Jeff Zrebiec, reporter: The Ravens never seem to do anything the easy way, so it probably shouldn't have been all that surprising to see them wait until the final eight minutes of the fourth quarter to seal their playoff berth. I'm sure plenty of time will be spent over the next couple days talking about their playoff chances with how their offense looks totally out of sync and their defense struggles against good quarterbacks. But the fourth quarter showed why the Ravens are still a dangerous team. When Joe Flacco gets hot, the Ravens can move the ball against anybody. And Flacco certainly won't be affected by the playoff stage.
Aaron Wilson, reporter: Behind a nearly flawless fourth-quarter performance from quarterback Joe Flacco with two touchdown passes and the Kansas City Chiefs beating the San Diego Chargers, the Ravens qualified for the playoffs on the final day of the regular season. The Ravens finally woke up from their slumber after a lackluster three quarters to avoid potentially being upset by undrafted rookie quarterback Connor Shaw. It was a win manufactured by a pair of big plays by wide receiver Torrey Smith as he caught a 53-yard pass to set up his game-winning 16-yard touchdown catch from Flacco to stake the Ravens to their first lead of the game. A late interception by cornerback Lardarius Webb, two sacks by outside linebacker Pernell McPhee and some timely rushing yards by Justin Forsett were all key to the win. Now, the Ravens advance to the postseason and they get defensive tackle Haloti Ngata back Monday from a four-game suspension for violating the NFL performance-enhancing drug policy for testing positive for Adderall. They need him with rookie defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan suffering a left foot injury that caused him to be carted off the field.
Mike Preston, columnist: Congrats to the Ravens for making it to the postseason. But instead of expanding the playoffs, the NFL should cut down on the number of teams. Some of these teams are hard to watch (Ravens, hint, hint).
Jon Meoli, reporter: In the span of a few fourth-quarter minutes, it looked like both the Ravens and the San Diego Chargers were going to mount comebacks. Only the Ravens ended up following through, and they get a playoff berth for their effort. For three quarters, the offense couldn't get moving. Then Torrey Smith took over with two catches for 69 yards and a touchdown, and the rest is history. The Ravens’ defense quietly played another strong game, albeit against a rookie quarterback in his first start, and Lardarius Webb’s late interception was a fitting end to the afternoon.
Peter Schmuck, columnist: What an amazing turn of events. For three quarters and change, the Ravens seemed intent on blowing their unlikely opportunity to make the playoffs. The Chiefs were beating the Chargers and the Ravens kept stepping on their own feet. When the Ravens started the game with a penalty, a dropped pass and a bobbled snap on consecutive plays, you had to wonder what was on, but all's well that ends well ... I guess.
Childs Walker, reporter: This sure doesn’t feel like a playoff team, not after three flat offensive performances in three vital games to end the season. The Ravens were extremely fortunate the Browns lacked the firepower to punish them for three quarters of uninspired football. But the Ravens’ defensive front, battered though it was, controlled Cleveland’s rookie quarterback, Connor Shaw. And Joe Flacco played a great fourth quarter just in time to pull his team out of the fire. It’s hard to imagine this team beating good opponents in January. But they’ll worry about that Monday.
Ron Fritz, sports editor: Playoffs? Playoffs? Somehow, yes. But it’s not going to be a long stay. The Ravens are a deeply flawed offensive team, especially with a patchwork line. If they have a slow start in the first-round game, they won’t be able to catch up. After two devastating losses (San Diego and Houston), give credit to this team for winning 10 games and making the playoffs.