The play-by-play chart on NFL.com for the games opening play reads: 6-S.Hauschka kicks 56 yards from BAL 30 to PIT 14. 33-G.Russell to PIT 34 for 20 yards (81-M.Smith). BAL-39-D.Stone was injured during the play. His return is Doubtful.
If we were only that lucky.
You’ve probably heard of Robert “Hands of Stone” Duran. And unfortunately you are most definitely familiar with Daren “Head of Bone” Stone.
Let’s set the stage…
The Ravens fight and claw their way to a two point deficit against the Steelers during the AFC Championship Game. Trailing 16-14 the Ravens force a key three-and-out and subsequently the Steelers punt with 7:00 minutes left in the game. As he’s done so often, Pittsburgh punter Mitch Berger hits a relatively lame punt 38 yards to the Ravens 28 and Jim Leonhard returns it to his own 39.
First and 10 with 6:50 to go.
We all begin to feel it. The Ravens just might do to the Steelers what the Steelers had done to the Ravens twice during the regular season – snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
(Return from commercial break)
Oh, the horror!
The crowd pounces on the shift in momentum as the Ravens now start their drive from the 14 yard line.
Five plays and 2:11 later, Troy Polamalu picks off a Joe Flacco pass and returns it 40 yards for the score.
Game, set, match, likely end of Stone as a Raven.
That will be the one play that we’ll ponder during the long off-season and ask, “What if?”
It’s tough to pin a loss on one play and Stone’s teammates and coaches will and have said the same. Yet during the course of a game, there are pivotal plays or mistakes that heavily affect a game’s outcome and clearly this was a mistake of monumental proportions.
How are you sleeping these days Daren?
Yes I did it – I watched that Championship game again. And here are a few of my notes and observations that unfortunately will linger for a while…