Top Five Playoff Moments For The Baltimore Ravens
To say the Baltimore Ravens’ championship run was improbable is a severe understatement, as they had to win games in every kind of circumstance. They had to beat future hall of famers and young studs alike at the quarterback position, two top-five defenses and had to go into two very hostile environments.
There was of course plenty of ups and downs during the Ravens’ four game run to the Lombardi Trophy, as all champions are tested repeatedly during a championship drive.
First there was the resurgent Indianapolis Colts led by rookie of the year candidate Andrew Luck. The Ravens’ defense took center stage as they hounded Luck all game, as Luck and the Colts couldn’t even muster one touchdown and scored just nine points.
Next up was the Denver Broncos on the road. The Ravens showed the resiliency a champion needs as they were pushed to the brink numerous times before emerging with a miraculous double-overtime victory over Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
The final AFC test was traveling to Foxborough to enact revenge on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. After losing a heartbreaker in the previous AFC title game, the Ravens allowed a mere 13 points to Brady and the Patriots’ potent offense en route to a 28-13 victory that finally sent the Ravens to the Super Bowl.
The only thing that stood in the way of the Ravens’ second Super Bowl championship was the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers boasted a top-tier defense and rushing attack, and their quarterback Colin Kaepernick was on the verge of becoming a folk hero.
While the 49ers did have success running the football, Kaepernick was contained for the most part as he didn’t have the impact he had in previous games. The Ravens’ balance on both sides of the ball overcame the 49ers' inconsistent play as the more consistent team came out on top.
More specifically, the following slides are the five main reasons why the Ravens ultimately were able to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
Jacoby Jones Hail Mary Against Denver Broncos
It was one of the most improbable and inexcusable plays in recent NFL playoff history, as the Ravens snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
Trailing by seven with under a minute to play, Joe Flacco found Jacoby Jones for an unbelievable 70-yard Hail Mary touchdown with just 31 seconds left in regulation. Jones flew down the sideline and got behind Broncos’ safety Rahim Moore, as he reeled in the pass and scampered the remaining 10 yards untouched for the miraculous score.
In a game where each team dealt blows back and forth, this play by the Ravens proved to be one of the more crippling blows and one that the Broncos never recovered from.
The Broncos lost all momentum, as they were devastatingly shocked from the huge play and played a lackluster overtime period. Manning threw an interception to Corey Graham in Broncos’ territory at the end of the first overtime, which set up Justin Tucker’s game-winning 47-yard field goal.
The improbable victory only happened because of the Jones’ Hail Mary, and that play was a catalyst for the Ravens gaining some swagger on their championship run. Very seldom does a Hail Mary help decide a playoff game, but the connection from Flacco to Jones will go down in both Ravens and NFL playoff lore
Second Half Against The Patriots
The Ravens and Patriots have become very familiar with each other since the Flacco/John Harbaugh era began. Despite their familiarity, the Ravens were never able to get to the Super Bowl, while Brady and the Patriots had made two trips to the big game.
Flacco and the Ravens crushed Brady and the Patriots in Foxborough back in 2009 playoffs, but the loss to the Pats in the AFC title game last season resonated much stronger. After a dropped touchdown and missed field goal, the Ravens were left devastated as they were one play away from going to the Super Bowl.
To their credit, the Ravens never wavered as this season rolled around, as they enacted a small bit of revenge by defeating the Pats in Week 3 in Baltimore.
However, the AFC title game rematch was what the Ravens had been waiting for since their heartbreaking loss the season before, and they made the most of their opportunity. Trailing 13-7 at halftime, the Ravens did something that had never been done against the Patriots under the current regime; win a game in Foxborough when trailing at halftime.
The Patriots had been 67-0 all time at home when leading at halftime during the Brady/Bill Belichick era, but that impressive streak came to a screeching halt against the Ravens.
While Flacco was throwing for three second-half touchdowns, the Patriots’ offense mustered zero points on six possessions. The Patriots punted twice, lost a fumble, threw two interceptions and turned the ball over on downs en route to their collapse.
The Ravens were big underdogs going into the game, but a victory wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. However, how the Ravens enacted their revenge against the Patriots in such a convincing manner during the second half was something that was unprecedented and will go down as one of the biggest victories in franchise history.
Jacoby Jones Kickoff Return In Super Bowl
In a season when he was the best return man in the league, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that Jacoby Jones rewrote Super Bowl history.
Jones was the All Pro returner and led the NFL in return touchdowns, as he came through for the Ravens in some big situations. None was bigger than the way he started the second half of the Super Bowl. With the Ravens leading 21-6 and getting the ball to start the second half, Jones made sure his offense had more time to rest when he made Super Bowl history
Jones took the opening kickoff of the second half 108 yards to give the Ravens what appeared to be an insurmountable 28-6 lead. The play was the longest in Super Bowl history, as the All Pro was on his way to 290 total yards, which was also a Super Bowl record.
Of course, after that Jones touchdown the infamous blackout occurred, which delayed the game 34 minutes. After the lengthy delay, the 49ers made a roaring comeback and had a chance to win the game in the final minutes of the game, but were thwarted.
Aside from the historical value, Jones’ return served a bigger purpose. At the time of the Jones return touchdown, it seemed like icing on the cake. However, the Ravens needed every point they could get en route to their three-point victory. With all things considered, this play was definitely one of the top moments in the Ravens’ championship run.
Overcoming Two Special Teams Touchdowns Allowed Against Denver
Sometimes it takes crushing moments during the course of a game to awaken a team. The Ravens were dealt a couple of rude awakenings against the Broncos in the divisional round.
Trindon Holliday had a solid season in the return game, as just like Jacoby Jones, Holiday was one of five players to return both a kick and punt for a touchdown during the regular season.
After the Ravens opening drive of the game stalled, Holiday backpedaled and took a Sam Koch punt 90 yards for a touchdown just 2:46 into the game. The punt return was the longest in NFL postseason history and gave the Broncos instant momentum.
To the Ravens’ credit, they battled hard the remainder of the first half and ended up tied 21-21 at halftime. However, the momentum was short lived, as Holliday wasn’t done making history.
Holliday took the opening kickoff of the second half 104 yards for the Broncos’ first postseason kickoff return for a touchdown ever. The 104-yard return was also the longest kickoff return in NFL postseason history, and Holliday’s combined return yardage total of 255 yards was also an NFL postseason record.
Of course, Jacoby Jones would claim the longest kickoff return in NFL playoff history in the Super Bowl, but Holliday’s return was huge nonetheless.
The second Holliday touchdown gave the Broncos the lead again and could’ve been a catalyst for Denver to take control of the game, but the Ravens never wavered. They hung with the Broncos and gave themselves a chance, which turned out to be huge as Flacco found Jones for the epic Hail Mary that forced overtime.
You never want to allow a special teams touchdown in the first minutes of both halves, but the way the Ravens battled back showed the resiliency of a champion. The Ravens’ guile was tested early in each half but they rose to the occasion en route to a shocking road win.
Goal Line Stand To End Ray Lewis' Career
Could it end any other way for Ray Lewis?
Playing in the final game of his illustrious 17-year career, Lewis and his Baltimore defense would have to thwart Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers four times in a goal-to-go situation to claim the Lombardi Trophy. It was beyond fitting that Lewis would have to lead a goal line stand in the last game of his “final ride,” as the 49ers had four chances starting at the Baltimore seven-yard line.
LaMichael Jamestwo-yard run on first down, the 49ers went to the air on their final three downs. With Lewis barking orders and motivational speeches, the Ravens stymied Kaepernick and the 49ers three straight plays to effectively clinch the Super Bowl victory
While Joe Flacco, Jacoby Jones and the offense were racking up the points, it was the Ravens calling card that clinched the Super Bowl; stout defense led by Ray Lewis
Lewis is the preeminent defensive player of his era and the way the Ravens clinched the Super Bowl was the makings of a storybook ending. In his “last ride” Lewis and the defense rose to the occasion to claim the championship and allow their leader to bookend his career with another championship.