Flacco's toughness can't be questioned

You can criticize Joe Flacco for his increased interceptions. You can rip him for his inconsistency.

What can never be questioned is the toughness of the Baltimore Ravens quarterback. That's why there is little doubt he'll do everything possible to play Sunday against the New England Patriots.

Flacco took a helmet to his left knee in the middle of the fourth quarter of Monday night's 18-16 win at the Detroit Lions and didn't miss a snap. The Ravens do not believe the injury is serious enough to merit an MRI, sources told ESPN's Ed Werder. But the injury may cause the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player to wear a brace against the Patriots, Flacco told WBAL radio in Baltimore.

I expect Flacco to be limited in practice this week and possibly be listed as questionable on Friday's injury report. But are there really any doubts he'll play? Flacco has never missed a start in his six-year NFL career. His 94 straight starts are the third-longest current streak in the NFL, trailing only Eli Manning (148) and Philip Rivers (125).

Flacco doesn't even like to miss a play in a game, much less a start. Remember how upset Flacco got when he wasn't lined up behind center for a handful of plays in the Ravens' Wildcat offense.

It's been a tough year for Flacco, who has been sacked 42 times this season, third-most in the NFL. But Flacco has dealt with pain before in his career.

It was three years ago that Flacco had a contusion so bad on his thigh that he had to stand during flights for road games. He never wanted to talk about it because there was no chance of him missing a playoff game.

Flacco dismissed Monday night's injury the same way.

"It feels fine," Flacco said after the game despite walking into the post-game interview room with a slight limp. "It feels strong."

Flacco even joked he was slow to get up after the hit because he was trying to draw a penalty, which should've happened anyway.

There are other quarterbacks in the division who like the drama around playing hurt. Flacco simply doesn't think it's an issue.

"Joe Flacco is one tough guy," coach John Harbaugh said.

This really doesn't need to be said, but sometimes it takes instances like Monday night to remind everyone of that fact.