The Ravens finished the first half of Sunday’s game against Arizona still asleep.
Down 24-6, the Ravens’ offense was flat for the third consecutive half, dating back to their 12-7 loss to Jacksonville.
But a seemingly different team would come out for the second half, one that wasn’t in a daze anymore.
“We woke up, plain and simple,” receiver Anquan Boldin said.
The Ravens, down 24-3 at one point in the first half, overcame a 21-point deficit to cap the largest comeback in franchise history, defeating the Cardinals 30-27 on a game-winning 25-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff with time expiring.
The previous biggest comeback was against Tennessee in November of 2006, when Baltimore came back from a 19-point deficit.
“It wasn’t a pretty halftime,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “It was pretty quiet in there. Obviously, it wasn’t a great thing to be a part of. But we came out in the second half, did some simple things, executed them well. We had our guys make some plays and that’s really what happened.”
The Ravens came out and executed their no-huddle offense to near perfection on the first drive of the second half. The tempo put Arizona on its heels as the Ravens moved the ball downfield for a touchdown in just 2:47. Running back Ray Rice scored a touchdown from one yard out (courtesy of an Arizona pass interference penalty in the end zone putting the ball there.)
The Ravens scored again two possessions later on a drive that began on their own 12 yard line. Baltimore ran 11 consecutive plays out of the shotgun formation before another pass interference penalty in the end zone gave the Ravens the ball at the 1 yard line. Rice punched in his second touchdown to cut Arizona’s lead to 24-20.
Linebacker Jameel McClain picked off Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb on Arizona’s next series, giving the Ravens’ offense the ball back.
For the third time in the third quarter, the Cardinals committed a pass interference penalty, this time at the 3 yard line. On the next play, Rice ran in his third touchdown of the game, the first time he’s ever scored three touchdowns in one game.
“Touchdowns are never easy in this league,” Rice said. “I don’t care if they’re 1 yard or 99 yards, they’re not easy to come by and anybody will tell you that.”
Rice’s third score put Baltimore up 27-24. A 45-yard field goal by Cardinals kicker Jay Feely tied the game up at 27-27 with 8:48 to play.
Boldin’s play in the third quarter sparked the Ravens’ offense. He finished the day with seven catches for 145 yards, which included a one-handed grab for the highlight reel. Flacco completed 31 of 51 passes (a career high in attempts) for 336 yards and an interception.
Late in the fourth quarter it seemed the Cardinals were content with playing for overtime. But Baltimore got the ball back with 52 seconds and went to work. On second-and-7 from the Arizona 41, Flacco found receive Torrey Smith down the right sideline for a 36-yard gain that put the Ravens in scoring position. This set up Cundiff’s game-winner.
“I don’t ever want to come back from 21 points down again,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “I didn’t feel comfortable but I had faith and I trusted. We have a lot of amazing guys on this team.”
Suggs had a career best 13 tackles against the Cardinals, his home state’s team. He admitted he’s held a grudge against the Cardinals, which passed up the Arizona State alum.
“It’s always special to do it against Arizona but let’s be honest: It worked out because the right thing was for me to be a Baltimore Raven,” Suggs said. “That was the best thing that could ever happen to me in my professional career. But I’m going to always have a little something extra in the tank for Arizona.”
By Jason Butt