Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Wild, improbable win keeps Ravens in charge of second Wild Card spot

BALTIMORE - When Ravens coach John Harbaugh walked into the post-game interview room about 20 minutes after the game Sunday, a team official asked him if he needed any water before talking to the media.
Harbaugh's response, "I was going to say I need a drink."
Baltimore and the Minnesota Vikings combined to score five touchdowns in the final 2 minutes, 5 seconds Sunday. Each of the first four looked like a likely game-winner at the time. But the fifth, a 9-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Marlon Brown with four seconds remaining, gave the Ravens a 29-26 win and may have saved Baltimore's season.
The Ravens took a 19-15 lead when Dennis Pitta caught a 1-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal with 2:05 left. But the Vikings took the lead back 38 seconds later with a 41-yard Toby Gerhart scoring run. Baltimore went back in front when Jacoby Jones returned the ensuing kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown only for the Vikings to once again retake the lead when rookie wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson turned a screen pass into a 79-yard touchdown just more than 30 seconds later.
But after the Ravens took over possession at their own 20-yard line with 45 seconds left, Flacco completed a 35-yard pass to Brown to move the ball to Minnesota's 45-yard line, benefited from a pass interference call that moved the ball to the Vikings' 27 and eventually threw the game-winning touchdown to Brown.
"I don't know if there has been a crazier minute-and-forty some seconds ever," Flacco said.
Said Jones: "You couldn't even really get emotional. It was too confusing. It'd be like, 'Touchdown, yeah!.' Then it'd be like, 'Whoa, [then] touchdown, yeah, [then] whoa.'"
And all of that was after both teams dealt with heavy snow that effected play during the first half in particular.
But somehow, Baltimore comes out of Sunday 7-6 and still in control of the AFC's second Wild Card spot with just three games left to play.
The Ravens are a long shot at this point to win the division after the Cincinnati Bengals won Sunday and remain two games in front. But with the Miami Dolphins winning to improve to 7-6, Baltimore would have fallen behind the Dolphins for the second Wild Card heading into a stretch where it faces first-place teams in each of its final three games.
"Every game is a must win from here on out to get to where we want to be," defensive tackle Arthur Jones said. "I just kept saying to the guys, 'We're champions.' We believe in that, and you dig deep to pull this out."
And if the Ravens do go on to win another championship, this game will undoubtedly go down as a defining point of their season.
Baltimore has had some crazy stuff happen during the last year or so - the Ray Rice play in San Diego, the game-saving touchdown against the Denver Broncos in the playoffs, the power outage during the Super Bowl and the weather delays in Denver and Chicago - but what happened Sunday was a whole new type of crazy, improbable and unexplainable.
As tight end Ed Dickson said, "This is probably one they'll play on NFL Network for years to come."
"I've never seen a game like that before," outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "Besides the Super Bowl, that's probably the most special win I've ever been a part of."
The Ravens will still be challenged to make the playoffs. They face the New England Patriots in two weeks, the Cincinnati Bengals in three weeks and the Detroit Lions in Detroit on Monday Night Football next week.
"We're literally going into the lion's den," Harbaugh said, "and we understand what that means."
But this is a team that has overcome power outages, lightning storms, injuries, personal tragedy and now snow during the last two years and may be improving just in time to once again be a threat come playoff time.
"We are pretty much battle tested against anything a team can throw against us," Suggs said. "We just keep trucking along. This team is very tough and mentally strong, and this team has a lot of fight in it.
"It's fun to be a part of. We just have to keep staying the course."