Well, I took a long walk to clear my head after reviewing all of the Ravens playoff defeats over the years. Luckily, there were only seven to review. Now I turn my attention to the 12 playoff victories: A rundown of the Ravens playoff victories ranking from the good to the great to the greatest.
12. Sun Jan 13, 2002 at Miami. Wild Card Round. Ravens 20, Dolphins 3. It started off horribly. The Ravens fumbled the opening kick and gave Miami a field goal. But that was all the defense, mostly intact from the record setting 2000 group, would surrender. Travis Taylor caught a 45-yard bomb to dig the Ravens out of a hole and caught a TD pass later in the game. Terry Allen and Matt Stover provided the rest of the points as the Ravens won comfortably to start a title defense that would end a week later.
11. Sunday Jan 4, 2009 at Miami. Wild Card Round. Ravens 27, Dolphins 9. Both teams entered the game in the midst of a renaissance of sorts. Miami won a single game the previous season (against Baltimore nonetheless) and the Ravens were riding a rookie coach and quarterback into the post season. Flacco predictably struggled a bit in his first playoff game but ran for the game-sealing score, Ed Reed had a pick-6 and the Ravens controlled the second half in front of a less than packed house in Miami.
10. Sunday Jan 9, 2011 at Kansas City. Wild Card Round. Ravens 30, Chiefs 7. The Ravens fell behind early after a Jamal Charles 41-yard TD run 7-3. Just before halftime, Ray Rice caught a short pass for a score to put the Ravens up. Thirteen third quarter points put the game away before Willis McGahee put the exclamation point on the victory with a 25-yard TD run in fourth. The Chiefs had gone 4-12 the previous year and the Ravens were in the playoffs for the third straight time. By now, fans were expecting to win these type of games.
9. Sunday Jan 15, 2012 in Baltimore. Divisional Round. Ravens 20, Texans 13. In another weird set of circumstances that set the Ravens up as a touchdown favorite, the Texans came to town sporting third string QB, TJ Yates. It was the first home playoff game for the Ravens in five years. The Ravens defense harassed Houston into 4 turnovers on the day. Baltimore sprinted to 17-3 first quarter lead and turned away the Texans twice in the fourth quarter to advance to the AFC Championship game. Bonus points if you can name who scored the Ravens first touchdown of the day………..third string TE Kris Wilson on a one-yard pass from Flacco on fourth down.
8. Sunday Jan 6, 2013 in Baltimore. Wild Card Round. Ravens 24, Colts 9. Ray Lewis’ final dance at M&T Bank (could there be another in New Orleans on February 3?). It wasn’t Peyton Manning running the Colts offense anymore but Andrew Luck stood tall and tough for Indianapolis. But they weren’t talented enough to take the playoff tested Ravens on Ray’s Day when he returned from a torn triceps muscle and recorded 13 tackles. Flacco made a statement throwing for nearly 300 yards and two scores.
7. Sunday Jan 10, 2010 at New England. Wild Card Round. Ravens 33, Patriots 14. The Ravens came out of the gate and treated the Patriots rudely. Ray Rice scored on the game’s first play. Le’Ron McClain scored a few minutes later. Rice scored again and Billy Cundiff hit a 27-yarder before the first quarter was over. Tom Brady was brutalized by the Ravens defense. Three sacks, three picks and a lost fumble. The big lead forced Brady to air it out to the tune of 42 pass attempts which netted only 154 yards resulting in a 49.1 quaterback rating. Flacco conversely threw 10 times as the Ravens played the last three quarters to run out the clock.
6. Saturday Jan 10, 2009 at Tennessee. Divisional Round. Ravens 13, Titans 10. A renewal of an old rivalry played out just as many expected. Each team scored a touchdown early. A Matt Stover field goal after a long grab by Mark Clayton gave the Ravens an early fourth quarter lead. But the Titans tied it and threatened to take the lead before Alge Crupmler fumbled near the Ravens goal line. The Ravens D forced three turnovers on the day and knocked Chris Johnson out of the game in the first half. If they hadn’t, the result would probably have been different as Johnson had already rushed 11 times for 72 yards and added another 28 through the air. Flacco led a last minute drive to field goal range hitting Todd Heap to cross midfield, then running a draw to McGahee that set up Stover, who never missed a clutch kick that I could remember, for the game winner from 43 yards.
5. Sunday Dec 31, 2000 in Baltimore. Wild Card Round. Ravens 21, Denver 3. Playoff football was back in Baltimore for the first time since the Baltimore Colts on Christmas Eve 1977 (Oakland’s Ghost to the Post victory in double OT which I attended at the ripe old age of 8). This time New Year’s Eve got off to a roaring start when Ray Lewis picked off a Gus Frerotte pass and Jamal Lewis plunged in from 1 yard out early in the second quarter. Before halftime, Shannon Sharpe snared a juggled pass out of the air and sprinted 58 yards for the score. At that time, with that defense, 14 points was usually enough. It was again on this day. Then I hosted a New Years Rockin Eve party of my own at my new house in Jarrettsville that night!
4. Sunday Jan 21, 2001 at Oakland. AFC Championship. Ravens 16, Oakland 3. The final step to Super Bowl XXXV was a tried and true formula for the 2000 Ravens. Shannon Sharpe’s 96 yard score early in the second quarter turned a scoreless game into nearly an unwinnable game for Oakland. They mustered only 191 total yards. Many of them came late in the fourth quarter. Once the Ravens scored their 13th point late in the third, the outcome seemed decided. The next stop was Tampa.
3. Saturday Jan 12, 2013 at Denver. Divisional Round. Ravens 38, Denver 35 2OT. It was one of the great NFL games. It was an instant classic. No game has ever been tied after the first, second, third, fourth AND fifth quarters. It had punt returns, kick returns, long bombs, interception returns all in the first 31 minutes of play. And of course it had Jacoby Jones’ Mile High Miracle with 31 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime. Each team struggled to gain field position in the 5th quarter before Peyton Manning made the final mistake of the game and was intercepted in his own territory. Five plays later, the Ravens stand one victory from the Super Bowl again.
2. Sunday Jan 7, 2001 at Tennessee. Divisional Round. Ravens 24, Titans 10. It may not have been as aesthetically pleasing as the Denver game, but it was played by the two best teams in the league at that time. Each had won on the other’s turf during the regular season and each knew this might be the biggest hurdle on the way to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. There was swagger aplenty on both sidelines. Anthony Mitchell’s 90-yard tie-breaking return of a blocked FG and Ray Lewis’ game sealing 50-yard interception return will be on the All-Time Ravens highlight reel. Only one game could be better….
1. Sunday Jan 28, 2001 in Tampa. Super Bowl XXV. Ravens 34, Giants 7. Simply the best.