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Browns QB Joe Flacco 'super grateful' for opportunity after wild-card loss to Texans

Joe Flacco's run with Cleveland was one of the bright late-season storylines heading into Super Wild Card Weekend.

Unfortunately, the Browns couldn't keep up with the Houston Texans in Saturday's 45-14 loss, ending Flacco's endearing return to the playoffs.

"I was so fortunate to become a part of this team," Flacco said after the game, via the team transcript. "It's a special group. I know a lot of people can say that. But it really is. To be given a chance to do this with those guys, I'm super grateful for it. Listen, this is why we love football."

Flacco, who turns 39 on Tuesday, played an important role in getting Cleveland into the postseason, but his second-half struggles on Saturday, which included two pick sixes on consecutive drives, led to the Browns' early exit.

"Well, it's disappointing the way it ends," said Flacco, who finished 34-of-46 passing for 307 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions and an 80.6 passer rating. "I think when the city embraces you and the team the way they have, you definitely want to do big things, mostly for your teammates because those guys, like I said, have been incredible. … I can't thank the organization, my teammates, the city enough. It stinks the way it ends, but it was a lot of fun, and I'm grateful for the time that we had."

The former Ravens quarterback and Super Bowl XLVII MVP was not on an NFL roster at the start of the 2023 season. However, two months in, the Browns signed him to their practice squad after starting quarterback Deshaun Watson underwent season-ending shoulder surgery. Two weeks later, Flacco made his first start for the Browns, and the 17-year veteran never looked back, injecting Cleveland with offensive life and leading the Browns to a crucial Week 17 triumph over the Jets thanks to a three-TD performance. The win secured a playoff berth for the Browns after a two-year absence. 

Flacco finished the regular season going 4-1 as a starter. In those five games, he threw for 1,616 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Flacco's chapter under center in Cleveland was closed on Saturday by the Texans and rookie C.J. Stroud, who is one of the favorites to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, but the veteran hopes to keep his career going in 2024.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Dec. 17, that Flacco wants to play in 2024 and has no intentions of retiring.

Following Saturday's wild-card loss, he was asked if he would consider returning to the Browns next season, even if it meant being a backup to Watson.

"Listen, I love it here," he responded. "We're dealing with so much right now, just going through the emotions of this game and being so excited to be in this position, and now to come up empty. I think that's where my head is. It's just kind of trying to soak it all in and let this digest a little bit."

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