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Game Recap: Ravens 29, Vikings 26

Posted Dec 8, 2013

There were five touchdowns in two minutes, five seconds and the Ravens laughed last.

If frostbite didn’t take out Ravens fans at snowy M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, a heart attack could have finished them off.

Two minutes, five seconds. Five touchdowns.

“Will we ever see another game like that again?” Head Coach John Harbaugh said to begin his press conference.

No, probably not. In fact, definitely not.

The Ravens and Vikings were snow covered and dormant for 58 minutes on Sunday. Then they exploded.

At the end of a dizzying stretch of seemingly game-winning scores, the Ravens prevailed with a 29-26 victory on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to rookie receiver Marlon Brown with four seconds remaining.

Few thought it could get any crazier after last week’s Thanksgiving win over the Steelers. But Sunday's game was the first time in NFL history (since the 1970 merger), that five touchdowns were scored in the final 2:05. It's also the first game in NFL history with six lead changes in the fourth quarter.

Now, after a snow bowl that looked more like backyard football at times than the NFL, the Ravens (7-6) may have saved their season and are still in control of their destiny in the AFC playoff race.

Don’t count the defending Super Bowl champions out.

Flacco threw the “Mile High Miracle” in last year’s divisional playoffs, a 70-yard improbable bomb to Jacoby Jones with less than a minute to tie the Broncos. Flacco said Sunday’s game was crazier than that.

“That was one score in over a minute,” Flacco said. “In the time period Jacoby scored that touchdown in the Denver game, I think we probably scored three touchdowns in this game.”

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said that “besides the Super Bowl, that’s probably the most special win I’ve ever been a part of.”

Harbaugh put it like this: “That was about the best team win a team could ever have.”

The Ravens led for most of the game thanks to a 2-yard touchdown pass to Ed Dickson in the first quarter when the snow was its thickest. It held up until early in the fourth quarter as the Vikings, without running back Adrian Peterson (ankle), had trouble moving the ball. Peterson went out early in the second quarter.

But Baltimore’s offense struggled for much of the game. It had five three-and-outs in the first half. It started the second half with another. The Ravens were stuffed twice on fourth down in Vikings territory.

But the unit got going in the nick of time. Here’s how the finish played out:

With 2:05 remaining, Flacco connected with tight end Dennis Pitta for a 1-yard touchdown pass on fourth down. Playing in his first game back from a fractured and dislocated hip, Pitta jogged to the sidelines and got a big hug from Harbaugh and Suggs. It seemed like the perfect ending.

“Being able to stand here and talk about a victory and being a part of that is special for me,” Pitta said. “We were able to get what I thought was the game-winning score at the time, but it ended up being just one of many.”

You can say that again.

The Vikings got the ball back with two minutes remaining, needing a field goal to tie. Backup quarterback Matt Cassel hit wide receiver Jerome Simpson on the first play for a 27-yard gain. Then backup running back Toby Gerhart rumbled up the middle for a 41-yard score, bulldozing Ravens defenders along the way.

M&T Bank Stadium was shocked. Two plays, 38 seconds and the Ravens were losing again. The Vikings were up, 19-15, with 1:27 left.

That was an eternity.

The Vikings sent the kickoff short but high, hoping to prevent Jones from getting a head of steam. It didn’t work. Jones misjudged it and still caught it on the run, and he had excellent blocking in front of him with fullback Vonta Leach, outside linebacker Pernell McPhee and fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

Jones streaked down the sideline, and this time Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin wasn’t there to slow him down. Jones galloped 77 yards for a touchdown, putting the Ravens back on top, 22-19, with 1:16 left.

“That thing parted like the Red Sea – let me say the Red Snow,” Jones said. “You couldn’t even get too emotional. It was too confusing.”

Yeah, we’re not done.

The Ravens defense had another chance to stomp out the Vikings, and this time looked like it had it under control. But on third-and-10, Cassel threw to dynamic rookie Cordarrelle Patterson on a bubble screen. Patterson burst through the Ravens defense and cruised into the end zone for a 79-yard score.

"I said some un-Godly words my mother wouldn't be proud of," defensive tackle Arthur Jones said.

Now there were 45 seconds left and the Ravens needed another touchdown to win. No way, right?

“You’re in complete shock,” Flacco said of his emotions. “Rather than low, you get pissed [thinking], ‘Are you kidding me? How did this happen?’ You go take the field and see what you can do.”

Flacco had struggled for most of the day and had thrown three interceptions. But in the clutch, he started leading another charge.

He hit Brown down the middle for a 35-yard gain, putting the Ravens quickly beyond midfield. Then a bomb down the left sideline was picked off, but pass interference was called. The Ravens were at the Minnesota 27 with 24 seconds left. Flacco tried to hit Brown again but was incomplete. Then he scrambled and found Pitta over the middle for an 18-yard gain.

Baltimore had 10 seconds left, enough time for two shots at the end zone from the 9-yard line. Flacco needed just one.

He hit Brown in the back of the end zone and the rookie barely got his tippy toes down before going out of bounds. The official reviewed the play and upheld the touchdown ruling on the field. The hardened fans that stayed till the end went nuts. It’s Flacco’s 18th career fourth-quarter or overtime comeback.

“To fight like that to the end,” Harbaugh said. “Four-game winning scores. Is that what it was? Five. There were five game-winning scores. I lost count.”

The win puts the Ravens above .500 for the first time since Week 5 in early October. The Ravens won all three games during a crucial home stretch to keep pace in the AFC.

As of now, they’re still in the sixth and final playoff spot. The Miami Dolphins, who beat the Steelers, 34-28, also have a 7-6 record but the Ravens own the head-to-head tiebreaker. Baltimore has a tough three-game stretch to close out the regular season: at Detroit, versus New England and at Cincinnati.

But the Ravens are pretty hardened at this point themselves.

They played in tornado-like conditions in Chicago. They braved the snow and two shocking Vikings scores on Sunday. And after pulling out a win this time around, they feel confident they can go on another run.

“It probably makes you tough,” Harbaugh said of the victory. “It probably makes you resilient. It probably puts a lot of callouses all over your psyche and your character. When you’ve got callouses on your character, that’s probably a good thing in the end.”

Minnesota (3-9-1) lost Peterson in the second quarter with an ankle injury.

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