The circumstances were slightly different.
The Ravens were just 4-9 at the time and had dropped seven consecutive games. Today, they are 9-3, and if they win out, they’ll win the AFC North and likely earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
But as they prepare for their second December matchup with a winless team in a span of five seasons, at least one Raven couldn’t help but remember the embarrassing 22-16 overtime loss to the Dolphins late in the ’07 season.
“I just remember there was a lot more going on than just what was actually going on in the game,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “I remember I was sick that game. There was just so much going on. I think that game actually got our coach [Brian Billick] fired. That was the nail in the coffin. So it was a lot going on that year and especially that game. But like I said, that’s the past. This is 2011 and this is the ’11 Baltimore Ravens, and we’re moving forward.”
Safety Ed Reed agreed, saying “I don’t think we took them lightly. We never really take a team lightly. This game is different. We’re a different team, different circumstances, different things are on the line. I know Indy’s definitely a team that always plays us tough.”
There are some holdovers, but the Ravens’ personnel is quite different than it was on Dec. 16, 2007, when they exited Dolphins Stadium burdened with the humiliation of blowing a 13-3 third-quarter lead to a winless team and allowing Cleo Lemon to hit Greg Camarillo for a 64-yard touchdown pass in overtime.
Suggs’ memory was right on. A lot did happen before Lemon (who won his first game as a starter since he was at Arkansas State in 2000) connected with Camarillo (who had just one catch all season entering the game) for the decisive score.
Much-maligned quarterback Kyle Boller, who accounted for the Ravens’ lone touchdown with a first-half strike to Derrick Mason, was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter with a concussion. Troy Smith replaced him. Middle linebacker Ray Lewis dislocated his finger in the game, bringing a premature end to his season.
Normally reliable kicker Matt Stover missed a 44-yarder that would have won the game in overtime after he tied the game with 12 seconds left in regulation with an 18-yard field goal. Even that prompted questions because Billick opted to go for the game-tying field goal instead of the win in regulation despite the fact that the Ravens had a 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
After the game, guard Jason Brown said, “We’ve done a great job holding on to pride, but this is a hard blow.”
Always-colorful linebacker Bart Scott had a different take on the game, saying, “Nope, it’s not a low point. It’s two bad football teams playing, and they won.”
The Ravens were beaten by the Seattle Seahawks the following week before they ended a nine-game skid and a 5-11 season with a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. After the season, Billick was dismissed, as was Miami coach Cam Cameron, who went 1-15 in his only season at the helm of the Dolphins. He, of course, is now the Ravens’ offensive coordinator and a perfect sounding board if one of the players wants to know about the desperation of trying to avoid an 0-16 season.
“It’s not something I would want to go through again, but if you are in this league long enough, you probably are to some degree,” Cameron said. “One thing, you better be ready to play. And I know one thing, we’ll be ready.”
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