The Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens wrapped up one of the most exciting games of the season this past Sunday, as the two teams combined to score five touchdowns in the last three minutes of game time. The wild finish included a 77-yard Jacoby Jones kickoff return and a 79-yard receiving touchdown by Cordarrelle Patterson that began as a simple screen pass.
The Ravens were lucky to escape with the 29-26 victory, but they must be more than lucky if they hope to finish the regular season with a playoff spot secured. After Sunday’s victory, the Ravens stand at 7-6, and although the first-place Cincinnati Bengals also won, the Ravens slid into sole possession of the second wild card spot in the AFC. The first wild card spot is held by the 10-3 Kansas City Chiefs, meaning the Ravens must stay strong and hold their ground from the numerous teams that are just a game behind.
The main competition for the Ravens for the last wild card spot comes from their division rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers also escaped with a close victory on Sunday, and their 6-7 record keeps them just a step behind the improving Ravens. They also must fend off the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets and San Diego Chargers, all teams who will be just a game behind the Ravens at day’s end — granted the Chargers win their late afternoon game.
The Ravens won’t have any easy road to clinch a playoff spot, as they will finish the season facing the Detroit Lions, New England Patriots and Bengals in that order. The Ravens are on a three game winning streak, which must count for something, but the deciding factor for whether or not they will have a shot at repeating as Super Bowl champions will be if they can steal two more wins from their tough remaining schedule.