Just when it looked like the Ravens' season was over, it turned on a dime.
In a season in which Baltimore has battled adversity all year long, the Ravens pulled out one last hard-fought victory, 20-10, over the Cleveland Browns to secure a playoff spot.
Trailing by seven points entering the fourth quarter, the Ravens rattled off 17 points in the final 15 minutes.
"It feels good, man," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "I remember sitting at home last year a week from now, and it didn't feel very good. That at least won't be happening this year."
The Ravens offense struggled for three-and-a-half quarters as the Kansas City Chiefs beat up on the San Diego Chargers in the other game that needed to go Baltimore's way in order to advance.
As it looked like Baltimore might fumble it's opportunity, something clicked.
Flacco hit Torrey Smith on a 53-yard bomb. On the very next play, Flacco hit Smith for a 16-yard touchdown that gave the Ravens a 13-10 lead with less than eight minutes remaining.
The Ravens had 51 offensive plays without a touchdown on Sunday. Then it took just two plays for Baltimore to essentially punch its playoff ticket.
"You're watching [the Chiefs-Chargers game] like, 'We have a good opportunity here that we're wasting right now,'" Smith said. "We got back on track, made a couple big plays and got the momentum back."
As the Chiefs held onto a victory over the Chargers, giving the Ravens the help they needed, the defense sealed the victory by pestering Browns rookie quarterback Connor Shaw and sealing it with an interception by Lardarius Webb.
It hasn't been pretty down the stretch, but the Ravens are in the dance.
Turning Point Of The GameWith the Ravens trailing by four points midway through the fourth quarter, Flacco launched a pass deep down the left sideline for Smith. The two had trouble connecting on those plays all season long, and had one bounce away earlier in Sunday's game. This time, Smith rose up to make a strong grab over Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden. It was the catalyst for Smith's 16-yard touchdown grab on the next play.
Quote Of The Day"Let's go win a [flipping] game. [Fudge]!" – Flacco at halftime.
- The Ravens got off to another slow start on their first offensive drive and the Browns responded by marching deep into Baltimore territory. But Shaw fumbled the snap and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs pounced on it, reversing early momentum.
- Baltimore's first successful drive ended by being stuffed on the goal line. The Ravens had first-and-goal from the 2-yard line and ran three times, including on fourth down, and were stopped short each time. That left the game scoreless in the first quarter.
- On third down, Shaw rolled right and found wide receiver Taylor Gabriel wide open behind the Ravens' coverage for a 49-yard gain. The Browns punched it into the end zone on the next play to take a 10-3 lead with three minutes, 29 seconds left in the third quarter.
- Trailing by a touchdown in the fourth quarter, the Ravens put together their best drive of the game. Flacco hit wide receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Kamar Aiken for first downs, then found tight end Owen Daniels for a 39-yard catch and run. The Ravens had to settle for a 28-yard field goal to make the score, 10-6.
- The Ravens struggled in the red zone throughout the first three quarters, but put the hammer down late in the game. With Baltimore leading by just three points and facing a third-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Aiken made a strong-hands grab to put the Ravens ahead by 10, giving them some breathing room.
- With the Browns driving on their last breath, cornerback Lardarius Webb made a leaping interception to all but seal the game. It's Webb's first interception of the year and it couldn't have come at a* *better time.
Stand-out performer:Smith made the plays to bring the Ravens offense to life. His leaping 53-yard catch was perhaps the play of the year. Smith finished with four catches for 83 yards, including the 16-yard game-deciding touchdown.
What This MeansThe win sealed a playoff berth for the Ravens, their sixth in seven years.
Stat Of The GameQuarterback Joe Flacco went 8-for-9 for 161 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. That's a quarterback rating of 158.3. Flacco turned it on in the most clutch moment of the season.
On The HorizonIf the Broncos beat the Raiders, the Ravens will face the winner of the AFC North in the wild-card round of the playoffs. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati will face off tonight at 8:30 p.m. Box Score
Check out the best photos from M&T Bank Stadium as the Ravens battle the Browns in week 17 of the 2014 season.