselves into too deep of a hole.
In the second quarter, Jets linebacker Jermaine Johnson intercepted Flacco’s pass for a 37-yard pick-six, showcasing his exceptional skill in deflecting the pass to himself.
This season has not been smooth sailing for the Browns, who have faced numerous challenges, including an abundance of injuries since the beginning of the season. Flacco is their fourth starting quarterback, and they are without both first-team offensive tackles. Additionally, 12 players, including QB Deshaun Watson and running back Nick Chubb, are on injured reserve.
With that said, it was only fitting that in their most critical game of the season, the Browns were missing their starting kicker, punter, and wide receiver Amari Cooper, who had set a franchise record of 265 receiving yards just days earlier in Houston.

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