Some time in the future, the 70 yard pass Joe Flacco threw to Jacoby Jones, saving the season of the Baltimore Ravens on an icy field in Denver, will get a name, and might be regarded as one of the greatest plays in playoffs history.
The Ravens weren’t supposed to come away with the win in the divisional playoff round in Denver against a better Broncos team. They scored one touchdown off an interception that was an actual pass interference, and helped them take an early lead they didn’t deserve.
But someone doesn’t want the Ray Lewis ride, already a Super Bowl winner from over a decade ago, to end. Ray Rice with a huge day on the ground, getting 30 touches and running for 131 yards and a touchdown; Joe Flacco with another fine playoff performance, throwing three touchdown passes without an interception for 331 yards, completing 18 of his 34 passes; and Ray Lewis himself, who led the Ravens with 17 tackles on the day.
The stat sheet will say that Justin Tucker hit just one field goal, a 47 yard one, to end the game at 38-35 in double overtime and send the Ravens to their second consecutive AFC Championship game a very different team than the one that lost to Denver in the regular season and looked confused and lacking confidence on defense and their offensive play calling.
But those were the two interceptions by Corey Graham and a touchdown, and the defensive stand in the final two minutes, as the Broncos were trying to chew up the clock with a 35-28 lead, stopping the Broncos on their own 47 and forcing them to punt, before Flacco came up huge.
Peyton Manning was good, but not great, and all those that predicted a loss only based on his numbers in freezing temperatures turned out to be right. He threw two interceptions and also three touchdowns, but had too many bad moments in between his great ones, including the fourth quarter touchdown throw to Demaryius Thomas.
In all, this game will go down in history as one of the longest ever the playoffs have ever seen, and one of the most dramatic, having seen six lead changes before the final kick that ended it all. The Ravens suddenly matured in six weeks under Caldwell with their offensive play calling, while Ray Lewis added tons with his experience and just the energy and belief he brought to this defense, even not on the greatest day from them.
I started to step up in the pocket and I kept my eye on the safety’s depth at that point. Just felt I had a shot of maybe getting over him. At that point in the game, you don’t have any timeouts. When you’ve got to go a pretty decent length, you’ve got to start taking shots at some point. It happened to work out.
There are rules in life. One of them is that when the Ravens score more than 15 points in a playoff game during the Flacco-Harbaugh era, they win. It didn’t look that way with just over a minute left, but some statistics, just like Flacco’s arm, are too strong to argue with.