A storybook year certainly ended in storybook fashion. The elation of winning The Lombardi might never wear off and winning it makes the ensuing offseason seem even longer.
We’re getting to the point where news can be a little slow and where we miss the sport the most. September is still months away, so the most we can do is look forward to it and reflect on the season that will live in our hearts forever.
Counting down the top five games of last season—why not?
5: A Game of Inches— The Ravens get an Improbable Victory against New England
I had a hard time deciding which great regular season game should be number five, but I couldn’t leave this one off the list. Too many storylines to count in this game as Torrey Smith shined on one of the darkest days of his life.
Smith reeled in six passes for 127 yards and got his first two touchdowns of the season. It was all about emotion, and that carried all throughout the game as Justin Tucker got his first chance to prove himself in front of fans at M&T. We will never forget the inches that were needed for Tucker to boot the ball directly over the right upright to seal the victory. The famous words of Al Michaels said it all.—“Oh BABY!”
4: Giant Collapse—Eli and Co. Fall to the Ravens
Beating the G-Men 33-14, there is no doubt that winning this game gave the team the push they needed and propelled them into the playoffs. If the Ravens would have lost this one, they would have been put in a must-win situation in week 17 and at possible risk of ending the year on a five-game skid. Thanks to Joe Flacco, that didn’t happen.
Flacco was under the most scrutiny at this point in the season, but he came through when he was needed most. He put together one of his better games, throwing for over 300 yards as the team got their biggest win of the late stretch. New York didn’t have a chance from the beginning as the Ravens were up by 17 at half, and Eli Manning seemed to give up. He only threw for 150 yards and the Ravens clinched.
3: Hey Diddle Diddle—Ray Rice Delivers a Miracle in San Diego
You couldn’t leave this game off of the list! This game was U-G-L-Y until the 4:19 mark in the 4th quarter when Joe Flacco got the team within three points on a TD pass to Dennis Pitta. Dean Pees’ defense got a huge stop for an opportunity to set the Ravens up to tie, or even win the game.
What happened next would be the best play of the 2012 season thanks to Ray Rice and Anquan Boldin, who laid down the key block to get Rice past the marker.
Justin Tucker kicked a field goal to tie as time expired, and booted another with 1:07 left in OT to send the Ravens to 9-2. 4th-and-29 wasn’t enough to keep the Ravens down—a trend that would help the Ravens get to the ultimate game, which happens to be #2 on our list.
2: Mile High Miracle—Jacoby Jones and Joe Flacco Connect, Ravens Advance to AFCC
The Super Bowl may have meant more, but when you think of the season, you think Mile High.
The Ravens proved that no matter how much the media drooled over Peyton Manning, they were the better team. Every phase of the game was played with 100% effort, and it was clear from the start that this was a team that was not giving up. Jacoby Jones’ catch, followed by Corey Graham’s interception, all capped off by Justin Tucker being the clutch guy that he is—the Ravens were going to beat New England in the next one without question. This game provided the momentum that Ray Lewis’ crew needed to ultimately be the Super Bowl Champions.
1: Super Bowl XLVII—the Ravens complete the improbable, win Super Bowl
Baltimore fans finally got the victory that we had been waiting for since January 2001. The Ravens completed their best season in years to beat the 49ers and prove that, when it comes to Harbaughs, John really is better than Jim.
Joe Flacco EARNED the MVP he was given after his incredible playoff run that will be in the record books forever. Jimmy Smith came up with clutch plays by the goal line where the Ravens defense stopped Colin Kaepernick and Co. A power outage couldn’t stop the team that was meant to win the game. John Harbaugh picked up his first Super Bowl of hopefully many in a game that will never be forgotten.
I’m sure there will be some folks saying I misfired on this top-5, so let’s hear it – how’s your list look?