So yesterday I opted to sell my tickets to a buddy’s daughter, preferring instead to be comfortable at home and not have to deal with the extreme weather and what I thought might be mind-blowing traffic problems following the game.
At halftime I was thinking, “Thank God I made THAT call!”
The first half was sloppy and the game boring through 45 minutes of football. I couldn’t help to think that by 4:15PM the Ravens season, for all intents and purposes could be over. And with 6:32 left in the 4th quarter trailing 12-7 and struggling mightily on offense, such nightmarish thoughts crept closer to reality.
Then with 2:05 remaining the Ravens jumped in front 15-12 after a Dennis Pitta 1-yard TD catch and a 2-point conversion from Joe Flacco to Torrey Smith.
Ok, defense – time to make a stand. Time to finally step up when it counts and get off the field to secure the game. Surely they could do that against the Minnesota Vikings who were winless during six previous business trips, right?
Thirty-eight seconds later it was 19-15 Vikings.
I felt like this Denver fan during last season’s Divisional Playoff Game at Mile High (viewer discretion advised).
On the ensuing kickoff, Jacoby Jones read Vikings kicker Blair Walsh like Ed Reed once read rookie quarterbacks and ran up to catch the intended pooch kick in flight and on the run. Seventy-seven 77 yards and 11 seconds later it was 22-19 Ravens.
My first thought – the Ravens defense got a mulligan. Surely they would put “Mighty” Matt Cassel away now, right?
Thirty-one seconds later the mulligan was wasted and the Vikings led 26-22.
I thought, “I wish the game had stayed boring with the Ravens holding the slim lead.”
Ok, c’mon Jacoby, you can do it again.
Eighty-yards of frozen tundra to navigate in 45 seconds seemed like a lot to ask for but then again, this game was so wacky that I felt anything was possible.
Forty-one seconds later the Ravens regained the lead 29-22. Yet somehow, I didn’t feel safe. Those 4 remaining seconds seemed like a lot.
Justin Tucker’s squib kick landed in the icy paws of Matt Asiata who returned it with purpose, vigor and determination and for a split second I thought the guy was going to break free and make it interesting.
Jubilation wasn’t part of my living room – it was pure relief.
What a game! What an ending! Could that final drive, that final pass to Marlon Brown be 2013’s answer to 2012’s 4th and 29?
I guess we’ll find out…
- The Ravens and Vikings combined for 13 points during the game’s first 45 minutes. Later they would score 36 points in 121 seconds. If you are a fan of football you just had to absolutely love this game!
- Great to see Dennis Pitta back in the lineup. He had a rough start but a strong finish and his presence will make a difference in the team’s offense from this point forward.
- Ray Rice played angry, running with purpose and determination. Here’s to him keeping that fire in his belly.
- Marlon Brown just makes plays. Maybe Jim Caldwell will allow him to make a few more.
- This is not a misprint and no I’m not on hallucinogens… Ed Dickson catches better in the snow (Don’t say it!)
- Jacoby Jones trumped the league’s best kick returner (Cordarrelle Patterson) averaging 38 yards on 5 returns including of course the 77-yarder for a score. He also showed great patience on punt returns…really heady game for No. 12
- James Ihedigbo failed to get proper depth on the Jerome Simpson touchdown and he missed a couple of tackles but deserves props for being all over the field making tackles (12) on that ice rink.
- Terrell Suggs returned to form as an edge setter contributing 6 tackles, 1 for a loss.
- Lardarius Webb rebounded from a slow start and had 4 passes defensed.
- Sam Koch had a couple of big punts to shift field position and netted 45.7 yards on 5 punts.
- Props to the fans who weathered blizzard-like conditions. Don’t let Adrian Peterson’s big mouth deter your passion because of childish behavior from a few knuckleheads.
- Offensive line penalties on Oher, Yanda and Monroe
- Torrey Smith dropped another catchable ball…tough conditions no doubt but other receivers made more difficult catches. He wasn’t on the same page as Flacco on a back shoulder throw in the fourth quarter.
- The tackling in the second half was very shoddy
- Arthur Brown may have shown us why he hasn’t been on the field more this season. He looked lost.
- Fourth down calls were poorly designed and clearly unimaginative. John Harbaugh’s decision to go for it on 4th and 1 with 10:42 left from the Vikings 21 was questionable with the score at 12-7.
- Offensive play calling was weak with too many sideline throws and not enough crossing routes where receivers have an advantage and quarterbacks have plenty of time to throw to allow such plays to develop.
- Dean Pees’ bend but don’t break approach late in the game when holding a slim lead has got to change. The Ravens defense has had plenty of chances to win a game by getting off the field in crunch time and the consistently fail in epic fashion.
- The Fox broadcast was abysmal, particularly with their lack of key replays and Chris Myers was about as informative as the 15 minutes of silence and Spanish that many viewers were “treated” to, to start the game. Habla Mucho Futbol?
- The officiating was atrocious. Maybe they let the guys play a little more than usual given the difficult conditions. But c’mon man…that was not a fumble by Toby Gerhart and that wasn’t pass interference on Chad Greenway (although it was illegal contact)
THOMPSON CREEK PLAYER OF THE GAME
His effort wasn’t always pretty and his decision-making was at times very questionable. But when the chips were down, Joe Flacco made enough plays to keep the teams hopes and spirits alive not only for this game but for the 2013 season. He shrugged off a 3-interception performance (one clearly the fault of Jacoby Jones) and made several plays with his feet to extend plays. And while Marlon Brown deserves plenty of credit for his toe tapping, game-winning effort with 4 seconds left, it was Flacco who put it there.
Some might say that this is a bit Pollyanna but maybe that 7 catch, 92 yard effort was a coming of age game for Brown and with the return of Pitta and a seemingly rejuvenated Ray Rice, maybe the Ravens offense might find that hot hand much like they did in 2012.