All week the Baltimore Ravens blog will look at the five plays that ruined the team's season. Let's wrap up the countdown with the No. 1 play:
WHEN: Dec. 29, 2013
WHERE: A 34-17 loss in Cincinnati
THE PLAY: Giovani Bernard's 27-yard gain on a screen pass at the end of the third quarter.
WHAT THEY SAID: Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith: "I kind of take credit for that whole drive because I missed a tackle on No. 25 [Bernard] and he broke down the line. That whole seven points I put on my shoulder."
WHY IT RUINED THE RAVENS' SEASON: The Ravens had just regained the momentum after tying the game at 17 in the third quarter. At that point, the Ravens knew they were in the playoffs with a win because the Dolphins were losing. With the Ravens' season on the line, the Bengals responded with a 12-play, 90-yard touchdown drive. The game, and the Ravens' playoff hopes, were done. The key play of that series was a short pass that turned into a big gain, compliments of Bernard.
The speedy running back made four Ravens defenders look bad. Linebacker Courtney Upshaw couldn't track Bernard running his route out of the backfield. Smith took a wrong angle and missed a tackle. Cornerback Lardarius Webb whiffed in his attempt to push Bernard out of bounds. And linebacker Daryl Smith never laid a hand on Bernard, who spun away from him to gain an extra five yards. Three plays later, the Bengals scored the winning touchdown.
Failing to step up late in games was a disturbing trend for the defense in the second half of the season. This time, it cost the Ravens a chance to defend their Super Bowl title in the playoffs.