OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco will wear a brace on his left knee Sunday against the New England Patriots, a precautionary move in the wake of the injury he sustained Monday night in Detroit.
Before Justin Tucker sent his 61-yard kick sailing toward the uprights in an 18-16 win, the Ravens collectively held their breath when Flacco’s knee buckled upon being struck by the helmet of oncoming Lions lineman DeAndre Levy.
‘‘I winced when I saw it on the board up there,’’ coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday. ‘‘I winced when I saw it on tape again this morning. It was a pretty tough hit.’’
Flacco wore a brace during practice and acknowledged that his knee felt ‘‘stiff.’’ But he doesn’t expect it to be a hindrance Sunday, when the Ravens (8-6) seek their fifth straight victory.
He will use the brace to prevent any further damage.
‘‘I don’t know if it will be a necessity or not, but I'm going to wear it,’’ he said. ‘‘There’s no reason not to.’’
Flacco has never missed a start in his six-year NFL career. His streak is at 107 games, and that’s the first thing that ran through his mind after he toppled over on his side following the hit by Levy.
‘‘You’re like, ‘Shoot, I better not be able to not be able to play,'’’ he recalled. ‘‘Hey listen, at some point it may happen that I can’t go out there to start a football game. But I'd prefer that I hold that off a while.’’
After he hit the turf in Detroit, Flacco had no idea how serious the injury was. He wanted to stay on the ground and ease himself back up to his feet, but teammate Ray Rice was there — like it or not — to offer assistance.
‘‘Rice came over and wanted me to get up but he didn’t really help me,’’ Flacco said. ‘‘I wasn’t really ready to get up yet because I didn’t want to get up and test it out and have myself collapse to the ground and look like an idiot. It’s always scary when you get your knee (hit). I've never really had a severe knee injury or anything so you don’t know what is what. If you feel something you definitely get a little scared.’’
After he climbed to his feet, Flacco knew he would be OK.
‘‘Once I got up and put a little pressure on it, I was able to run off the field and all that,’’ he said. ‘‘You've got to feel pretty good about that. My mind was at ease as soon as I got up, so that wasn’t really an issue.’’
As the Ravens medical staff treated Flacco on the bench, backup Tyrod Taylor started throwing passes on the sideline in case he had to go in. Flacco, however, would have none of it.
When it came time for Baltimore to return to the field, Flacco was there with the offense. And he drove the Ravens far enough to get Tucker in position for the game-winning kick.
It was Flacco’s 19th career game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. Given that the Ravens have played nine games this season decided by three points or fewer, he just might be called upon for an encore against the Patriots (10-4) on Sunday.
Although he survived the hit to the knee — which came after he passed the ball — Flacco wondered why a penalty wasn’t called.
‘‘Yeah, I was (ticked) we didn’t get 15 yards,’’ he said. ‘‘It could've helped us.’’
Harbaugh said the team has submitted the tape to the league office for review.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org