CLEVELAND -- Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco passed for a season-high 288 yards, delivered one of his best touchdown throws of the season and ran for his first score of the season in a 27-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
This didn't go unnoticed by the players in the locker room, who have grown accustomed to Flacco playing his best around playoff time.
"We know how 'Joe Cool' can play when he gets hot," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "He's just got to get hot. He can't be so 'Joe Cool.' He played really well [Sunday]. If he comes out and plays really well against Indy, then we've got something."
Flacco has been warming up the past few weeks. In the past three games, he has thrown for the seventh-most passing yards (826) in the NFL in that span, producing five touchdowns and one interception.
Flacco's performance was more impressive considering that the running game sputtered (3.1-yard average) and the passing game was without Jeremy Maclin, who missed most of the game with a knee injury. Still, Flacco passed for the seventh-most yards among QBs in Week 15, ran in a 2-yard touchdown off a quarterback draw and hit tight end Benjamin Watson in stride for a 33-yard score.
"We've definitely been better in the past few weeks," Flacco said. "We've been working hard at it, and we're starting to put some stuff together and do some good things. In a way, it felt good to leave some stuff out there [Sunday]. It felt like we could have put more up -- more yards, more points."
Flacco has made a habit of elevating his game when it counts. Since 2011, he has thrown 21 touchdowns and three interceptions in the playoffs, for a 107.5 passer rating (second only to Matt Ryan among quarterbacks with at least three playoff games).
His numbers haven't come close to reaching that level yet, though there are signs pointing in the right direction. After the Browns jumped to a 7-3 lead in the second quarter, Flacco completed five of seven passes for 62 yards and capped the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run up the middle on which he went untouched.
For an offense that has struggled to reach the end zone, the Ravens are starting to hit their stride these days. Baltimore has averaged 31.7 points the past three games, which ranks second only to the Jacksonville Jaguars (35 per game).
"That's the growth of our team that we didn't have earlier on in the season," safety Eric Weddle said. "Our offense can battle back for us and give us some life. It's fun to see where they are right now. Being able to count on them is great for the end of the season and moving toward the playoffs."