Baltimore Ravens playoff run bittersweet for Joe Flacco

Baltimore Ravens

Former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco will watch from the sidelines as rookie Lamar Jackson leads the Baltimore Ravens into their playoff game against the Chargers on Sunday.

Joe Flacco will find himself in an unfamiliar position Sunday when the Baltimore Ravens play the Los Angeles Chargers.

Instead of leading the Ravens into their AFC Wild Card matchup, Flacco will be on the sidelines as Lamar Jackson plays quarterback against the Chargers. It’s a situation the former Super Bowl MVP doesn’t like, but one he’s come to accept.

“It’s definitely not the most fun position in the world,” Flacco said earlier this week. “It just is what it is.”

Flacco began the year in his 11th season as the Ravens starting quarterback. After going just 4-5 in his nine starts, including losing three straight heading into Baltimore’s bye week, the rookie took over in Week 11. Since then the Ravens are 6-1, with their only loss coming in overtime in Kansas City, clinching the AFC North title in the final week of the season.

Jackson, the 32nd-overall pick in April’s draft, has completed 58.2 percent of his passes and thrown five touchdowns as the Ravens starter. The threat he poses with his legs, however, is what makes the Ravens offense more dynamic with him under center; Jackson has added 556 yards on the ground and four touchdowns.

The Ravens are averaging 25.1 points per game with Jackson at quarterback, compared to 23.6 when Flacco was the starter.

The 21-year-old Jackson, who turns 22 on Monday, will become the youngest quarterback to ever start a playoff game on Sunday. Flacco also led the Ravens to the playoffs in his rookie season, and advises his rookie replacement to approach it like it’s any other game.

“I just remember when I was going into it everybody kind of talked about how much different these games were. But the bottom line is they’re all football games,” he said. “Obviously there’s going to be a little bit different intensity to it, but at some point it settles in and becomes a football game.”

Sunday’s game at M&T Bank Stadium could prove to be the last time Flacco steps on that field in a Ravens uniform. Although he remains under contract until 2021 after signing an extension two years ago, the Ravens are clearly moving forward with Jackson at quarterback and will remove Flacco this offseason.

With his career as a Raven likely winding down, Flacco says he isn’t concerned about his future just yet. “I haven’t really thought too much about it,” he said.

The Ravens, with Jackson at quarterback, play the Chargers in Baltimore at 1 p.m. EST on Sunday. The winner will play the New England Patriots in the Divisional Round.

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