“He’s walking off the field, got blood coming from his ear,” Ravens running back Alex Collins said in recalling the shot on Flacco. “We’re very passionate about our team and protecting the quarterback. So just seeing him go down like that, I could just see in everybody’s eyes that we wanted to finish this game strong for him.”
Revenge for the Ravens began seconds after Alonso delivered the blow to Flacco. Before Alonso could get off the ground, Baltimore center Ryan Jensen ran over, lunged forward and gave a two-handed shove to the linebacker. With Alonso on his back, Jensen pounced again and a right hand to the helmet forced off Alonso’ helmet.
“I felt it was a dirty hit,” said Jensen, who is known as the team’s biggest fighter. “He’s our franchise [and] he’s our franchise quarterback. Him getting cheap-shotted like that, I fell like I had to do something to protect him and show him that we got his back.”
Three plays later, the Ravens targeted Alonso once again. This time, it was in the end zone.
“If you mess with one of us, you got to mess with all of us. We went out there and gave everything we had for Joe, the team, the coaches and Baltimore,” Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams said. “We had to let everybody know that you can’t just mess with one of us and expect not to get hit 53 more times.”
Asked how many lines Alonso crossed, Williams said, “So many lines. Every line on the dang field. We just rallied and did it for Joe.”
Ravens Pro Bowl linebacker C.J. Mosley said the players gained more intensity by the way the team lost Flacco. He made sure to throw an extra elbow out on the field and brought down ball-carriers harder than usual.
“At the end of the day, our quarterback went down, and the whole team took it personally,” Mosley said. “We were all right there on the sideline. That’s just how we are. We’re a family. That’s our quarterback, and that really set the tone for the rest of the game. It was a little chippy going throughout that. That’s our type of football.”
The players weren’t the only ones who were fuming. Ravens coach John Harbaugh was livid when he came from the sideline to yell at Alonso.
Harbaugh was far less emotional about Alonso in his postgame news conference.
“Yes, we were OK afterward,” Harbaugh said.
Asked if the hit provided more motivation for Baltimore, Harbaugh said, “I don’t know. That would be a good question for the players. I think execution is different than getting mad about something. You have to execute, and to me, they executed.”
The Ravens entered Thursday night averaging 18.5 points per game. After Flacco was hurt, Baltimore scored 27 points in 33 minutes.
“We’re all upset about it,” offensive tackle Austin Howard said. “It was a blindside shot, it was unnecessary and I hope the NFL takes the correct actions and takes care of that. But, right now, the game is over so we’re just looking forward to moving on.”