Hands down, Torrey Smith says last season's divisional playoff game in Denver was the best of the year.
Better than the Super Bowl. Better than exacting revenge in New England.
"I feel like I'd say the same thing even if we lost; it was that good of a game," Smith said Friday.
"I had probably eight to 10 different women who didn't like football – period – and they fell in love with the game just from that game."
The folks at NFL.com agree. The Ravens' 38-35 overtime win at Mile High was named the greatest game of 2012 in a top 20 countdown.
It had it all: drama, comebacks, game-changing plays, overtime.
There was an intense week of buildup, with a clear favorite and the underdog. The top-seeded Broncos had won 11 straight games, including a 34-17 clubbing of the Ravens just four weeks earlier. The wild-card Ravens limped into the playoffs.
"Nobody thought we were going to win that game," cornerback Corey Graham recalled.
The weather was extreme. The temperature at kickoff was 13 degrees, making it the coldest game in Denver postseason history. It dropped from there, and eventually had a negative wind chill.
"It was really cold, I'll leave it at that," kicker Justin Tucker recalls. "I was glad I finished it off just so we could all go inside."
Big plays defined the game from the jump. The first time the Broncos touched the ball, Trindon Holliday returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown. Legendary quarterback Peyton Manning didn't even have to step on the field, and he had a seven-point lead.
But the Ravens showed early that they weren't going to go quietly. On Baltimore's next possession, Smith flew past Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey for the first time, scoring a 59-yard touchdown.
Then, on the Broncos' first offensive possession, a tipped ball was corralled by Graham, who returned it 39 yards for a touchdown. Just like that, Baltimore was on top after a disastrous start.
"I remember making plays, I had to make plays" Graham said. "I was fortunate enough to be in position to do it and I capitalized on it."
Manning and the Broncos offense retook the lead with back-to-back touchdown drives. The future Hall of Fame quarterback had settled in.
Baltimore came back, and Smith struck again, with an acrobatic catch for a 32-yard touchdown with just 36 seconds left to play in the first half. The two teams went into the locker room tied at 21.
The second half started as ominously as the first half for the Ravens. Holliday burst out of the gates for a 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, Denver's second special teams touchdown of the game.
But a chant Bible verse started circulating the Ravens' sideline. "No weapon formed against us shall prosper."
The Ravens went down the field and scored on a 1-yard run by Ray Rice. The Broncos answered with a touchdown to Demaryius Thomas with just over seven minutes left, giving them a seven-point lead.
Baltimore came to its final possession needing a miracle. And it got it – the Mile High Miracle.
At his own 30-yard line, quarterback Joe Flacco stepped up and away from pressure. He unleashed a bomb, a pass so high and deep that it sailed over the Broncos' retreated defense and confused safety Rahim Moore, who was left flapping at the ball as he tumbled to the turf.
On the other end was wide receiver Jacoby Jones, who cruised into the end zone 70 yards from Flacco's toss with eyes agape. The game was tied with 31 seconds left.
"Silence," Jones recalls.
The game went into overtime, and each team got a possession, but wasn't able to muster any points. When Manning got a second chance, he threw an ill-fated, wobbly pass that Graham stepped in front of for an interception at Denver's 45-yard line.
After a few runs, Tucker blasted the kick through the uprights from 47 yards away. Ravens win.
"When I hit the ball, it felt like I kicked a cinder block," Tucker remembered. "Fortunately the cinder block went straight."
The Ravens' postgame locker room was emotional with a speech from Ray Lewis. Everyone inside the locker room, no matter who they were, embraced anybody they could get their hands on.
"There were times in the game when it didn't look like we were going to win that game. But we continued to find ways to fight," Graham said. "I'll never forget that game."