Quarterback Joe Flacco’s second straight strong showing for the Cleveland Browns is all that coach Kevin Stefanski needed to see before declaring Flacco the starter for the remainder of the season.
The 38-year-old Flacco, who has played only a handful of games per season since 2020 and hasn’t played a full season since 2017, threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday as the Browns edged the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-27.
On Dec. 3, Flacco completed 23 of 44 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns. He has been intercepted once each week.
Flacco took over when Watson’s backup, rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson, was sidelined by concussion symptoms Nov. 26 against the Denver Broncos.
Now in his 16th season, Flacco, the MVP of the Super Bowl for the Baltimore Ravens following the 2012 season, went unsigned until the Browns came calling when Deshaun Watson was lost for the season with a shoulder injury.
“Joe’s been in big games. So (I) feel comfortable with him leading the football team,” Stefanski said in announcing his decision.
Including Sunday’s game, Flacco is 20th on the NFL’s all-time passing yards list with 42,574.
Cleveland (8-5) is in the thick of the AFC wild-card race after making the postseason just once since 2002.
After 11 seasons with the Ravens, Flacco played in eight games in 2019 for the Broncos and in 12 games over the last three years for the New York Jets. In 184 games (181 starts), Flacco has 234 touchdown passes and 148 interceptions while completing 61.5 percent of his passes.