So everyone had time to digest just how great the Ravens victory in Mile High was on Saturday afternoon. Some dub it the “Mile High Miracle,” others claim it to be the greatest game in team history, possibly NFL history. There is no shame in being caught in the moment but now with some time passed, everything needs to be put in perspective.
As far as the franchise goes, it actually ranks probably third in my opinion. Of course the Super Bowl comes in as No. 1, with No. 2 being the Divisional game, just a couple weeks before that, in 2001, in Tennessee. You cannot forget that the Titans were to the early Ravens as the Steelers are now; as they were the original rival, which, before the NFL realignment, was the true hated division foe. That Ravens team lost three straight to Tennessee before entering that game, while also beating the Super Bowl favorite on their very own title run.
That got me thinking of where this game actually stands among the all-time greats for the NFL fan (not part of Ravens Nation). Now it belongs in the conversation, but it probably was not even the best game of the weekend. An objective look ranks the “Miracle at Mile High” as No. 8 on my list based on excitement and entertainment vaule for all fans.
The seven games ahead are as follows:
7. Seahawks at Falcons (1/13/13)
The first half was a no show from Seattle, being shut out, with key mistakes in the Red Zone that will cost them in the end. But Russell Wilson led the Seahawks to three 4th Quarter TD’s; erasing the 20 point deficit, with 31 seconds left. That proved to be too much time for Matt Ryan though, as he pushed the Falcons 41 yards (in 23 seconds) into field goal range. Pete Caroll attempted the “freeze the kicker” strategy, which Matt Bryant actually shanked the first attempt. On the second try, Bryant split the uprights with the game winning kick to give Matt Ryan, Mike Smith, Tony Gonzalez and many others their first postseason win.
6. Colts at Giants (12/28/58)
The 1958 NFL Championship was the first ever game to go into overtime, being dubbed “The Greatest Game Ever Played;” and at the time it was. Legends of the football history battled out at Yankee Stadium, including Hall of Famers, Johnny Unitas, Sam Huff, Raymond Barry, Lenny Moore, Frank Gifford and several more. Colts RB, Alan Amache scored on a one yard TD run to make Baltimore World Champions. It sparked the rise of football nationally, being broadcasted across the country by NBC. Without this game, who knows where the NFL would be.
5. Packers at 49ers (1/3/99)
Though it was only a Wild Card game, the two teams were familiar opponents with a lot on the line. It was back and forth throughout, coming down to the last couple drives to determine a victor. Brett Favre connected with Antonio Freeman to take a 27-23 lead with less than a two minutes left. The following drive, Steve Young found J.J. Stokes, Marc Edwards and Jerry Rice with 20 seconds left; giving enough time for a couple shots to the end zone. After a near interception, 8 seconds remained, where Young found Terrell Owens, (before he dubbed himself T.O., who had a terrible game to that point with several dropped passes) in the end zone. Owens wept and San Francisco finished a miraculous comeback.
4. 49ers vs. Bengals (1/22/89)
This was one of the closest Super Bowl’s in the history of the game, as a rematch of the big game seven years earlier. It was a tight defensive battle going into halftime tied 3-3; the first ever tie at the half in Super Bowl history. But after Boomer Esiason led the Bengals to a 16-13 lead with only 3:20 left, Joe Montana had enough time to show off his magic. It was said that Esiason was on the sideline set to do his “I’m going to Disney World” line, while Montana was driving the 49ers 92 yards and connecting with John Taylor in the end zone for the game winning TD, finishing Bill Walsh’s coaching career with his third ring.
3. Bills at Titans (1/8/2000)
The “Music City Miracle” was the greatest finish to a game ever witnessed in NFL history. After the Titans took a 15-13 lead with just under two minutes, Doug Flutie drove the Bills into field goal range, as Steve Christie gave the Bills a 16-15 lead with only seconds left on the clock. That is where Frank Wychek returned the following kickoff (after a handoff by Lorenzo Neal), throwing across the field to Kevin Dyson, who went 75 yards to end the game 22-16. The controversial play will go in infamy, but that victory propelled the Titans to their first Super Bowl appearance.
2. Cardinals vs. Steelers (2/1/09)
This will go down as the greatest Super Bowl since the inception of the championship game. The teams battled back and forth throughout, with the big stars shining including, James Harrison and Larry Fitzgerald coming up with big TD’s. But after Fitzgerald gave the Cardinals the comeback lead, 20-14, with 2:38 left in the game, Big Ben went to work. Roethlisberger drove the Steelers 78 yards, connecting with Santonio Holmes with one of the greatest pass/catch combinations in the back of the end zone.
1. Oilers at Bills (1/3/93)
The game is dubbed “The Comeback,” as the Bills amassed the greatest deficit to lead them to their third straight Super Bowl. The Oilers came out with a 35-3 lead early into the third quarter, and staring down a Bills team without their star QB, Jim Kelly, who left the game earlier with strained knee ligaments. That’s when Frank Reich put Buffalo on his shoulders, scoring 35 unanswered points to take the lead with 3 minutes left in the 4th Quarter. Warren Moon then drove Houston into field goal range, as the Oilers kicked their way into overtime, keeping their hopes alive. But after a Moon interception on the first drive of overtime, the Bills finished “The Comeback,” with a Steve Christie field goal. All this was done with a backup QB at the helm for Buffalo, making it the greatest game in NFL history.
So even though here in Baltimore, the Denver beat down was phenomenal, we have to respect the long history of the game; I have it coming in as the fifth best non-championship and second best Divisional Round game. Embrace the instant classic we all witnessed on Saturday, as the most exciting game any Ravens fan ever witnessed.