It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure, but the Baltimore Ravens found themselves in the playoffs after defeating the Cleveland Browns 20-10 on Sunday.
Not only did the Ravens need to defeat the Browns Sunday, but they also needed some help from the Kansas City Chiefs in their game against the San Diego Chargers. While the Ravens were trying to handle their business, I’m sure there was some scoreboard watching going on as well.
Baltimore got the help they needed from the Chiefs, who defeated the Chargers 19-7.
In their own game, though, the Ravens did have their struggles, as they were trailing the Browns 10-3 heading into the fourth quarter, and that was a Browns team on their third-string quarterback and without star receiver Josh Gordon.
Joe Flacco turned it around for Baltimore in that fourth quarter though, throwing two touchdown passes, one to Torrey Smith and one to Kamar Aiken. Baltimore would score 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to get that final playoff spot.
Baltimore will be the third AFC North team to make the playoffs, as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals also are in. Pittsburgh defeated the Bengals on Sunday, getting the division, which means Baltimore will face off against the Steelers in Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs.
The Ravens finished strong to get here, going 5-2 since November 9. Entering that stretch, they had put their playoff hopes in doubt, losing two key games to the Bengals and Steelers back-to-back.
The Ravens had defeated the Steelers earlier in the year 26-6 but then lost to them in early November by a score of 43-23.
Baltimore will play Pittsburgh on Saturday night, January 3, at 8:15 p.m. The Ravens and Steelers have both been able to score points. Although sometimes it seems as if Baltimore has issues, the Ravens have averaged 25.6 points per game, while Pittsburgh has averaged 27.2. Defensively the Ravens have the edge, with the sixth-stingiest defense, giving up 18.9 points per game, while the Steelers have allowed an average of 23 points per game.
As always, it’s not a full season unless these guys play each other three times, and with both of them in the playoffs again, we will get our wish.
by Andy Mindzak