Cleveland Browns quarterback Joe Flacco was named the AP Comeback Player of the Year on Thursday at NFL Honors in Las Vegas, edging out Los Angeles Rams signal-caller Matthew Stafford.
Flacco and Stafford were among the finalists for the award, a group that included Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield and Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, among others.
Flacco received 13 first-place votes, 26 second-place votes and eight third-place votes for a total of 151 points. Stafford earned one first-place vote, six second-place votes and seven third-place votes for a total of 30 points.
Flacco came out of retirement to take over as the Browns starting quarterback when Deshaun Watson suffered a season-ended shoulder in Week 10.
The 39-year-old led the team to a 4-1 record in five starts en route to a playoff berth. Flacco threw for 1,616 yards and 13 touchdowns, which are the most in NFL history by a quarterback who made his season debut within the final six games of a season.
While the Browns’ season came to an end with a 45-14 loss to the Houston Texans in the Wild Card Round, Flacco still had plenty to be proud of.
He became the first quarterback in Browns history to have 300-plus passing yards in four straight games, and his 323.2 passing yards per game (minimum 200 attempts) led the NFL.
It was a night of celebration for Cleveland, who also saw Myles Garrett awarded AP Defensive Player of the Year, Kevin Stefanski voted AP Coach of the Year and Jim Schwartz awarded AP Assistant Coach of the Year.
Matthew Stafford 2023 season with Rams
After dealing with several injuries during the 2022 season, Stafford returned to the Rams last year and showed he can still play at a high level. He led the team to a 9-6 record during the regular season and nearly completed an improbable comeback over the Detroit Lions in the Wild Card Round.
Stafford completed 326 of 521 passes for 3,965 yards and 24 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. He became the 11th player in NFL history to eclipse 53,000 career passing yards and moved into 11th all-time in passing touchdowns.
Stafford figures to make more NFL history in 2024 as he needs just 10 touchdowns and 977 passing yards to surpass Eli Manning for 10th all-time in both categories.