Five thoughts on the Ravens' 29-26 win over the Minnesota Vikings Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium:
No Problem Dubbing It, 'Craziest Finish Ever'
They won it. They lost it. They won it. They lost it. They won it. That's the quick summation of the Ravens' experience over last 125 seconds. Up and down and up and down and up. So many big plays and so much back-and-forth crammed into such a short time span that, as the Ravens' Jacoby Jones said, "You couldn't get emotional (because) it was too confusing." I have no problem calling it the craziest Ravens game ever. Wait, make that the craziest ending ever. There have been games that were a lot crazier overall – shootouts, comebacks, and overtime thrillers, too many to mention here. Through 57 minutes and 55 seconds Sunday, this game bore no resemblance to those. The Vikings led, 12-7. But then all hell broke loose. Actually, an NBA game broke loose, last team to score wins. The Ravens took it. The Vikings took it back. The Ravens took it again. The Vikings took it back again. In the end, the Ravens had just enough time to make just enough plays to come out on top. Asked if the ending was crazier than last year's "Mile High Miracle" in Denver, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco didn't flinch. Yes.
Didn't Think Offense Could Win It, Twice
For most of the game, the Ravens' offense gave a familiar performance. There were a couple of big plays, a lot of missed chances, not much of a running game, some penalties, some turnovers, and bottom line, just one touchdown in 57 minutes. It wasn't a shock. One touchdown was all the offense had generated in each of the team's past two games, both wins. But in the final three minutes, a remarkable transformation occurred. Flacco and the offense won the game twice. First, the unit drove 64 yards to a touchdown, with Flacco hitting Dennis Pitta for the score on fourth-and-goal. Then, after (pay attention now) the Vikings scored on a long run, Jacoby Jones ran the kickoff back for a touchdown and the Vikings scored on a long pass, the Ravens offense had 45 seconds left to salvage the game. Flacco delivered, finishing an 80-yard touchdown drive with a game-winning pass to Marlon Brown. I'll be honest: I wasn't sure the offense was capable of winning a game twice like that, not with the way things have gone this year. But it came through, bailing out the faltering defense.
What Transpired With Pitta Was Amazing
If someone had told you when the 2013 season started that the Ravens would need a pair of touchdown catches to win an important game late in the season, and that Brown and Pitta would make those catches, no one would have thought you were being serious. Brown, a rookie, had never caught an NFL pass when this season started. Pitta had gone down with a career-threatening hip injury. "I wasn't sure I could play football again," Pitta said Sunday. But Brown had his best game ever Sunday, even before he caught the game-winner. A Southerner, he admitted he had never really even seen snow before, much less played in it, but he adapted to the slick conditions better than most players. And as for Pitta, everyone should step back and recognize that what transpired Sunday was amazing. Less than five months after suffering an awful injury, he stepped back onto a field and picked up right where he left off. I didn't see that coming.
Ravens' Best Asset? Never Stop Fighting
After the Ravens lost in Chicago on Nov. 17, I wrote that they had to win all three games of their upcoming homestand to have any shot at making the playoffs. With Sunday's you-had-to-be-there win, they completed a sweep, giving them a 7-6 record. They're still a long way from nailing down a playoff spot, and in a season that's getting crazier by the week, who knows what will happen? But after Sunday's win, coming on the heels of the Thanksgiving night win over Pittsburgh, we do know this definitively about the Ravens: They aren't perfect, far from it, but they have a ton of fight in them. That's actually probably their best asset. They never stop fighting. When they were 4-6, they looked out of playoff contention, but they kept fighting and now they have a shot. The Steelers had them on the ropes, but they kept fighting and hung on to win. Sunday, they absorbed haymaker blows from the Vikings in the final two minutes, a pair of stunning scores that seemed to determine the game. But they kept fighting and good things happened, as they usually do to teams that have been through the wars and never give in, regardless of what happens. Short Takes
The Vikings were unhappy that Toby Gerhart's first-quarter fumble wasn't overturned on replay. I think they had a beef. The Ravens turned the break into the game's first touchdown … The Vikings also weren't happy with the long pass interference penalty that gave the Ravens life on the first of their two late touchdown drives. It was a close call, a routine play in many respects, except the defender, Robert Blanton, never turned to play the ball, a maneuver that often gets flagged. End of story there … Now I know why the Vikings traded Percy Harvin. Their rookie receiver, Cordarrelle Patterson, is a major talent. "Not too often do you have a receiver who is that fast and that strong," Ihedigbo said … Playing in the snow? The players loved it. "That's a game I'll never forget; I really enjoyed it," the Ravens' Art Jones said … That's three game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime for Joe Flacco in 2013.