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Instant analysis: The most heartbreaking loss in Ravens history

Kevin Van Valkenburg, staff writer: I think it's probably fair to call this the most heartbreaking loss in Ravens history. If Lee Evans puts two hands on a perfectly-thrown touchdown pass, the Ravens are going to the Super Bowl. If Billy Cundiff makes an easy field goal, they're still fighting in overtime. Other than one interception, Joe Flacco played the game of his life. He absolutely carried his team. But it wasn't enough, and now begins the longest offseason in team history. I'm still a little speechless.

Peter Schmuck, columnist: The Ravens and their fans are going to be replaying this one in their minds for a long time. If Lee Evans could have held on just a split-second longer. If the Ravens had done more with their takeover opportunities. If, if, if. If nothing else, this should quiet all the silly debate about Joe Flacco being a big-game quarterback. He did enough to get it done.

Ron Fritz, Head of sports: Somewhere along the way, you knew a special teams mistake was going to cost someone. The Ravens have been so brutal this year on special teams, you thought it would be them. When Danny Woodhead fumbled a kickoff for the Patriots, you thought maybe it was the special teams mistake for the game. But Billy Cundiff one-upped him. One of the worst-looking kicks you’ll ever see. This loss especially hurts because the Ravens went toe-to-toe with the Patriots in Foxborough.

Chris Korman, Ravens editor: I can't help but wonder, as I sit in the neon-lit, nearly empty Sun office, of the emotions running through this city and region. As soon as Billy Cundiff's foot hit the ball, you could tell. When you saw the way his body turned, the way the torque carried through more than it should have, you knew. And that's the thing about football: it is the most brutal game on earth, and, given the scheming of the sophisticated modern game, often the most intricate. But it can also come down to this: One guy booting a leather, oblong ball through two yellow posts spread 18 feet and six inches apart. For Ravens fans -- from Dundalk through Canton, all the way from Fells up to Mt. Vernon and Hampden, and in Westminster and Columbia and so many other places -- one play from today will resonate. The Ravens did so many things right. Their heroes -- Lewis and Reed and Flacco and Boldin -- made so many plays. Then, they joined the fans and stood and watched it end so abruptly.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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