Clear your mind, get focused on the next game. It's a timeless NFL chestnut of wisdom, but one that owes its longevity to an essential nugget of truth at its center. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said the same last week, following a 23-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills that saw him throw five interceptions.
"Right away, you get a little pissed off," Flacco told SB Nation this week, "and pretty quickly have to put it behind you."
Five interceptions in a game was a new career-high -- low's probably the more apt term -- for last season's Super Bowl MVP. What goes through his head when the ball winds up in the hands of an opposing defender?
"A lot of curse words," he said.
"You know, sometimes, when you've throw five, you wish you were 10-years old again, and you could just go cry, get all the emotion out of you and forget about it."
Of course, Flacco doesn't have that option, so he does the next best thing ... after letting a his frustration out some not-for-TV language.
"Being an adult and a pro football player, you've got to bottle it up," Flacco revealed. "Take it for what it was and get it out of your mind so you can go out there on the next drive and give your team the best chance to score a touchdown. If that interception or that turnover is still dominating your thoughts, you're not going to give your team the best chance to do that."
Flacco doesn't have much time to dwell on the mistakes as it is. The Ravens are fighting for the lead the AFC North, a week-to-week dogfight in one of the league's toughest divisions. He's also focused on getting used to all the new faces in the Ravens' offense. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin and tight end Dennis Pitta, the team's two leading receivers in last season's playoff run, aren't there for the quarterback this year. Boldin, a cap casualty, was dealt to San Francisco. Pitta landed on injured reserve before the season started.
"We've got some new guys on the perimeter to go along with Torrey [Smith] and Jacoby [Jones]," Flacco said. Jones is hurt now too. "We've got some young guys, we've had to adjust a little bit, and we've had to get better and better. We're still working on that. We have to go out there every day and get a little bit better. It's going to be a week to week process."
Smith leads the Ravens with 435 receiving yards, but there's a drop off after that. Veteran tight end Dallas Clark, added this season, is second with 175 yards on 16 catches. Marlon Brown, a rookie, is next on the list with 150 yards. Brown also leads the team in receiving touchdowns with three.
"It's different," Flacco said of getting used to the new faces. "You've got to make sure you demand a lot out of those guys and make sure they're putting in the work. At the same time, you've got to be patient. You have to realize that it's going to take a little bit of time. We're doing this for a reason. It's going to pay off huge dividends in the end. We're demanding a lot out of these guys. We're working hard, we're staying patient and we feel like in the end it's going to help our team out a lot."
Flacco did get a chance to clear his mind early last week after the loss to the Bills. He spent time in Los Angeles working on another project: an endorsement deal with McDonalds. He and Colin Kaepernick, his Super Bowl counterpart from last season, are the pitchmen for the fast food chain's new Mighty Wings.
I was out in LA, shooting a commercial with Colin Kaepernick. WHOTOOKTHEMIGHTYWINGS.com Will be revealed during SNF this week.
But Flacco and his NFC counterpart did more than swap stolen wing theories while they were in L.A. together. They spent some time getting to know each other. Surprisingly enough, the two didn't meet, except for a handshake on the field, during the Super Bowl.
"I had never met him before," Flacco said. "It was cool just hanging out with him during the shoot. The Super Bowl did not really come up, I have to be honest with you. I wasn't going to bring it up and rub it in, and I don't think he was going to bring it up so I could rub it in."
They also talked about a mutual friend: Boldin.
"I asked him how he was getting used to him," Flacco said. "He was saying that he's a big physical guy, he goes up and catches the ball really well, and obviously it's working out for them."
Once the commercial shoot ended, Flacco was on his way back to Baltimore to resume the process of getting his young receivers versed in the offense and on the same page as the quarterback, adjusting to life without Anquan Boldin and getting ready to play the Miami Dolphins this Sunday.
"You have to refocus your energy, hone some things up," Flacco said. "There's no better motivation than losing a football game and having that taste in your mouth.
"Right now, we're a 2-2 football team that hasn't played a couple games the way we'd like to play them. We're still right where we want to be and have a really good shot at doing what we want to."