Well, well, well, all the cocky douche bag sportswriters from Denver had to eat a little crow Saturday night. No one thought the Ravens could go into Denver and beat “the best team in football”. But as Justin Tucker’s kick screamed between the uprights in double overtime, they did just that. However incredible and memorable that kick was, it will be an afterthought to the play that tied the game in regulation. Looking at a 7 point deficit, the Ravens had the ball on their own 30, staring a 3rd and 3 in the face with no timeouts. Screw dim, everything looked pitch black. But Joe Cool thought otherwise. Birk snapped the ball and Flacco dropped back, looking deep. He ducked and dodged some pressure and then launched a 55 yard bomb. Guess what, we had a guy there. The ball fell from the sky into the waiting arms of our friend, Jacoby Jones. Twenty more yards and a blown kiss equaled a touchdown, and the greatest play in the greatest game in Baltimore Raven history was complete.
Make no mistake about it, if you are a Ravens fan, this is the best game you have ever seen. Four times the Ravens trailed, four times they came back. There were kick returns, pick sixes, QB fumbles, a Hail Mary, and a Holy Crap. There were not one, but two last minute drives by your QB Joe Flacco. There were clutch third down catches in the fourth quarter, and in overtime. There were big hits and huge sacks. This game had it all. Games like this are the reason we love football. But on a national level it seems this game is more about how the Broncos lost it rather than how the Ravens won it. Blown coverages and bad coaching decisions dominated ESPN and similar outlets. Understandable considering the way the Ravens tied it, and understandable considering how Manning threw that horrific pass in OT. They would have you believe that this game was given to the Ravens; that foolish coaches and the arm strength of an aging Hall of Famer had more to do with Baltimore advancing than anything else. I think that’s bullshit.
This game was about a quarterback who, like Rodney Dangerfield, gets no respect. Can you imagine if the roles had been reversed and Peyton had throw that bomb to tie the game? Or Brady, or Brees, or Eli? The national media would be drooling over them like Sir Mix A Lot drools over big butts. But it wasn’t only that throw. The bomb to Torrey, the three play touchdown drive to end the first half, and the absolute strike to Pitta on 3rd and 13 out of his own end zone in overtime. There were also clutch third down throws in the second half and overtime that extended drives in the crucial battle for field position. Flacco outplayed Manning, and made the crucial plays that won Baltimore this game.
This game was about a team that has overcome all season. A deflating end to 2011, personal tragedy, injuries to stars, and a late season OC change would have left some teams staring 7-9 in the face. But the Ravens went ahead and won the division, all the while keeping in mind that their goal remained the same. To get back to where they left off last year. To get that chance to make that next step. The fact that the Ravens went across the country to high altitudes on a short week and beat the top seed in the AFC should not be understated. This was a tough win. And now they get that extra day to prepare for New England.
This game was incredible. It was a huge win for a team that everyone outside of Baltimore doubted. But there is more work to be done. No one knows that more than the Ravens themselves. More disrespect will follow this week, as the national media will focus on the Pats and their explosive offense. But with the emotion of Ray leaving and the mental toughness that this team displays, it feels like it could be our time. Our time. F-Bomb. Boom.