After reading my post listing the 11th-15th most agonizing Ravens games, you’re probably thinking, “There’s no way that there are 10 games worse than those!” You’re wrong; I promise. By the end, I’m sure your fingernails will be all the way down to your cuticle, and your dentist will wonder why you’ve been grinding your teeth so much.
The date: November 15, 2015
The stakes: Not much. Coming off a bye, the Ravens were 2-6. There was still a chance of the Ravens making playoffs if they went on a hot streak, but it wasn’t promising. Nothing in the first 8 games of the year signaled that they were ready to turn the season around, and the Jaguars were Jaguar-ing as much as any year. It’s safe to say that there were very few televisions tuning into this game outside of Baltimore and Jacksonvi-who am I kidding? No one cared outside of Baltimore.
The Ravens looked like they had a win. With 2:00 left to go in the game and up 20-19, the Ravens faced a 3rd and 9 from the 47-yard line, and the Jaguars had no timeouts. After a short dump-off to Buck Allen, the best punter in the league, Sam Koch was prepared to send one off from the Jaguars’ 43.
I say he’s the best punter in the league because he is, but I’m sure you can guess where that punt landed.
Yep, right into the back of the end. The Jags then moved methodically down the field. After an 11-yard completion, Jags TE Julius Thomas was tackled in the middle of the field at the Ravens’ 49. The clock was ticking and they had 8 seconds, which isn’t enough to get another play off, right? RIGHT?
Wrong…sort of. The play was run, and there wasn’t much happening. Every player from both teams looked like they thought regulation was over, but Bortles was falling down and scampering around in the backfield. This play wasn’t going anywhere. The Ravens just needed to bring him to the ground, and the scare would be over.
But Elvis Dumervil tackled him….BY THE FACE MASK. The Jaguars got an untimed down and Jason Myers kicked the game-winning field goal. The next day, the NFL would come out and say they made a mistake for not blowing this play dead due to the offensive line not being set. It would have been a false start, and the game would have been over.
Final score: Jaguars 22 Ravens 20
The date: October 18, 2009
The stakes: After starting the year 3-0, the Ravens had lost two painful, painful games, both involving roughing the passer penalties and one that you’ll see on this list soon. But a win would give them some momentum going into the bye week. Their big test was the Vikings led by the one and only Brett Favre.
Going into halftime, the Vikings were controlling the game. They would have been up by a score of 14-0 if not for a Steven Hauschka field goal to finally put the Ravens on the board right before the close of the first half. The Ravens would close the gap a couple of times, but the Vikings kept responding with a score of their own. By the 10 minute mark of the 4th quarter, the Vikings had extended their lead to 27-10.
Then, the Ravens came roaring back. In one of the most impressive comebacks in the franchise’s history, Baltimore scored 3 touchdowns in under 7 minutes to make it a 31-30 game with just under 4 minutes to go in regulation. Sidney Rice responded by torching Frank Walker (grr) for 58 yards to put the Vikings in field goal range to take the lead.
But the Ravens still had time. Flacco and the offense marched the ball all the way to the Vikings 26 for a 44-yard field goal attempt. We had it in the bag!
But the kick went *gulp* wide left, and the Ravens lost their third consecutive game.
8.) A.J. Green
The date: September 27, 2015
The stakes: After going 0-2 in heartbreaking fashion to start the year (DAMN YOU, BAD HOLDING CALLS), the Ravens were desperate for a win to keep up in the competitive AFC North. If they could beat the Bengals, they would be in a decent position in the standings. If not, well…
Much like the opener in 2014, the Ravens did nothing against the Bengals in the first half. Justin Tucker missed a 50-yard field goal, but the Ravens had few chances outside of that one. They went into the half down 14-0, and they were lucky to only be down by two scores.
It looked like the Bengals were about to add onto that lead, too. But Andy Dalton threw a pass up near the back of the endzone that was intercepted by Jimmy Smith. The Ravens had life, but a lot of work to do. Steve Smith was up to the task. Facing a 4th and 5 from midfield, Smith Sr. broke a tackle and took it down the right sideline for an exhilarating touchdown.
Then, in the middle of the 4th quarter, an Elvis Dumervil strip sack was scooped by C.J. Mosley and scored to give the Ravens a 17-14 lead. Immediately after, in the biggest case of déjà vu I’ve ever felt at a football game, A.J. Green happened.
Steve Smith scored a second time to give the Ravens another lead. But the theme of 2015 rendered itself for the second time to this point in the season: they Ravens couldn’t hold a late lead. And A.J. Green was the one to once again do the damage. Steve Smith tried to do it all by himself on the final drive of the game for the Ravens after the second A.J. Green score. It wasn’t enough. A Kelechi Osemele face mask effectively ended the game, forcing the Ravens into a prayer of a throw to Maxx Williams, which dropped to the turf.
After the game, it was clear that 2015 wasn’t going to be as fun as we thought for Baltimore football.
Final score: Bengals 27 Ravens 24
The date: October 4, 2009
The stakes: The Ravens were 3-0 and off to a fast start to the season. Fresh off of a 2008 knee injury, Tom Brady was a bit sensitive to defenders touching him and being anywhere near his knees. Both teams looked like they would be in it for the long haul. This would have implications on playoff seeding.
The first point of infuriation in this game came right at the opening kickoff when Chris Carr fumbled and gave the Patriots the ball inside of the Ravens 20 for their first possession. The defense, in its usual impressive fashion during that time in Ravens history, managed to hold the Pats to a field goal.
On the ensuing drive, the Ravens moved methodically down the field for an 81-yard touchdown drive. When they gave the ball back, it looked like they were going to hold the Patriots to a long field goal attempt. That is until the Patriots’ favorite offensive player of the day, Referee Ron Winter, decided it was his time to shine. A crucial roughing the passer call on Haloti Ngata, where he barely grazed Brady’s helmet, would extend the drive, and the Patriots would put the ball in the end zone to go up 10-7.
After a few punts back and forth, the Patriots held the ball on the Ravens 43-yard line and faced a 2nd and 11. A Tom Brady pass to Sammy Morris went for one yard…until that damn yellow laundry found its way onto the field again. Surely, it couldn’t have been as docile of a hit as the last one, right? RIGHT!?
UGH (Side note: You go, Rodney!). Notice the official nodding his head, saying, “Yeah, Tom, we got you! You’re the best! You’re coming to my grandson’s birthday party still, right?” Or something along those lines.
Even after all of that, the Ravens managed to hang around in this one to the bitter end. On the Ravens’ final possession of the game, which started at their own 20, Joe Flacco and company faced a 3rd and 4 red zone opportunity. That pass went incomplete to Derrick Mason. On the next play, Joe Flacco found an open Mark Clayton near the right sideline.
As you can see, the ball hits him right in the hands, but…
Of course he dropped it. That would do it, folks.
Final score: Ravens 21 Patriots 27
The Ravens got their revenge later in the year, and in a big way. They would clobber the Patriots in the Wild Card Round by the score of 33-14. So at least we have that memory to fall back on.
The date: December 5, 2010
The stakes: Both teams were 8-3 heading into the game, looking for the division title. A win, in effect, would give the Ravens a 2-game lead since they would hold the tiebreaker due to a win in Pittsburgh earlier that year.
Like a typical hard-nosed Steelers-Ravens game, there wasn’t much offense to speak of in this contest. As they headed into the 4th quarter, the Steelers were down 10-3 facing a 1st and goal-to-go situation from inside the 5. But the Ravens held them to 3 and the slobber-knocker of a contest continued. Neither team saw many good chances to score after that opportunity, either.
Later in the game, the Ravens faced a 2nd and 5 with under 4 minutes left to go in the game at their own 43. They were in great shape to move the ball down the field and work some clock. Looking to get a first down to run out some significant time, Flacco dropped back for a pass.
He was immediately stripped by a thick head of hair flapping in the wind. LaMarr Woodley recovered the fumble at the 28 and returned it to the Ravens 9. Troy Polamalu had made another game-changing play.
Still, the Steelers needed to push the ball into the endzone, and they hadn’t done that all day. After a couple of incomplete passes, they decided to throw a slant to RB Isaac Redman. During a night in which the Ravens dominated the Steeler offense, they looked like they would certainly keep him from getting into the end zone…
The Ravens would move it down the field on the next drive, all the way to the Steeler 31, where they faced a 4th and 2. If Justin Tucker were around, I bet they would have kicked the field goal. But there was no Tucker. There was just Billy Cundiff.
On that 4th and 2, Flacco looked for Ed Dickson in the flat, but the play was batted at the line.
Final score: Steelers 13 Ravens 10
That’s it for this round, folks. If you haven’t gotten enough torture yet, be sure to check out #5-#1.