Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith broached the topic with Joe Flacco late last week, and he was surprised with the assuredness of the quarterback's response.
Flacco was adamant that he'd play, even if his wife, Dana, went into labor on the day of the game on the off chance that something like that would even happen. Smith believed him at the time, but he was still taken aback when he got out of his car Sunday morning at M&T Bank Stadium about four hours before the Ravens were scheduled to play the Cleveland Browns and Flacco delivered the news.
"He's like, 'Torrey, she's in labor.' I'm like, 'What? What are you going to do?," Smith said Wednesday. "He's like, 'I'm playing the game.' We didn't think it'd go that fast, but she wasn't playing any games. The second time around, she was ready to go. The funniest thing about it all, you know Joe, he definitely gets excited and shows emotion, but he was kind of like giddy, almost like a kid. He was sitting on the bench and his feet were swinging. He was like, 'I never really get like this.' But he was hyped up, and we were all excited for him when we found out he had another boy."
It's been a hectic couple of days for the Ravens' sixth-year quarterback who returned to practice Wednesday following the arrival of his second son. Daniel Flacco was born about an hour and a half before the start of the Ravens' eventual 14-6 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
In that game, Flacco shrugged off a scoreless first half to complete 22-of-33 passes for 211 yards for one touchdown and no interceptions.
"Obviously, all of us have these things in life where you have days that are landmark days. And for Joe, that was one of them," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. " I'm sure he'll remember it for the rest of his life and to be able to play the way he did, to get us the win and then to get back and bring his wife and newborn son home from the hospital the next day is pretty neat."
After taking a couple of days to be with his family in New Jersey, Flacco was back at the team facility Wednesday and during a 13-minute interview with reporters, he was in rare form, even taking a playful jab at his former teammate turned ESPN analyst, Ray Lewis, who will be inducted into the Ravens' Ring of Honor at halftime Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
"Oh, Ray will be back here? He's doing a game? Oh, Ring of Honor. Well, that was quick," Flacco joked. "Ray is already corporate, man. He's already giving the company line about whatever they want him to say. He's probably off the Raven bandwagon already — whatever. He'll be on it this week, of course."
Flacco clearly hadn't let a little sleep deprivation affect his sense of humor. He was even willing to recount the frantic couple of hours on Sunday, which started when his wife called him at 5:30 a.m. Sunday to tell him that she had gone into labor, and ended about six hours later when Daniel Flacco was born.
Dana's due date was actually this coming Sunday, but Flacco knew the second that his phone rang at the team hotel that "the game is on, man."
"We had talked about it, and if it came on Sunday, I was going to play the game," said Flacco, whose first son, Stephen, was born during a minicamp the previous offseason. "You obviously don't know how you're going to react, though, when you get that call. You get that call and your heart starts beating. It's always a game-changer when you get that call. What else is she calling for at 5:30 in the morning? So, before I even picked up the phone, I knew was going on. I kind of answered the phone and said, 'So, what's up?' She's like, 'Yeah, you know,' and I'm like, 'You've got to be kidding me.' I said to her, 'What are the odds of this happening?' And then I said, 'Well, I guess it's one-in seven.' Like I said, it was an interesting day, but a lot of fun."
While Flacco's teammates raved about his focus and his composure during the game, the quarterback admitted that he was neither before it. But his nerves were eased after he returned to the locker room following his pre-game warmup and had a chance to talk to his wife.
"I was definitely fortunate that my wife had the baby at 11:30 a.m., before the game had started," Flacco said. "I think if it was during the game, I would have been coming off every series like, 'Update me, update me, what happened?' So the fact that it did come before the game actually kicked off was a little bit settling to my mind. I was able to relax a little bit. I'm usually pretty reserved before the game, [but] I was walking around the locker room. I was just way more fidgety than I normally am."
Flacco said that he's been able to get a "little bit" of sleep but he was more concerned with his wife finding time to get some rest. Other than several days of growth on his face, it was pretty much business as usual for Flacco who has turned his attention to the Texans.
When he faced them last season, Flacco had one of the worst games of his career in a humbling 43-13 Ravens' loss, completing 21-of-43 passes for 147 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions and a 45.4 quarterback rating. The Texans return a similar defense, only now they have a healthy Brian Cushing and possibly safety Ed Reed, Flacco's long-time teammate in Baltimore.
Asked if Reed knows him better than any other quarterback in the NFL from all their days practicing together, Flacco said, "I don't know. I'm sure he'd tell you he probably does."
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