Sunday, December 8, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Baltimore Ravens
By Jamison Hensley
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.