Ravens' #97 Michael Pierce in disbelief after the Cincinnati Bengals scored a late fourth-quarter touchdown to take the lead and beat the Ravens. Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals NFL football at M&T Bank Stadium.
Ravens' #97 Michael Pierce in disbelief after the Cincinnati Bengals scored a late fourth-quarter touchdown to take the lead and beat the Ravens. Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals NFL football at M&T Bank Stadium. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

On New Year’s Eve, the Ravens were leading the Cincinnati Bengals by three points with less than a minute left in the game.

With the wind chill in the single digits, I could not feel my fingertips. Holding a camera when the temperature is that cold is like holding an ice cube.

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The Ravens were one play away from heading back to the playoffs for the first time in three years. The defense had to make just one more stop of the Bengals offense, and the celebration would begin.

The Bengals had the ball and were heading away from my assigned end of the field. My colleague Karl Merton Ferron was covering the other end.

I decided to commit to taking celebration pictures. I ditched the long lens on the sidelines and grabbed my wide angle (17-35mm) and my zoom (70-200mm) lens and stood next to the Ravens’ bench, waiting for the party to begin.

I knew I had a few decent photos of “jubo,” short for jubilation, as we like to call them. Anything I shot at this point would add to what I already had.

Left, Ravens' #99 Matthew Judon celebrates his second-half sack of Bengals' quarterback, Andy Dalton. Right, Ravens' #17 Mike Wallace celebrates his fourth-quarter touchdown reception.
Left, Ravens' #99 Matthew Judon celebrates his second-half sack of Bengals' quarterback, Andy Dalton. Right, Ravens' #17 Mike Wallace celebrates his fourth-quarter touchdown reception. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun)

What happened next would make all of my Ravens’ photos, of touchdowns, sacks and “jubo,” irrelevant.

The Bengals scored on a 49-yard touchdown pass. Instead of documenting an explosion of leaping players on the sidelines, I captured the shear disbelief on their faces as they watched their season come to a crashing end.

The storyline had changed in a matter of seconds, and instead of the thrill of victory, I was shooting the agony of defeat.

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