Baltimore Ravens

Game 11: Bouncing back

Once feeling like a team divided, the Ravens spent the final seconds of yesterday's game knelt in unison, holding hands along the sideline.

When Matt Stover's 42-yard field goal sailed through the uprights, there were collective tears of joy and relief as a Ravens team that stuck together had won together, reveling in a raucous 44-41 overtime victory over the Seattle Seahawks at a less-than-full M&T Bank Stadium.

By the end - when offense, defense and special teams were all needed in the torrid comeback - they may finally have become a team.

"I think this day was a defining moment for our team," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "We never stopped believing in each other. I truly believe in my heart that we grew up as a family."

Down by 17 points a minute into the fourth quarter, the Ravens delivered the biggest comeback in franchise history, soaring on the wings of a blocked punt, defensive stands and the revival of the league's worst passing attack.

In his second start for the Ravens, Anthony Wright directed a 55-yard drive in overtime, connecting with his favorite target, Marcus Robinson, for 19 yards on a third-and-15 play to set up Stover for the winner with 6:32 left in the extra session. It was Robinson's seventh catch, including a team-record four touchdowns.

The unlikeliest of finishes stopped a two-game skid and kept the Ravens (6-5) tied with the Cincinnati Bengals atop the AFC North. In beating the Seahawks (7-4), it marked the Ravens' second victory over a team with a winning record this season.

"I think we found ourselves," said Wright, who set career highs with 319 yards passing and four touchdowns. "It shows us the kind of character we have. It shows the world the kind of character we have."

Before the Ravens found themselves, they had to endure an identity crisis.

In the first half, their offense couldn't reach the end zone, not even when it was set up 3 yards from the goal line. In the second half, their defense couldn't keep the Seahawks from the end zone, not even when it had Seattle pinned its own territory.

When the Ravens joined together at the end, they were unstoppable.

Ed Reed's 16-yard touchdown return off his own blocked punt ignited the historic rally, closing the Ravens to within 41-31 with 6:41 left in the game.

After linebacker Ray Lewis stripped Seattle fullback Mack Strong, the Ravens marched 71 yards on a drive capped by Wright's 9-yard pass to Robinson.

The most defiant stop came in the final minute of regulation when Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was stuffed on a fourth-and-one at the Ravens' 33-yard line. Six-foot-7, 360-pound offensive tackle Orlando Brown lined up at nose tackle and combined to stonewall the Seahawks.

"They didn't move me," Brown said. "There was no way they got it."

The Ravens moved inside field-goal range with the help of a 44-yard pass interference penalty, one of the few flags that has benefited them. Stover's 40-yard field goal at the end of regulation tied the game at 41.

After the Ravens' defense forced Seattle to punt in the opening drive of overtime - which included a brief appearance by their Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer - the Ravens' offense went back to work.

Wright, who was filling in for injured starter Kyle Boller, started the pivotal drive with an 8-yard scramble and then connected on two of three passes for 29 yards to pave the way for the game-winning field goal.

It was an improbable comeback considering the Ravens' offense extended a touchdown drought to 130 minutes, 24 seconds through halftime. Wright then transformed a first half of futility with a second half of wizardry, throwing his four touchdown passes to a leaping Robinson in a matter of 26 minutes.

"We just let them [the defense] know we got their back," Robinson said, "and now they know that."

There was no such confidence at halftime.

The Ravens surrendered two touchdowns in the final 23 seconds of the first half. The last was set up when the Ravens chose to hand off to Chester Taylor, whose fumble was returned to the Ravens' 10, instead of kneeling.

"You could tell there was tension in the locker room," Robinson said. "The offense wasn't doing well and the defense was playing well. We're all human. But today, we said we were going to be a family. That was preached all week, being accountable to your brother."

The Ravens, whose defense was burnt for a team-record five passing touchdowns, were accountable late. They buckled down in the fourth quarter and overtime, shutting Seattle out for the last 22 minutes, 44 seconds of the game.

"Nobody wanted to come back and look at someone and say, 'Damn, I let you guys down,'" cornerback Chris McAlister said.

The pressure was felt by Wright on and off the field.

Moments after delivering the memorable comeback, Wright had to deal with a delivery of another kind: His wife, Nicole, was expected to give birth to the couple's second child.

"She's waiting for me right now," Wright said.

Wright was not the only one in a hurry. When the Ravens trailed 41-24 early in the fourth quarter, over one-third of the sellout crowd of 69,477 left the stadium.

"Postseason aside, this might be the most exciting game in this stadium," Ravens president David Modell said. "I was happy to see that those fans that left in the third quarter decided to return in the fourth and they got a payoff. They helped us. That's as loud as I've heard this stadium since the Denver [playoff] game."

As for the players, the seemingly insurmountable deficit became their rallying point.

"We needed this one in the biggest way," left guard Edwin Mulitalo said. "We needed this type of win. We needed a win that was going to test our will. That's what was tested today. Obviously, we passed."