AFC North: 2013 Week 15 BAL at DET

Joe FlaccoAP Photo/Rick OsentoskiJoe Flacco said the Ravens don't panic in clutch situations, and they proved it again on Monday.
DETROIT -- A month ago, I was convinced the Baltimore Ravens
weren't going to make the playoffs. Now, after another can't-believe-it-until-you-see-it moment, I wouldn't be shocked if the Ravens marched to another Super Bowl.

I'm not saying the Ravens are the NFL's best team. Heck, I can't say they're a consistent team. But, when the game is on the line, there is no team I trust more in the NFL right now than the defending Super Bowl champions.

The Ravens' thrilling 18-16 win over the Detroit Lions on "Monday Night Football" provided further evidence that no situation is too unnerving and no stage is too big. Baltimore has gone from a down-and-out, 4-6 team to a suddenly hot, 8-6 team because it believes anything is possible.

Just think about it: The Ravens control their fate in the playoffs and the AFC North because of the right leg of Justin Tucker and their one-legged quarterback. Obviously hurt by a hit to his left knee earlier in the fourth quarter, Joe Flacco completed a 27-yard pass on third-and-15 off his back foot to get the Ravens in range for a winning field goal. Tucker then booted a franchise-record 61-yarder with 38 seconds to lift the Ravens to another improbable victory.

"The thing I love about our football team is that we are a team of faith," coach John Harbaugh said. "We believe. We trust. Because of that, we'll fight. We will run the race right down to the end. That's something that our football team does. I'm very proud of them for that."

There are times when special moments define special teams, just like the times when the Ravens converted the fourth-and-29 in San Diego and delivered the Mile High Miracle last season. These Ravens are building quite a portfolio of "never say never" moments.

Two weeks ago, the Ravens beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 22-20, by stopping a two-point conversion with 1:03 remaining. Last week, the Ravens outlasted the Minnesota Vikings, 29-26, by scoring three touchdowns in the final 2:05, including the winning 9-yard touchdown pass to Marlon Brown with 4 seconds left.

On Monday, the Ravens won for the third straight week on a play in the final 63 seconds. What separates the Ravens from the likes of the Lions at this pressure-filled time of the year is experience.

"We don't panic. We don't let the situation get too big," Flacco said after his fourth game-winning drive of the season. "I wish it wasn't like that, that we wouldn't have to continue to play these types of games. But we've played a lot of them. We're used to having to make plays in crunch time when you're down a couple of points or up by a couple of points. We've played in a lot of big-time games and a lot of big-time atmospheres. Everybody knows how to handle them pretty well."

The Ravens aren't in the same league as the Seattle Seahawks or Denver Broncos in terms of offensive efficiency. Flacco and the Ravens didn't even get the ball in the end zone Monday night.

This defense can't be mentioned in the same breath as the ones in Kansas City or Carolina. That was evident after the Ravens failed to finish off a team again in the fourth quarter, giving up a go-ahead touchdown with 2:21 left in the game.

Where the Ravens rank among the NFL's best is finding a way to win, however dire the circumstance. It hasn't been that way all year for the Ravens, who lost three of their first four games decided by three points or less. Now, after Monday night's comeback, the Ravens have won four of their past five games by that same margin.

In order to gauge the confidence of the Ravens right now, you just had to be on their sideline in the final two minutes of the game when they stared at a 16-15 deficit. With the Ravens at the Lions' 45-yard line, Tucker told Harbaugh, "I got it."

As Tucker summed it up after the game, "The word 'can't' is not one that we're about, especially in this month of December."

The only aspect more surprising than how the Ravens are winning is who is helping them do it. On Monday night, the Ravens got an interception from 315-pound backup defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson in the third quarter that stopped the Lions from kicking a field goal and led to another Tucker kick. Then, after Tucker's 61-yarder in the fourth quarter, the Lions' final drive ended with the first career interception for Matt Elam, who took heat all week for calling wide receiver Calvin Johnson "pretty old."

"I don't know how many tight games we've been in or came down to the offense having to make a play or the defense having to stop the other team," cornerback Jimmy Smith said, "but we are coming through at the right time."

As a result, the Ravens maintained control of the No. 6 seed in the AFC and closed to one game of the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals. Baltimore can win the division for a third straight year if it beats the New England Patriots and the Bengals in the final two weeks. A loss, though, could bounce the Ravens from the playoffs.

There's no margin for error for the Ravens, but as the football world witnessed last night, that's probably how these Ravens like it anyway.

DETROIT -- Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said the injury to his left knee is nothing serious.

Flacco went to the ground after the helmet of Detroit Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy nailed him just below the knee. The hit, which came with 8:52 left in the game, caused Flacco's knee to "cave in," according to the quarterback.

But, after Flacco gingerly got back up, he played the rest of the game.

"It feels fine," Flacco said after the Ravens' 18-16 win over the Lions. "It feels strong."

The Ravens were concerned enough that backup Tyrod Taylor began to warm up on the side as Flacco stretched out his leg. Flacco got the left knee taped up and he went back on the field after the Lions took a 16-15 lead with 2:21 left in the game.

On the Ravens' final drive, Flacco threw primarily off his back foot, completing 2 of 5 passes for 27 yards, which was enough to get the Ravens into range for the winning 61-yard field goal.

"He fought through that," coach John Harbaugh said. "Joe Flacco is one tough guy. He’s a great player in crunch time."

Flacco downplayed the hit, even though he still had a slight limp walking to the postgame podium.

"It wasn't really bothering me once the initial hit [happened]," said Flacco, who was 20-of-38 for 222 yards. "I was probably more scared than anything from just what I felt and also just trying to get a couple of yards out of it."

Flacco, who has never missed a game in his six-year NFL career, was asked whether he was going to get additional testing on the knee. The Ravens play host to the New England Patriots in six days.

"I have no idea," Flacco said. "I have talk to the trainers and see what the protocol is."

Rapid Reaction: Baltimore Ravens

December, 16, 2013

DETROIT -- A few thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' 18-16 win at the Detroit Lions.

What it means: On the wings of Justin Tucker's 61-yard field goal with 38 seconds remaining, the Ravens (8-6) maintained their hold on the AFC's No. 6 seed and closed to one game of the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals (9-5). Baltimore can win the division for a third straight season by winning its remaining two games (home against New England and at the Bengals). It marked Baltimore's fourth straight victory, the team's longest win streak since winning four consecutive games in last season's playoffs. This was huge in terms of raising the Ravens' confidence level on the road. Baltimore won its second game away from home this season and its first since winning at Miami on Oct. 6.

Stock watch: Rising: Tucker. The second-year kicker remained automatic for the Ravens, making all six field goals (29, 24, 32, 49, 53 and 61 yards). He has converted 33 straight field goals, which is the longest current streak in the league. It's also four away from breaking Matt Stover's team record (36).

Flacco hurt: Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco took a hit on his left knee from linebacker DeAndre Levy with 8:52 left in the game. The knee looked like it got hyperextended, but Flacco never missed a play.

Unlikely turnover: It's no surprise that the Lions turned the ball over. But it was a shock to see who came up with it for the Ravens. Backup defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson, a seventh-round pick from a year ago, came up with his first career interception. After the pass was deflected twice, Tyson tipped it to himself before making the pick at the Ravens' 27-yard line. Baltimore converted the turnover into another field goal, putting the Ravens ahead 12-7 with eight minutes left in the third quarter.

Bad start: The Ravens' defense had a nightmare opening series. Baltimore let the Lions march down the field 78 yards on eight plays, a drive capped by Reggie Bush's 14-yard touchdown. Of the Lions' last 49 yards gained, 32 of them can be blamed on safety Matt Elam, who made headlines last week by calling Calvin Johnson "pretty old." He had an unnecessary roughness penalty for hitting a sliding Matthew Stafford in the head and then had a missed tackle.

What's next: The Ravens play their last regular-season home game against the AFC East-leading New England Patriots (10-4) in a rematch of the past two AFC Championship Games. The Patriots are 3-4 on the road this season.

Elvis Dumervil is active for Ravens

December, 16, 2013
DETROIT -- Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil is active after being listed as questionable with an ankle injury.

Dumervil was inactive last week, ending his streak of 44 games played. He leads the Ravens with 9.5 sacks.

Tight end Dallas Clark is also active after being scratched last week. Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson are also active, which means the Ravens are going with three tight ends for one of the few times in recent months.

Here's the Ravens' complete inactive list: RB Bernard Scott, WR Deonte Thompson, C Ryan Jensen, LB John SImon, DT Brandon Williams, S Brynden Trawick and S Omar Brown.