Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco sloughed off — at least publicly — teammate Ed Reed’s assertion that he was “rattled” Sunday in the divisional-round victory over the Houston Texans.
"I talked to Ed about it," Flacco said during a news conference Wednesday. "It’s not really that big of a deal. I don’t take things that bad. It’s Ed. It’s not a big deal."
Flacco has faced criticism from outside the locker room for some time, despite the fact he’s the first QB since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to take his team to the postseason in each of his first four seasons in the league. On Monday, the critique came from a safety who is but a dozen or so lockers away at the team’s training facility.
“Joe was kind of rattled a little bit by that defense,” Reed told FOXSports.com’s Adam Schein on SiriusXM Radio. “They had a lot of guys in the box on him, and they were giving it to him. I think a couple of times he needed to get rid of the ball. It just didn’t look like he had a hold on the offense.”
Reed didn’t talk to reporters in the locker room Wednesday during the media availability.
Other players rallied around Flacco, including the team’s longtime captain.
“He’s a flat-out winner,” linebacker Ray Lewis said. “You’re talking about a guy who has been to the playoffs all four years with this team. It ain’t all about the quarterback.”
If Flacco were distressed, wide receiver Torrey Smith said he didn’t see any evidence of it.
“He did a great job out there executing,” Smith said. “It’s on us to go out there and make plays for him. He did a great job managing the game. He didn’t throw any picks and threw a couple touchdowns. So, I don’t know what more you could ask for. If we would have hit on a couple more plays, everybody would be talking about that (positive) impact he had.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he was “sure Ed wishes things had come out a little bit better."
It hasn’t been all about the quarterback, basically, since the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore and began play as the Ravens in 1996. The team’s cornerstone remains defense, which has been able to make up for Flacco’s oft-shaky play.
Flacco was 14 for 27 with 176 yards passing, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the 20-13 victory over Houston. He was sacked five times, losses some feel Flacco could have avoided he found a receiver more quickly or threw the ball out of bounds.
The Ravens also gained only nine yards when they needed 10 (and a first down) to all but ice the game. They ran the ball three consecutive times, and the Texans took over near midfield after a punt with a chance to at least tie the game.
His passer rating during the regular season (80.9) was by far the worst among the four quarterbacks — Flacco, New England’s Tom Brady, New York Giants’ Eli Manning and San Francisco Alex Smith — who will play in the conference championships this Sunday.
"I wish those guys didn’t have to come to my defense," Flacco said of his teammates.
Two more victories in the playoffs — starting Sunday against Brady and the Patriots — would equate to the Ravens’ second title, something Flacco admitted may not change how he’s viewed.
“I’ll be wearing a ring, and the perception still probably won’t change," Flacco said.
Scout.com’s Aaron Wilson contributed to this report.