Notebook: Flacco displays his toughness

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco's statistics were nearly as ugly as the bruise decorating his hip. The Ravens managed to win handily anyway.

Despite a painful right hip contusion that's also affecting his quadriceps and hobbling his mobility, Flacco gutted it out to help lead his team to a 33-14 AFC wild-card victory Sunday over the New England Patriots on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Flacco's throwing motion was awkward as he completed just 4 of 10 passes for 34 yards, no touchdowns and one interception, but he displayed his grit in scrambling for a key first down and connecting with wide receiver Mark Clayton for another first down.

"We've got a tough quarterback," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said.

With Ray Rice rushing for 159 yards, including an 83-yard touchdown to start the game, Flacco managed the game well even though it was clear that he was in pain.

Despite the discomfort, Flacco and the Ravens are heading to the AFC divisional round where they'll take on the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night. "It's my quadriceps," Flacco said. "I don't know if it's just the fluid running down and doing that to me or what, but as the week went on it started to feel a little bit better.

"I have to make sure that I take the next couple of days to give it a little rest and then get ready for Indianapolis. I feel like I'll be feeling great and moving 100 percent when we get there next week."

Although it's hard to fathom that Flacco could heal that quickly as he deals with another problem in an injury-plagued season where he has also had a sprained ankle and a sore shoulder, the second-year quarterback's teammates are confident in him after watching him play with a lot of heart against New England.

Flacco's top play was a scramble around left end for seven yards on third-and-seven down to the Patriots' six-yard line.

Flacco extended the football across the first-down marker with officials eventually awarding him the first down following the Ravens calling for an instant-replay challenge.

"Joe did what he had to do," center Matt Birk said. "Sometimes, big plays aren't scoring plays and touchdowns. That scramble where he reached the ball out, that was huge for us.

"Joe did a great job of managing the game and kept us in good situations. He did what he had to do to win the game."

Flacco's dash to the left set up running back Willis McGahee's three-yard touchdown run for the final margin of victory.

Flacco acknowledged that adrenaline played a factor on his run as he seemingly forgot about his injury for a moment.

"When you're out there playing, you don't think about that kind of thing," he said. "So, you don't really feel too much. I looked over there after they spotted the ball and Cam is yelling at me to dive.

"I thought I had the first down guaranteed even when they went back and spotted it at the six. We got the first down and that was the important thing and we extended the drive a little bit. That was big for us."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh was complimentary of Flacco.

"I think Joe did what he had to do to win the game," Harbaugh said. "Joe, like Tom and all these guys this time of year, I think they're all beat up a little bit. Joe is very tough, very physically and mentally tough.

"He operated the game well. He understood the situation of the game. He had a huge completion to Clayton down there. That was gigantic, so he made the plays when he had to."

INJURY UPDATE: Tight end Todd Heap suffered a back stinger during the final minutes of the Ravens' win.

However, expects to play Saturday against the Colts.

"I'm hurting pretty good right now, but I think I'll be all right," Heap said.

Heap was in visible pain after the game in the locker room.

"It was pretty sore," he said. "We'll see how it feels. I played through worse last year."

Heap dealt with a painful back injury during the playoffs last season.

This time, the Ravens are hopeful that he'll be fine.

"I don't think it's real serious, but we'll have to see," Harbaugh said.

Free safety Ed Reed played without incident in his second game since returning from a groin tear. He intercepted one pass.

Reed admitted that he wasn't sure if he was going to be healthy enough to play this well, this soon. "I wasn't sure, honestly," he said. "I just tried to do everything with the trainers and my doctors, as much as I could to be back for this moment. I am still not 100 percent, but I feel good and still have some treatment to get done."

Reed intercepted a pass deflected by cornerback Domonique Foxworth in the first quarter to set up a field goal.

"I saw Domonique made a great read and tipped the ball up," Reed said. "It's all about finishing in this game, and that's what it was, just finishing on the play and hoping it would stay up there a little longer.

"Honestly, I was hoping we would tip it because that is the only way I would pick Brady off and he knew it. I am sure he is shooting himself in the foot."

SHUTTING DOWN MOSS: The Ravens nullified Patriots star wide receiver Randy Moss' usually impactful presence.

He caught five passes for 48 yards, and he seemed to be sulking and loafing at times once the game got out of hand.

Foxworth had nine tackles while paired opposite Moss the majority of the time.

"I thought our guys did a great job of covering," Harbaugh said. "You've got Domonique Foxworth out there on Moss most of the game and did a great job on one of the best receivers in the history of the game."

Added defensive coordinator Greg Mattison: "I think on the back end our guys just played the technique and played the coverage. They've been playing what's called and doing a great job of it."

NO CHALLENGE: During the second quarter, the Ravens muffed a punt as punt returner Chris Carr was unable to get in position to catch a Chris Hanson punt that ricocheted off Tom Zbikowski.

Patriots defensive back Kyle Arrington recovered the football, but never seemed to have control of it while falling out of bounds.

Strangely, the Ravens didn't call for an instant-replay review despite television and video board replays showing that Arrington didn't have control.

Harbaugh said that the Ravens didn't get a good view of what happened.

"We didn't have anything on that," he said. "If we had something, we definitely would have challenged it. But we didn't have enough."

Referee Gene Steratore told a pool reporter that he didn't know if the player had possession or not since it wasn't reviewed.

"Depending on what replay might show, I really can't elaborate a lot on because I didn't see it to tell you exactly what had occurred personally on it," Steratore said. "There is an element of a process of a catch or a process of a recovery. Without seeing it, I wouldn't be able to elaborate for you unfortunately."

QUICK HITS: The Ravens deactivated rookie second-round pick Paul Kruger, who had played in the final eight games of the regular season. Besides Kruger, the Ravens also scratched wide receiver Justin Harper, cornerback Marcus Paschal, safety Keith Fitzhugh, offensive linemen David Hale and Tony Moll, nose guard Kelly Talavou and third quarterback John Beck. .. The Patriots deactivated wide receiver Isaiah Stanback, cornerback Terrence Wheatley, running back Benjarvus Green-Ellis, linebacker Thomas Williams, offensive linemen Rich Ohrnberger, Dan Connolly and Mark LeVoir and nose guard Ron Brace. … The Ravens sacked Brady three times despite using a four-man rush primarily. "We got him a little bit, I think the main focus was getting him off his spot," said outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who sacked and stripped Brady and recovered the fumble. "We didn't want him comfortable. We wanted him to think we were blitzing when we weren't and weren't blitzing when we were. We just didn't want him to get comfortable because he is one of the greatest in the game. We wanted to frenzy him a little bit. Our secondary was on point. They played phenomenal." … Suggs, who has dealt with knee and thigh injuries this season, seemed much quicker off the snap of the ball this time. "This is a playoff game and you always have to turn your game up," he said. … Carr had a 34-yard punt return. "It was well-blocked," he said. "I was kind of disappointed. If I was really fresh, I could have scored on that." … Harbaugh ran around the field to high-five several Ravens fans. "I was surprised there were that many Ravens fan," Harbaugh said. "There were thousands of Ravens fans all along the end zone and over top of the tunnel. It just overwhelms you when you see that. You see that sea of purple and the looks on their faces. You just had to go and be a part of it." … The Ravens were disciplined, committing just three penalties for 15 yards. During the Ravens' loss to New England earlier this season, they were flagged nine times for 85 yards. The Ravens led the NFL in penalty yards this season.


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