The Mile High Miracle Remembered
Like many of you, nine years ago this evening I was front and center in my living room focused on the Ravens at Broncos Divisional Playoff Game. It was a bitter cold day in Denver with temperatures that dipped into single digits later in the game. The Ravens were 9-point underdogs, a number that seemed a bit light considering that less than a month prior, the Broncos visited M&T Bank Stadium and spanked John Harbaugh & Co by the score of 34-17. A score that really didn’t indicate how badly Denver dominated the Ravens.
The Broncos possessed the ball over 38 minutes and led at the start of the 4th quarter by the score of 31-3. The Ravens at one point looked like they might get back in the game. Trailing 10-0 with just seconds remaining in the second quarter, Joe Flacco was intercepted at the Denver 2-yard line by Chris Harris who proceeded to make a house call from 98 yards out. After that play the game’s outcome was never in doubt.
So when the Ravens traveled to Mile High, few thought that they had any chance at all. And when the Ravens first possession stalled after one first down forcing a Sam Koch punt at the 12:32 mark of the first quarter, Trindon Holliday returned it 90 yards for the score.
But the Ravens didn’t blink, answering with a Flacco to Torrey Smith score from 59 yards out to knot the score at 7. The teams went back and forth throughout the contest. Then, at the 0:41 mark of the fourth quarter with the Ravens trailing 35-28, they faced a third-and-3 with the clock running and no timeouts remaining.
Despite rushing just three, the Broncos defensive front forced Flacco to step up in the pocket. You can watch the game call from Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf below. (Thanks for the effort Kevin!)
Nine years ago today, Joe Flacco connected with Jacoby Jones for a 70-yard touchdown strike that would later be called the “Mile High Miracle” to tie the game at 35 with 31 seconds left vs. the Broncos in the Divisional Round
The Ravens would win in 2OT pic.twitter.com/G0MXrkbRqN
— Kevin Oestreicher (@koestreicher34) January 12, 2022
It’s really interesting how the collective attention of Gumbel and Dierdorf is focused exclusively on the Broncos’ failure and not the truly elite (dare I say) throw by Flacco. I guess we all know they quietly rooted for. But I digress…
I remember sitting on my couch, slumped down with the body language of a loser, yet processing thoughts on how I would seek the silver lining and share with our audience that the season was a successful one, albeit a bit shorter than we hoped.
And then the Mile High Miracle happened.
Here’s a video from the perspective of a Broncos fan who happened to say the exact same thing that I shouted, although with slightly different context (WARNING: Explicit Language).
During the offseason following the Ravens Super Bowl 47 win, I had the opportunity to interview Justin Tucker before a gathering at what was then the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards. During the discussion Justin and I revisited this game and he shared that never before in his life was he ever nervous about attempting a kick. But the thought that a successful extra point would be the difference between extending Ray Lewis’ career or ending it, produced a bit of unprecedented cold sweat for the then Ravens rookie kicker.
The Ravens have provided some epic memories for us all. And undoubtedly, more await.