Championship teams figure out a way to win those games like the one the Ravens stole from the Vikings on Sunday in snowy Baltimore.
Bad teams like the Vikings – whose star player might have thrown in the towel in the 2nd quarter – produce all kinds of comical ways to lose in a 16-game season. They’ll never author a laugher quite as side-splitting as the one they choked away on Sunday in a 29-26 loss to the Ravens.
The Ravens improved to 7-6 on the season and remained firmly in the AFC playoff race by pulling off a miracle — not once, but twice — at M&T Bank Stadium, getting great assistance from the referees along the way in one of those “better to be lucky than good” kind of outcomes. The refs somehow upheld an early fumble by Minnesota that clearly wasn’t a fumble to anyone with eyes and then, on the game’s final drive, a pass interference penalty that was certainly ticky-tack went Baltimore’s way, paving a snowy path to the end zone with four ticks left on the clock.
It wasn’t just a miracle. It was a season-saver, potentially.
If the Ravens somehow wiggle their way into post-season and then beat a team or two in January to earn a trip to the AFC title game, they’ll look back at the final minute of the game against the Vikings and say, “We were dead…the season was over…but we didn’t give up. And something good happened.”
That something good was their $60 million quarterback, who refused to give in late in the 4th quarter when the Ravens looked all but cooked after a Minnesota TD put them up 12-7.
Flacco led the Ravens downfield late in the contest and connected with long-lost pal Dennis Pitta on a 1-yard TD throw that everyone ASSUMED would be good enough for the win.
But, the Vikings connected on a TD of their own, then Jacoby Jones ran the ensuing kick-off back while the Minnesota kicker played two-hand touch with him along the sidelines.
Over now, right?
Cordarrelle Patterson burned the entire Ravens defensive backfield with a catch and run that gave the visitors yet another lead.
Then, it was up to Flacco to earn his money.
And, he did.
Granted, the Ravens got a fairly soft pass interference call on an interception that would have sealed the game, but no one said the referees were flawless.
With four seconds left, the Super Bowl MVP found Marlon Brown in the end zone and the Ravens were winners.
They didn’t deserve it, honestly.
Anyone watching the game would admit they were vastly outplayed by the Vikings.
The Baltimore defense got shredded like cheese in the prep room at Chipotle in the final two minutes.
But, these games reveal a team’s character.
The Ravens have heart. They showed that a few weeks back against Cincinnati and again on Thanksgiving night when the Steelers came to town and left with their feelings hurt.
The Vikings have nothing under the hood. When you give up three touchdowns in the final two minutes of a football game, you’re a choker, plain and simple.
Speaking of “nothing under the hood”, I saw the replay about five times while I was in the press box and then again another ten times on the DVR when I got home from the game and I don’t see how Adrian Peterson got injured that seriously in the second quarter. He looked a lot like an Italian soccer player rolling around on the ground and grabbing his leg. I’m not saying he threw in the towel — but it might have been an underhanded toss, at the very least. He looked disinterested all game, if you ask me.
It was lucky, no doubt.
Anyone who says it wasn’t isn’t really being honest with themselves.
But that Ravens win over the Vikings on Sunday showed why they’re a championship organization.
They’ll fight you until the end.
And if you can’t take their last punch, you’re losing.