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Joe Flacco helps Cleveland Browns clinch unlikely playoff berth in win overshadowed by Elijah Moore injury

By Thomas Schlachter and Homero De la Fuente, CNN

(CNN) — Joe Flacco continued his impressive comeback to the NFL as the 38-year-old quarterback led the Cleveland Browns to a 37-20 rout of the New York Jets and seal an unlikely spot in the playoffs.

The Browns will now head to the postseason for the first time since 2020, and third since 1999, following the win against the Jets on Thursday Night Football.

However, Cleveland’s win was overshadowed when Browns wide receiver Elijah Moore left the game early after suffering a scary head injury.

The incident occurred towards the end of the second quarter, when Moore was tackled into the ground by Jets linebacker C.J. Mosely, with his head making a hard impact with the turf.

The 23-year-old laid on the field after the hit, with his head and hands appearing to twitch involuntarily. Cleveland’s medical personnel immediately attended to Moore, before he was able to walk to the sidelines under his own power after a momentary delay.

After being evaluated in the team’s medical tent, Moore was shown on the Amazon Prime broadcast walking towards the team’s locker room. He was later ruled out with a head injury, according to team reporter Doc Louallen.

Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski has provided an update on wide receiver Elijah Moore.

“Elijah Moore spent the night in the hospital,” Stefanski said to reporters Friday afternoon. “He is home now. He’s in concussion protocol, so we’ll just work through that over the next few days with him, but glad that he’s back home.”

Flacco’s hot streak

If the Browns making the playoffs is an unlikely story, then doing so with Flacco at quarterback must have been an unthinkable story.

The veteran started this season on the couch but with injury problems plaguing Cleveland’s quarterback options, Flacco was given a chance to return to the NFL.

Since returning to the field, no quarterback has thrown for more yards or more touchdowns than Flacco and his hot streak continued on Thursday.

The 38-year-old eclipsed the 300 passing yards mark for the fourth straight game, finishing the match with 309 passing yards and three touchdowns.

Starring against his former team, Flacco put on quite the show – he became the first quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards against the Jets in 34 games.

The Browns now boast a 4-1 record with Flacco starting at quarterback.

“I said it from the very beginning. I mean, this city has been unbelievable, my teammates have been unbelievable in terms of just embracing me onto this football team. So, it’s all been great and it makes it that much more special to be able to come in here and play some good football,” Flacco told reporters after the game.

‘Unbelievable atmosphere’

The game itself was practically decided by the halftime interval. The Browns took a 34-17 lead into the break after an imperious showing in the opening two quarters.

Flacco found running back Jerome Ford for two touchdowns. The second of those touchdowns resulted from Ford’s incredible run after he received Flacco’s short pass. Kareem Hunt and Moore also added touchdowns for Cleveland, as did Ronnie Hickman off an interception.

“Unbelievable atmosphere. So, yeah, to get it done in front of the home crowd, to actually get ourselves into that next step in the season, it definitely made it extra special,” Flacco added after the win. “I think you kind of lose control of yourself a little bit, but it’s just so much fun.”

The Browns face the Cincinnati Bengals in their last game of the regular season and will be heading into that game and towards the playoffs full of confidence, buoyed by their late-season form.

CNN’s Jillian Martin contributed to this report.

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