So close…The Baltimore Ravens came so close to making it to another AFC title game but fell just short as they lost to the New England Patriots 35-31 on Saturday.
With two 14-point leads, Baltimore held the upper hand for a good portion of the game, but they could not make it stand as the Pats scored the winning touchdown with just over five minutes left in the game.
Joe Flacco was moving the Ravens on the ensuing drive before throwing an uncharacteristic interception to kill it. One last desperation heave into the end zone was batted down, and Baltimore headed home.
Yes, Flacco did throw four touchdown passes, but his two interceptions in the second half were killer, most notably his second. The Ravens started their next drive after the New England go ahead score at their own 11, and moved the ball 53 yards before Flacco was picked off to end that drive. Flacco did do a nice job of spreading out his passes, connecting with eight different targets.
Running back Justin Forsett had a great game, rushing for 129 yards on 24 carries, and also caught a Flacco pass for a score as well.
Baltimore did play well through the whole game, but a little trickery from New England helped confuse the Ravens.
During the third quarter, New England did a bit of a lineup shuffle that confused the Ravens on defense–the Patriots lined up a running back as an ineligible receiver and made one of their offensive linemen an eligible receiver, thus confusing the Ravens as well as their coach, John Harbaugh.
It seemed as though the Patriots did have the lineup changes reported, and they were announced to the Ravens, but Baltimore was unsure how to handle it. The result of that play was a 14-yard pass to the New England offensive lineman Michael Hoomanawanui, which set them up at the Baltimore 10 yard line. Harbaugh came on the field to protest the move and was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, moving the ball to the Baltimore five, eventually leading to a Patriot touchdown.
While he might have been right about at least questioning the move, why not just call a timeout? I understand timeouts are important, but if your defense isn’t set up or you get a look you don’t like, call a timeout.
Overall, the Ravens had a good season, considering all of the turmoil they had to deal with early in the year with Ray Rice. While this year does not result in a Super Bowl appearance, they still made the playoffs for the sixth time in the past seven seasons. Pretty impressive.
Now it’s on to the Orioles for hope and inspiration.
By Andy Mindzak