Joe Flacco met the media before practice Wednesday with the look of a man about to have his prostate examined.
The basic problem is that the media is always trying to get Flacco to talk about his feelings.
If Flacco was one of those Chilean miners they rescued Tuesday, he'd pop out of that steel tube after three months underground and say: "I don't know … it could've been worse."
So there he was Wednesday, Joe Cool, surrounded by a small army of reporters who wanted to know how he felt about the big game this Sunday, the 4-1 Ravens against the 3-1 New England Patriots up in Foxborough.
And wouldn't you know it? The very first question had the f-word in it.
"Do you feel like you have to elevate your game when you face someone like Tom Brady?" someone asked.
"I'm not facing Tom," Flacco said quickly. "That's our defense. I'm going up against the Patriots' defense. I think we approach every week the same. We don't feel we have to play better one week over another."
The second question also had a touchy-feely component to it.
With 7,7000 career passing yards in 37 games, a reporter pointed out, Flacco needs only 147 yards to pass the immortal Kyle Boller as the Ravens' all-time passing yards leader.
"What does it mean to you to be on the [verge] of that milestone?" was the question.
Flacco permitted himself a soft smile. But it was gone in an instant.
"I don't know … not too much," he said. "Hopefully, I can have a lot more passing yards than two-and-a-half years worth. I plan on being here for a while."
This, of course, is excellent news as far as the Ravens and their fans are concerned.
Because what we're finding out about Flacco in his third season in the NFL is this: He may be about the worst interview in history when it comes to sharing his emotions. But his stoic, laid-back demeanor is absolutely perfect for a team that finds itself in a stretch of big, pressure-filled games this early in the season.
Now they face the rejuvenated Patriots at Gillette Stadium, which will be a cauldron of noise and a sea of the usual hostile, jeering drunks that populate every NFL crowd.
The Pats' offense is ranked No. 1 in the league in scoring, averaging 32.8 points per game. And their defense has racked up seven interceptions by five different players, with two of those picks returned for touchdowns.
Tough game for the Ravens Sunday?
Oh, no question. And if ever there was a situation that cried out for a quarterback to keep his cool, this is it.
Which is why the Ravens have no worries in that department.
Sure, Flacco gets criticized by some fans for being too unemotional at times. And if you're a reporter, there are times during an interview when he's so subdued you want to stick a mirror under his nose to see if he's still breathing.
But in a big game, what you need is a quarterback who doesn't fall apart whenever something goes wrong. And Flacco has been that kind of quarterback so far.
"I'm impressed with his intelligence, his talent, his toughness and his poise or his peace of mind or whatever that is," coach John Harbaugh said. "Calm's not a good word for it, because everybody uses that. He doesn't get emotionally hijacked by things. He keeps his emotions in check."
Well, whatever he's doing with his emotions, it's working.
Get this stat: In the Ravens' last 22 regular-season wins dating back to 2008, Flacco has thrown 29 touchdown passes and only five interceptions for a 101.1 quarterback rating. He's completed 385 of 604 passes (.637 percent).
"He does the things the team needs him to do to win," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick in his conference call with the Baltimore media. "And that's really how quarterbacks should be measured. Does he help the team win?"
So far, the answer is yes. And he gets another chance this weekend in New England. It's a big game for Joe Flacco. Big game for the Ravens.
Just don't ask how he feels about it.
(Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Jerry Coleman on Fox 1370 AM Sports).
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