As the Ravens officially began their bye, they had to deal with an unexpected situation Tuesday.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco surprised teammates and coaches alike by rocking a "Jersey Shore"-inspired haircut for the team's charity Halloween party, which featured a faux hawk on top and the state of New Jersey shaved into the back of his head. The idea to transform from Joe Cool to Jersey Joe (which is how he referred to himself during the party) popped into Flacco's head when he saw Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino on the popular MTV series.
It took one hour, 40 minutes to complete Flacco's hair makeover Monday afternoon, which was handled by linebacker Tavares Gooden's barber. Put some oversized sunglasses on Flacco and he looked more suited to make a run at Snooki than the Super Bowl.
"I don't think the coaches know how to react to it," said Flacco, a New Jersey native who typically vacations on the shore. "I'm just having a little bit of fun."
It was all smiles Tuesday at Ravens headquarters, and it was only partly due to Flacco's new look. The players have received five days off.
Last October, the Ravens limped into their bye on a three-game losing streak. This season, the Ravens reached their break with a 5-2 record, their best in three seasons under coach John Harbaugh.
One of the major reasons for the Ravens' success has been the play of Flacco. In addition to his two fourth-quarter comebacks, he's 15th in the NFL in passing yards per game (235.9) and 11th in touchdowns (10).
"We've definitely had some success, and it's all about being consistent and going out there and putting consistent games back-to-back," Flacco said. "And I think as long as you do that, you'll see your offense and your team progress as each week goes on."
The turning point in Flacco's season came after Week 2, when he threw a career-worst four interceptions in a 15-10 loss at Cincinnati.
Since that game, a span of five weeks, Flacco has completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 1,249 yards. He has thrown nine touchdowns and one interception (although he could have had a couple if the Bills didn't drop one and fall out of bounds on another) for a 105.0 quarterback rating.
"I think the most important thing is just trusting in himself and believing in who he is," wide receiver Anquan Boldin said. "He's here for a reason. He's a great talent. He has every physical tool there is needed for a quarterback on this level."
Despite that strong run of games, Flacco is still getting criticized. Two NFL Network commentators questioned Flacco's leadership.
"He's still a manager," said Michael Irvin, a Hall of Fame wide receiver. "I'm waiting on him to take the reins and become a leader of that team. He hasn't done that yet."
Former NFL running back Marshall Faulk added, "I'm looking for him to stop riding the bus and start driving the bus."
Flacco took a significant step as a leader at halftime of Sunday's game with the Buffalo Bills. The Ravens went into the locker room after scoring 10 points in the final minute of the first half to close to within 24-10.
To the surprise of everyone, Flacco spoke up and told his teammates that they needed to keep the momentum going. Flacco believes everyone is making "way too big of a deal about this" because he didn't stand up and give a speech. He sat on his stool and delivered basically a one-liner.
"It wasn't very much," he said. "When we got done with the second quarter, I think we just needed to keep that going. We needed to stay on that roll, and I felt like every time we had the ball we needed to go down there and put points on the board. That's really all that was addressed and said."
During his off time, Flacco said he will go home and get the hair on top of his head cut short like his usual haircut. Then, the quarterback and the Ravens reconvene Monday, when they continue their preparations for their next opponent, the Miami Dolphins (3-3).
"I think we're feeling pretty confident about where we are," Flacco said. "We just have to continue to go out there and play hard and play our best every week."
Baltimore Sun reporter Edward Lee contributed to this article