Just when you thought only the New England Patriots knew how to conjure magic at the end of games and win no matter what, despite all odds, the Baltimore Ravens string together two of the most unlikely games you’ll ever see against two high-octane NFC teams to hold onto that final playoff spot for dear, sweet, lovely life.
Holy god. What did we just witness?
Is this the resurgence of the Ravens’ season? Is it possible that this team, once 3-5, is actually going to be in the playoffs? They got that look in their eye, Rock. Stats be damned, this team is finding ways. Flacco has eight TDs and eight INTs in his last five games. Rice, while he had his best game of the season against the Vikings, still seems a shadow of himself. Torrey Smith continues to show that Terp genes and blazing speed do not necessarily a #1 receiver make. Stokely lives on the injury report, the line is good for three drive-killing penalties a game, and the defense is statistically elite but prone to breakdowns late.
And, somehow, the Ravens are 8-6. And “are in control of their own destiny,” as everybody and their mom has said/realized with equal admiration and surprise the last few days. After all the bullcrap we’ve gone through this season–the debacle at Denver (where we shouldn’t have had to open), Flacco’s 5-INT performance against the Bills, that gut-punch loss to the Packers at home, our first loss to the Browns in six years, losing a 10-point lead to a backup in Chicago in the snow after an ungodly delay–we could actually roshambo fate itself, just like Justin “Mother” Tucker roshamboed the whole Lions team. (Tucker had more FG yardage  than Flacco and Stafford had passing.) If the Ravens beat the Patriots and Bengals, we not only get the sixth seed but we win the division. LET’S MAKE IT HAPPEN.
I’m done betting against this team. I’m done with the woe-is-us posts too, done counting us out and expecting the worst. It’s fine to be realistic, and realistically this team has a lot of flaws, but what I also just saw was a defense that, on the road, held the best receiver in the game in check, an offense that made the plays it needed most, and special teams that might be extraterrestrial. I’m all aboard. And I haven’t had this much trouble sleeping since Jacoby Jones got behind Rahim Moore 11 months ago.
And Now For Your Enjoyment: It’s Ravens V. Lions! IN GIFS!
Before the game, every Ravens fan secretly felt there was a strong chance that 1) in a dome 2) on the road 3) against a high-octane offense 4) on Monday Night Football 5) in a place where T-Sizzle got ejected eight years ago for having “malice in his heart” 6) after Matt Elam stupidly poked Calvin Johnson the Ravens might get blown out.
And at first it looked like our fears were justified.
LIONS 7, RAVENS 0 JUSTIN TUCKER FIELD GOALS
Reggie Bush scampers around the left edge for a touchdown because Suggs (as he has done often this year) lost contain, and Ravens fans everywhere figure it’s gonna be a long night.
It’s a fast-moving game, though, thanks to the fact that Detrah seems happy to rush for 3-4 yards a pop and we, of course, are committed to running on first down (almost always) and running on second down (always always) if the play on first down didn’t work. Maybe there’s a chance we could sneak through a quick-moving game for a win…?
LIONS 7, RAVENS 1 JUSTIN TUCKER FIELD GOAL
Calvin Johnson is dropping passes??? He got dem OLD MAN HANDS!
Yet another reason for us to irrationally believe we’ll leave Detroit with a W!
AND THE REFS ARE ON OUR SIDE
Defenders are hitting our guys in the head and getting called for it? And not playing the ball and getting called for it??? Holy crap! The Ravens truly have joined that elite group! Now we know what it feels like to be a Colt, Bronco, Patriot, or Steeler fan!
(Gross. Winning, but gross.)
LIONS 7, RAVENS 2 JUSTIN TUCKER FIELD GOALS
But we keep settling for field goals.
Why? WHY??? THIS WILL COME BACK TO HAUNT US. The Ravens can’t consistently block, run, pass, or catch well, I know, but why are we always good enough to move with some energy between the 20s/30s only to bog down at the edge of field goal range? IS THAT BY DESIGN? At this point we’re the opposite of the New York Jets. Does that make you proud, Caldwell?
LIONS 7, RAVENS 3 JUSTIN TUCKER FIELD GOALS
Thanks to another flag on the Lions, the Ravens “march” down the field (or do something kind of resembling that) to score right before halftime.
It’s another drive stall and yet another example of Harbaugh’s questionable clock usage, but at least we got some points, right? True story: If someone had asked me if I’d take being up 9-7 at the half in Detroit against a supposedly pissed off Megatron, I’d have taken it. Ravens fans are temporarily passably happy.
LIONS 7, RAVENS 4 JUSTIN TUCKER FIELD GOALS
But when the Ravens put up three more, Megatron seems to finally heat up after being held catchless in the first half.
He’s the best receiver on earth so it figured he’d make plays eventually, but why would Pees change what was working? Pro-tip: Don’t switch to zone with a free release after you’ve held the best offensive playmaker not named Aaron Rodgers in check for half the game by playing man and press.
LIONS 10, RAVENS 4 JUSTIN TUCKER FIELD GOALS
Lions probably shoulda got seven this drive, but the refs missed/didn’t call a pretty clear armbar by Webb on a Lions receiver in the end zone.
While I acknowledge that wasn’t fair, Lions, and I’mma let you finish, crap no-calls like that happen to the Ravens many times every game, so I literally have no fucks to give.
LIONS 10, RAVENS 5 JUSTIN TUCKER FIELD GOALS
Daryl Smith picks off Stafford! (And, seriously, watching this guy? You see why Detroit has the second-most turnovers in the lig. That side-armed softball pitch is cringe-worthy.) But, of course, because this is the Ravens and when opportunity knocks we go, “Hey! The FUCK are you doing here!” and go Kevin from Home Alone on it and try to burn it alive, we proceed to get zero yards on a drive that started at the Lions’ 35.
Adding insult to injury, Flacco gets hit in the leg by a Lions defender (on a penalty that should’ve been called as much as the Webb armbar, though Gruden and Tirico aren’t nearly as indignant) and is seen flailing/grabbing onto Rice like he’s been shot. Holy god. Just kick the field goal already.
LIONS 16, RAVENS 5 JUSTIN TUCKER FIELD GOALS
You knew it would happen.
The Ravens squandered one too many chances and the Lions finally exploded for a drive they made look pretty easy (against a defense that tends to its VERY BEST FOLDING! in the fourth quarter). A few passes to Megatron (who takes some big shots and looks like he’s not accustomed to being bullied), a “catch” by Pettigrew (my personal opinion: he lost control when his hand bent behind his back), and a tough catch by Fauria later and we are down by one.
BUT THERE ARE TWO BRIGHT SPOTS
One: They didn’t get the two-point conversion.
Two: We have Joseph Vincent Flacco, who’s better at being Eli Manning than Eli Manning is.
Ravens fans make a collective “OK, that’s how you wanna play it?” smugface and hook up the chinstraps. It’s go time.
CRIPPLED OR NOT, FLACCO EATS FUCKIN’ 3RD AND 15 FOR FUCKIN’ BREAKFAST
Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones.
Count on it when you need it most.
BUT THEN WE SQUANDER THE NEXT TWO PLAYS
And on 3rd and 10 from the Lions’ 45, the Ravens shotgun draw up the middle with Rice for three yards. Um. WAT.
Oh Jesus. This is either gonna be 4th and 7 or a 61-yard field goal.
Either way, I’m about to be really sad, aren’t I?
OH GOD. THEY’RE GOING FOR THE 61-YARD FIELD GOAL. JESUS SAVE ME WHAT IS THIS LIFE.
Are we actually doing this? Mother of Christ, we’re doing this. Tucker is actually lining up and …
Oh. It’s bending toward the right.
Well, we tried. It’s OK. I’m OK with this. We had a good run, even if our playoffs hopes are now ov…
Wait a second.
Did that kick just … sneak in?
LIONS 16, RAVENS 6 GOTDAMN JUSTIN TUCKER FIELD GOALS
#LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON #LEGATRON
“MARRY ME, JUSTIN TUCKER.”
– Every Ravens fan of every gender and sexual orientation
WAIT … THERE’S STILL TIME ENOUGH FOR US TO CRAP THE BED
We’re only up by two and they have all three timeouts and 35 seconds to get into field goal range.
It’s all on you, D. Please … please, I’m begging you … that kick … it can’t have been for nothing … It just can’t … I beseech you, gods old and new. Just let them hold FOR MY FREAKING FRAGILE SANITY.
STAFFORD ENDS IT BY THROWING HIS THIRD PICK
And of all people to catch it: MATT ELAM!!!
What a scholar. What a gentleman. Bless you, Matt Elam, for backing up your trash talk with your first career interception.
This cannot be actual reality. I’m in the Matrix now. BECAUSE THE BALTIMORE RAVENS ARE STILL IN THE PLAYOFFS THANKS TO THEIR SECOND-YEAR UNDRAFTED KICKER MAKING THE 2ND-LONGEST KICK IN MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL HISTORY.
EVERY RAVENS FAN WATCHES ESPN/NFL NETWORK/WBAL NONSTOP FOR THE NEXT 2 HOURS
Ravens games are taking years off my life. … But I like it that way.