AFC North: Baltimore Ravens
Just like Johnson suggested, Elam isn't the one lining up across from Megatron every play. That's the job for Smith and Webb. And it's a job that just got tougher after Elam curiously accused the 28-year-old Johnson as being old when he's actually in his prime.
"I'll show him what that old man's strength about," Johnson said in a conference call Thursday with Baltimore reporters.
Gulp. If I'm Smith or Webb, I went up to Elam this morning, saying, "What were you thinking, rookie?"
Look at Johnson's receiving yards for his past four home games: 115, 329, 115 and 101. Now, Johnson is talking about how he puts all the negative comments in "a box" and uses it for motivation on game days.
Part of the problem is Elam has never faced Johnson on the field. Smith and other Ravens certainly have. It was the 2012 preseason when the Ravens allowed Johnson to catch five passes for 111 yards and one touchdown -- and that was in less than one full half of work.
Elam, a free safety who often lines up 15 yards off the line, won't have to to see Johnson unless, as the receiver puts it, is running past him. This has been a problem for the Ravens, who have allowed a league-worst 16 passes over 40 yards.
How do the Ravens plan to slow down Johnson? Elam alluded to playing press coverage on Johnson because older receivers aren't going to be as physical. Saying Johnson isn't physical is like saying Ndamukong Suh isn't a nasty player.
Jimmy Smith is scheduled to speak to the Baltimore media later Thursday afternoon. My guess is he'll be extremely complimentary of Johnson. It's something Smith wished Elam would have done earlier this week. Monday night just became a lot more challenging for any Ravens cornerback trying to slow down Johnson.
But during the most important part of the game, there have been few better than Flacco this season.
Flacco's 82.1 Total QBR in the fourth quarter is third among quarterbacks with more than seven starts. Only Andrew Luck (83.4) and Manning (82.6) are ahead of him. Flacco's eight touchdowns in the fourth quarter are second only to Manning's 10.
Flacco can look so pedestrian for most of the game and then look so brilliant when the game is on the line. In Sunday's thrilling 29-26 win over the Minnesota Vikings, Flacco threw three interceptions on the Ravens' first 13 drives before delivering touchdown passes on two of their final three possessions, including the game winner with four seconds remaining.
Why does it seem that Flacco plays his best at the end of games?
"I think we’ve had so much experience in tight games and in big, meaningful games, that when we do get in situations where we have to play well down in the crunch time, the situation isn’t too big for us," Flacco said. "We’re able to relax and just play football as we always would, whereas if you’re not in those situations a lot and you start to think about the consequences of what happens if you don’t do what you should do, that’s when the situation can get too big and can overwhelm some people."
It's interesting that Flacco continually said "we," meaning it's the success of the team and not just him. But the Ravens have relied heavily on the poise of Flacco, who has produced winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in three of Baltimore's past five wins.
Flacco has received a lot of criticism because his overall numbers don't reflect his $120.6 million contract. He is tied for the third-most interceptions thrown this season (17) and ranks 30th in passer rating (77.0).
To find his best numbers, you need to look at crunch time. Flacco's best quarter this season has been the fourth, and it isn't even close. He has thrown for more yards (913) and has a higher completion rate (66.1 percent) in the fourth quarter than in any other quarter. His eight touchdowns in the fourth quarter are twice as many as in any other quarter this season.
On Monday night, Flacco faces a Detroit Lions defense that has been reeling in the fourth quarter. The Lions have given up the second-most points in the fourth quarter this season (112).
In Sunday's win, when Flacco had to put the Ravens in the lead twice, he barely said a word, which is comforting to those in the huddle with him. In workmanlike fashion, he completed seven of his final 10 passes for 62 yards and two touchdowns (passer rating of 125.8).
"He said, ‘Let’s go,’ and that’s the way he is. That’s the kind of guy you want to be in battle with," running back Ray Rice said. "In these types of situations, there is no teetering from Joe Flacco. He lined us up, got the play called, lined us up again, and it was his show. That’s Joe Flacco right there.”
There is always going to be a running debate about whether Flacco is elite. But Flacco is clutch, and it's hard to dispute otherwise.
In an interview with the Associated Press and Comcast SportsNet, Elam called Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson "pretty old." Yes, it seems that Megatron has been around forever. But he's 28 years old. Elam is only six years younger.
Does anyone remember what happened to Dallas? Two months ago, Cowboys WR Dez Bryant said he was just as good a receiver as Johnson. The result: Johnson put up 329 yards receiving against the Cowboys, the second-biggest receiving game in NFL history.
In other words, don't make Megatron mad.
I'm at a loss why Elam would even say such a thing. He's wrong on both accounts. Johnson is not old and he's very physical. It's one thing to take a shot. It's another to take a shot and be so wildly off the mark. He'll likely find that out under the bright lights of "Monday Night Football." If Elam thinks Johnson is old, I can't wait to hear what he thinks of Tom Brady the following week.
The strange part is that Elam has been so reserved with reporters. But these comments certainly won't go over well with Johnson. Can you imagine the 5-foot-10 Elam trying to defend the 6-foot-5 Johnson in the open field? What about the 210-pound Elam trying to tackle the 236-pound Johnson?
This all started when a reporter brought up that Johnson is a physical receiver.
"He's pretty old, so I don't know how physical he'll be,'' Elam said. "He's a big guy, but he's older. I guess when they get older they're not going to be as physical, you know what I'm saying? We're going to have to be physical, make him uncomfortable.''
This is the same Elam who has broken up just two passes this year and has yet to intercept a pass. This is the same rookie who has allowed an average of 18.5 yards per completion against him, according to Pro Football Focus.
The Ravens' first-round draft pick has been a mild disappointment because he's playing out of position (he's been playing free safety but is more of a strong safety). On Wednesday, he simply was out of line.
Elam was complimentary of Johnson, describing him as "big, fast, athletic, unstoppable, freak."
That's where he should have stopped. Calling Johnson "pretty old" just shows how young Elam is. And it's something he'll regret come Monday night.
John Eisenberg, a longtime and respected columnist who writes for the team's official website, made a case for Monday night's game at Detroit as being the toughest one remaining on the Ravens' schedule.
Matt Stafford, and football’s best receiver, Calvin Johnson," Eisenberg writes. "They put up a lot of points, especially at home, and frequently get into 'track meet' games – not exactly the Ravens' sweet spot this year with their offense ranked in the bottom third of the league in yardage and points."
While all of this is true, I would contend that the Lions game is the easiest one left on the schedule. The Lions have tons of talent, but they lack discipline and have lost three of their past four games. Detroit hasn't been dominant at home, either. The Lions have lost twice there, including to last-place Tampa Bay, and they almost fell at home to Dallas.
Playing against Tom Brady and then in Cincinnati, where Joe Flacco and the Ravens have struggled, appear to be bigger challenges on paper.
What are your thoughts on the Ravens' final three games? After you record your vote, send a comment to the mailbag by clicking right here. It could be used on the Ravens blog later this week.
The Ravens have a 36.9 percent chance of reaching the postseason. Miami, at 52.9 percent, is the favorite for the conference's second wild-card spot.
It's an Insider post, but here's an excerpt of what Football Outsiders wrote:
"Baltimore's remaining schedule includes three prospective playoff teams (Detroit, New England, Cincinnati), including two of the top three seeds in the AFC. Baltimore's 1.0 projected wins over the final three weeks ranks 30th in the league, and the Ravens figure to be underdogs in each of their remaining games."
The Dolphins' final three games are home against New England, at Buffalo and home against the New York Jets.
Here's the rest of your wake-up caw ...
- Wide receiver Torrey Smith told Fox Sports that throwing snowballs at the Vikings on Sunday was "not a proud moment of our fans because we feel like we have the best fans in the league. It wasn’t all of them, but we’re better than that. We know that and we got to do better.”
- The Baltimore Sun's Mike Preston has a theory on why quarterback Joe Flacco plays so well at the end of games. "Flacco clearly plays better the less he thinks," Preston wrote.
- Our friends at Pro Football Focus came out with its assessment of Sunday's game against the Vikings. Flacco was the highest-graded player on offense, and safety James Ihedigbo was tops on defense. The lowest-graded players were tight end Ed Dickson and inside linebacker Jameel McClain.
- Assistant offensive-line coach Todd Washington has been offered the job coaching the offensive line at USC, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Preseason: 8 | Last Week: 14 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002
The Baltimore Ravens (7-6) didn't move up despite winning their third straight game, marking their longest winning streak of the season. The Ravens had climbed six spots after beating the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers. While their finish against the Minnesota Vikings was historic, it wasn't good enough to budge the Ravens from the No. 14 spot.
The only movement around Baltimore came as a result of the "Monday Night Football" game. The Chicago Bears jumped ahead of the Ravens, and the Dallas Cowboys fell below them. It's understandable that the Bears are ahead of the Ravens because they beat them last month.
Just like the AFC playoff standings, the Ravens are No. 6 among AFC teams in the Power Rankings. It's the Ravens' third straight week in the top half of the rankings after spending four consecutive weeks in the bottom half. As one of six voters on the Power Rankings, I had the Ravens at No. 14 as well.
As far as the AFC North goes, the Cincinnati Bengals remained at No. 8 for the fourth straight week, the Cleveland Browns moved up two spots to No. 25 following their near-victory at New England and the Steelers dropped one spot to No. 19.
The Ravens (7-6), who hold the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC, play two of their final three games on the road: at the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions (7-6) next Monday night and at the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals (9-4) in the regular-season finale.
This is going to be a tough challenge for a Ravens team that is 1-5 this season on the road and has already lost at two last-place teams (Buffalo and Cleveland). The Ravens haven't had this many road losses since 2009.
Why have the Ravens been so dominant at home (6-1 record) and so dismal on the road?
"I think we have won the close games at home and we didn't win them on the road. That's the bottom line," coach John Harbaugh said. "So, we've done the things that we've needed to do to win tight games at home and we haven't done the things we needed to do on the road. It's us. It's what we've done, the plays we've made or haven't made that have made the difference."
Take away the season-opening blowout at Denver, and the Ravens have lost their last four games on the road by a total of 15 points:
- In the 23-20 loss at Buffalo, Joe Flacco's career-worst fifth interception with 57 seconds remaining came with the Ravens 10 yards away from field-goal range.
- In the 19-16 loss at Pittsburgh, the Ravens allowed a 44-yard kickoff return after they had just tied the game, and the Steelers kicked the winning field goal as time expired.
- In the 24-18 loss at Cleveland, the Ravens' defense allowed the Browns to run off 6 1/2 minutes on their final drive and Flacco never took a deep shot after getting the ball back with 14 seconds left in the game.
- In the 23-20 overtime loss at Chicago, the Ravens couldn't punch the ball in the end zone despite three plays inside the 6-yard line at the end of regulation and gave up a 43-yard pass to tight end Martellus Bennett in overtime.
Now, the Ravens head to Detroit's Ford Field, where the Lions are 4-2 this season. This is the first time the Ravens have played in a dome since winning the Super Bowl at the Superdome.
"The crowd noise is going to be a factor," Harbaugh said. "It's 'Monday Night Football.' It's going to be loud. It's a hugely important game for both teams. It's a great place to play and it's going to be a huge challenge for us. It's literally going to be the Lions' den."
Here are some other notes from Harbaugh's Monday news conference:
Harbaugh said he's hopeful that pass rusher Elvis Dumervil will play next week after missing his first game of the season. Dumervil is dealing with an ankle bruise. "He looks pretty good today," Harbaugh said. … The Ravens don't sound optimistic that wide receiver Brandon Stokley will play against the Lions. He left the game with a concussion in the fourth quarter and didn't return. "Unfortunately, he's had a number of those in his career, so that could be problematic," Harbaugh said. … In response to Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who criticized the Ravens' fan base for throwing snowballs, Harbaugh said, "Who doesn't throw snowballs when it snows?"
It was less than five months ago when Pitta dislocated his hip on the first contact practice of training camp. Ravens coach John Harbaugh originally declared Pitta out for the season, and Pitta actually feared the worst.
"I remember when I got injured, I didn’t know if I was even going to play football again," said Pitta, who was activated from the injured reserve-designated for return list. "So being able to stand here and talk about a victory and being a part of that is special for me. And just being a part of this team and being able to fight the way we did today is pretty remarkable.”
Pitta didn't simply play "a part" in the Ravens' third straight victory. He led the charge, finishing with six catches for 48 yards.
With the Ravens trailing by five points (12-7) with about four minutes remaining, Pitta converted a third-down in the red zone with a six-yard catch, and put Baltimore back ahead four plays later with a one-yard touchdown reception on fourth-and-goal.
Going back to the sideline, Pitta was met with a big bug from coach John Harbaugh.
"I think we all appreciate Dennis Pitta being back and what he means to our team," Harbaugh said. "When you see the work a guy puts in in rehab in this league to get back from an injury like that, then you appreciate a moment like that.”
Pitta had a slow start, which is understandable for a player who hadn't suited up since the Super Bowl. He dropped one pass -- which is virtually unheard of for a tight end who had three drops in his previous two seasons -- and had a slightly off-target throw go off his fingertips.
It took four passes to Pitta for quarterback Joe Flacco to finally connect with his one-time security blanket. The "Pitta is finally back" moment came midway through the third quarter, when Pitta made a diving six-yard catch in which he stretched out horizontally to make the grab.
In just one game, Pitta showed the Ravens what they've been missing with him being on the sidelines for the first 13 weeks of the season. He moved the chains with two third-down catches and delivered a touchdown in the red zone.
"I felt good throughout the game and didn’t think about my hip, which is encouraging going forward," Pitta said. "[I] was able to just go out and play.”
This was reminiscent of the past. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Flacco has completed 75 percent of his attempts to Pitta in the red zone the past two seasons, but only 44.6 percent to all other Ravens (including playoffs).
"There is some kind of a chemistry there between those two guys that is probably hard to explain," Harbaugh said of Flacco and Pitta.
Flacco and Pitta are good friends, and it comes through on the field and in the locker room. Asked about Pitta's game, Flacco couldn't help to take a playful jab, saying, "He looked a little goofy on a couple catches."
It looked like the same old Pitta in the final minute of the game. On the winning drive, he drew an 18-yard pass interference penalty and caught an 18-yard pass, which set up the touchdown pass to Marlon Brown.
"Obviously, he’s going to get better and better as the weeks go on," Flacco said. "He’s a huge player for us. He knows how to get open, he knows how to run routes, and he catches the football. He means a lot.”
The Ravens' 29-26 win over the Minnesota Vikings was Flacco's 61st in the regular season. This moved him over Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who had 60 victories in his first six seasons (2004 to 2009).
While Flacco doesn't put up the passing numbers of a $100 million quarterback, he continues to excel in the category that most quarterbacks are judged by -- wins.
"Joe [Flacco] is our guy, and to me, that’s all you really need to say," coach John Harbaugh said after Sunday's game. "I love him, and I respect him, and I think he is a great player. I always have.”
Flacco set the wins mark in dramatic fashion. He did so by producing his 18th career game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime.
After the Vikings took back the lead for the third time, Flacco drove the Ravens 80 yards in the final 45 seconds for the victory.
Was it difficult for Flacco not to get swept up in the see-saw of emotions?
"You get a little bit low, but it’s more just shock," said Flacco, who finished 28-of-50 for 245 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. "Rather than low, you get pissed [thinking], ‘Are you kidding me? How did this happen?’ You take the field, and you see what you can do. Was it unlikely that we win this game today? Probably, but we did.”
Before the Ravens drafted Flacco in the first round of the 2008 draft, they went through 15 starting quarterbacks in the franchise's first 12 years of existence. No Ravens quarterback before Flacco won more than 20 games.
Flacco has been the Ravens' only starting quarterback for the past six seasons and improved his regular-season record to 61-32.
- The Ravens-Vikings game was the first in NFL history with five go-ahead touchdowns in the final 2 minutes, 30 seconds of the fourth quarter.
- It was the first game in NFL history with six lead changes in the fourth quarter.
- The 36 combined points were the most in the final two and a half minutes of a game over the last 50 years. (The previous high was 24 points, by the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans in 2004.)
“I’ve never played in a game like that," Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith said. "I’ve never even played a video game like that. That’s probably the craziest thing I’ve ever been a part of.”
Here's a full blow-by-blow account of the wild finish between the Ravens and Vikings.
The more appropriate question is this: Do you finally believe in quarterback Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens? If you watched the final minutes of Sunday's unforgettable comeback, it's difficult to say no.
And, honestly, it doesn't matter what you or I think about the Ravens. What's important is this team is starting to believe. A teetering 4-6 team a month ago has turned into a confident 7-6 one.
It's officially time to stop counting out Flacco and the Ravens. How many "miracles" need to happen before you're convinced? There's no disputing this is a team with flaws. But this is also a team that plays its best when the odds are stacked against it. All you have to do is google "Hey diddle diddle, Ray Rice up the middle" and "Mile High Miracle."
Sure, a blowout victory over a last-place team that played without the NFL's leading rusher would've been more of a statement. But there is something to be said for a team to experience something like this -- again.
"It probably makes you tough. It probably makes you resilient," coach John Harbaugh said. "It probably puts a lot of callouses all over your psyche and your character. When you’ve got callouses on your character, that’s probably a good thing in the end.”
No one is anointing the Ravens as a Super Bowl contender, but for the first time, they're showing playoff mettle. The Ravens have won three straight games and are finding out how to pull out close games again.
There are still season-long problems like Flacco's interceptions and the defense's inability to get the other team off the field late in games. The Ravens are winning now because they're finding ways to overcome their mistakes.
After throwing three interceptions, Flacco completed 7 of his final 10 passes for 62 yards and two touchdowns. Down 26-22 with 45 seconds left, Flacco marched the Ravens 80 yards on five plays. Flacco's nine-yard touchdown pass to Marlon Brown with four seconds left marked his 18th career game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime, and his third of this season.
If you didn't think Flacco and the Ravens had that final drive in them, you're not alone.
"[The Vikings] probably thought it was over, and I’m not going to lie, part of me thought it was over at that point, too," Jimmy Smith said. "For Joe Flacco and the offense to go back down and score the way they did, it just says a lot about them.”
What's confounding about Flacco is he can look so pedestrian for most of the game and so brilliant late in it. His second interception of the game, a low-lining pass that should've been thrown out of bounds, resulted in a touchdown for the Vikings. But, when the game was on the line, Flacco throws his best pass of the game, putting the ball only where Brown could leap up and get it.
"This game was crazy and we could’ve lost it, but we’re a confident football team," Flacco said. "We’re starting to get healthier. We’re starting to put it together as a team. We just need to start putting it together for a full 60 minutes and see where it takes us.”
Of all of the Ravens' comebacks, this one made you doubt them the most. In the final 125 seconds, the Ravens needed touchdowns from a fourth-and-goal pass to tight end Dennis Pitta, a 77-yard kickoff return by Jacoby Jones and a last-second toss to Brown in the back of the end zone to keep control of their playoff fate. There were seven lead changes in the game, including five in the final 2 minutes, 5 seconds.
Was this game crazier than the Mile High Miracle? That was last season's AFC divisional playoff game in Denver when Flacco thew a high-arcing 70-yard pass to Jacoby Jones with 31 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.
“I think this is probably crazier," Flacco said. "That one was probably a little more exciting, just because of what was on the line. But when you look at this, similar things were on the line, just not at the same time of year. In the time period that Jacoby [Jones] scored that touchdown in the Denver game, I think we probably scored three touchdowns in this game.”
The Ravens finish out the season with three games against division leaders: the Detroit Lions (7-6), New England Patriots (10-3) and Cincinnati Bengals (9-4). It would be easy to doubt whether the Ravens can make the playoffs with such a brutal stretch. And, based on Sunday, that's probably how the Ravens would like it anyway.
The Ravens took late-fourth-quarter leads on touchdowns from tight end Dennis Pitta and kickoff returner Jacoby Jones, but it wasn't until Joe Flacco hit Marlon Brown in the back of the end zone with four seconds remaining that Baltimore could finally breathe a sigh of relief.
"Will we ever see another game like that again?" Ravens coach John Harbaugh asked after the game.
It's going to be hard to top a finish that included five touchdowns in the final 125 seconds:
- With 2:05 remaining, the Ravens went ahead 15-12 on a 1-yard pass from Flacco to Pitta (in his first game back since dislocating his hip) on fourth-and-goal.
- After the Vikings took the lead back on a 41-yard touchdown run by Toby Gerhart, Jones returned the ensuing kickoff 77 yards down the Ravens' sideline (Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was not here to interfere this time) to put Baltimore up 22-19.
- Minnesota rebounded with a spectacular 79-yard catch-and-run by Cordarrelle Patterson to jump back ahead, but Flacco marched the Ravens 80 yards on five plays in the final 45 seconds of the game. His 9-yard pass to a leaping Brown sealed a victory that had often proved elusive.
"I don't know if there has ever been a crazier minute-and-40-some seconds ever," Flacco said.
The day began with both teams struggling to move the ball because players had trouble with footing on a snowy field. The conditions got so bad that a plow got stuck at the 20-yard line because too much snow had accumulated.
"This was just a really crazy game under really crazy conditions," defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said.
The Ravens (7-6) needed this win if they were to have any hope of winning the AFC North or capturing a wild-card berth because the Cincinnati Bengals (9-4) and Miami Dolphins (7-6) had both won. That just heightened the drama of what became a one-of-a-kind, back-and-forth finish for the Ravens.
"You couldn't even really get emotional," said Jones, who scored his first touchdown off a return since the Super Bowl. "It was too confusing."
The Ravens have had memorable finishes in 2013. There was the Mile High Miracle in the AFC divisional playoff game in Denver and the late fourth-down stand in the Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers.
"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."
While the finish was scintillating, the final score shouldn't come as a surprise. This was the Ravens' eighth game decided by three or fewer points this season, and the Ravens have now won four of them.
"That was like playing 'Madden,'" wide receiver Torrey Smith said. "If you have a heart condition, you can't watch the Ravens."
BALTIMORE -- A few thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' 29-26 win over the Minnesota Vikings:
What it means: In a wild finish, the Ravens (7-6) braved a snowy field and a fourth-quarter collapse on defense to come back and beat the last-place Vikings. Joe Flacco's 9-yard touchdown pass to a leaping Marlon Brown with four seconds remaining capped a thrilling comeback. Flacco drove the Ravens 80 yards on five plays as they won for the fourth time in five games. This allowed the Ravens to hold on to the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC. The Ravens are now 32-9 against teams with losing records, and they needed three late touchdowns to avoid an upset loss to a Vikings team that lost NFL leading rusher Adrian Peterson in the second quarter.
Crazy finish: In the most unbelievable finish in Ravens history, the teams combined for five touchdowns in the final 2 minutes, 1 second. The Ravens thought they had pulled out the victory when Jacoby Jones returned a kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown. But the Ravens couldn't stop Cordarrelle Patterson, who took a short pass and ran past the entire defense for a 79-yard touchdown. Then, not to be outdone, Flacco drove the Ravens down the field in the final minute for his 18th career comeback in the fourth quarter or overtime.
Clutch catch: Before Jones' touchdown, it looked like tight end Dennis Pitta would be the hero. In his first game back since dislocating his hip, Pitta scored on a 1-yard touchdown catch on fourth-and-goal to put the Ravens ahead in the fourth quarter. He was just activated off the injured reserve and looked rusty at the beginning with two drops.
Stock watch: Rising: Undrafted rookie Marlon Brown. After only one catch in each of his past two games, Brown came up big. He finished with six catches for 83 yards and the winning touchdown.
Flacco's costly mistake: Flacco's second interception was the most critical one. Getting pressured in his own territory, Flacco should've thrown the ball out of bounds. Instead, he threw a low pass to the sideline, where it was intercepted by safety Andrew Sendejo at the Ravens' 34-yard line. The Vikings converted that into a 8-yard touchdown pass to Jerome Simpson to put Minnesota ahead 12-7 early in the fourth quarter.
Capitalizing on questionable turnover: The Ravens scored first off what was a debatable turnover. It looked like Toby Gerhart's knee was down before he fumbled, but the call was upheld on a replay challenge. Flacco scrambled for 22 yards before hitting Ed Dickson for a 1-yard touchdown pass on third-and-goal. It marked the fourth time in five games that the Ravens scored first.
What's next: The Ravens begin a season-ending stretch when they play three straight division leaders. It begins next Monday night at the Detroit Lions.
With Pitta active, the Ravens scratched Dallas Clark, who is third on the team with 31 catches and three touchdowns.
Dumervil, the Ravens' sacks leader, will not play after not practicing all week with an injured ankle. He was listed as doubtful on Friday's injury report.
Here's the complete injury report for the Ravens and Vikings:
VIKINGS: CB Josh Robinson, DT Chase Baker, G Jeff Baca, TE Kyle Rudolph, QB Christian Ponder, T Mike Remmers, WR Rodney Smith.
RAVENS: OLB Elvis Dumervil, TE Dallas Clark, DT Brandon Williams, WR/RS Deonte Thompson, S Omar Brown, S Brynden Trawick, C Ryan Jensen.