Athletes leave their teams all the time to be with their wives for the birth of a child. It would've been understandable if Joe Flacco got in his car to speed off to New Jersey when his wife, Dana, went into labor Sunday morning.
However, there was no question in Flacco's mind how he would handle the situation. He was playing.
"We had talked about it, and if it came on Sunday, I was going to play the game," Flacco said. "You obviously don't know how you're going react, though, when you get that call. You get that call and your heart starts beating. The game is on, man. It's crazy.
"It's always a game-changer when you get that call. What else is she calling for at 5:30 in the morning? So before I even picked up the phone, I knew what was going on. I kind of answered the phone and said, 'So, what's up?' She's like, 'Yeah, you know,' and I'm like, 'You've got to be kidding me.' I said to her, 'What are the odds of this happening?' And then I looked at her and I said, 'Well, I guess it's one-in-seven. It's not really that bad.' Like I said, it was an interesting day, but a lot of fun."
Flacco led the Ravens to a come-from-behind 14-6 win over the Browns just hours after his wife gave birth to the couple's second child, Daniel.
Getting the call early Sunday morning wasn't ideal, but Flacco enjoyed the day as a whole.
"I don't know if it's ever your worst nightmare. It was a pretty cool day, pretty special day," he said. "I got a call at 5:30 in the morning from (Dana), and I couldn't believe it. I was in total disbelief. But it's the way it went, and I wouldn't have it any other way. It was a really, really special day, obviously, and it's just the way it worked out.
"I don't know if it was really ever in the back of my mind. I was definitely fortunate that my wife had the baby at 11:30 a.m. before the game had started. I think if it was during the game, I would have been coming off every series like, 'Update me. Update me. What happened?' So the fact that it did come before the game actually kicked off was a little bit settling to my mind. I was able to relax a little bit because all morning ... I'm usually pretty reserved before the game, and I was walking around the locker room. I was just way more fidgety than I normally am, so it was definitely soothing to know that she had the baby and everything went OK. Having said that, I thought about it during the game, but it was a lot easier to deal with."
Flacco left from M&T Bank Stadium to head back to New Jersey as soon as he could, and he certainly didn't mind that drive home coming off a win.
"It helps that we won, but it probably wouldn't have been that bad of a loss knowing that I was going to be able to go back to that," he said. "I still couldn't believe it really. I just wanted to get back there and see if she was doing OK, see if he was doing alright, and everything was good."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh was impressed to see the way Flacco handled the whole situation.
"Obviously, all of us have these things in life where you have days that are landmark days in our lives, right? And for Joe, that was one of them," Harbaugh said. "I'm sure he'll remember it for the rest of his life. And to be able to play the way he did, and especially, the way he did in the second half with the third-down conversions, that kind of thing, to get us the win and then to get back and bring his wife and newborn son home from the hospital, the next day is pretty neat."
NOTE: Tailback Ray Rice has yet to practice this week, sitting out both Wednesday and Thursday because of the left hip injury he suffered during Sunday's game.
Earlier this week, Harbaugh called the injury day to day, and not a long-term concern. But whether Rice will be able to play against the Texans this Sunday remains up in the air.
On Wednesday, Flacco addressed the potential challenge of playing without Rice.
"The biggest thing is that we don't have a lot of running backs right now," Flacco said. "We don't have a lot of experience at that position. Obviously, Ray runs the ball well, but we'll have guys who run the ball well. The biggest thing missing when you lose a guy like that is he's a veteran running back. He can I.D. fronts, he knows who he's picking up in blitz in the protection, and you can feel confident with him doing that, and he feels confident in doing that. So I think that's the biggest thing you miss. Obviously, we all know that we're going to miss his ability out there. But we seem to be dealing with a little bit of injuries this year, and it's just going to be something we have to adapt to and win some games while we have guys filling in at positions."