2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Column: Ravens win is one for the ages

    2013-01-12 22:18

(Eds: With AP Photos.)
By TIM DAHLBERG
AP Sports Columnist

Just before the sixth quarter of one of the most fascinating and improbable NFL playoff games you'll ever see, Justin Tucker trotted out onto the field and did something you hardly ever see.

He practiced making a field goal. And for one of the few times on a frigid afternoon-turned-evening in Denver, something turned out exactly as planned.

The game that seemed like it was destined never to end finally did, much to the dismay of 76,732 shivering fans and a quarterback who had seemed destined to take the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl. It was Peyton Manning's interception that gave the Baltimore Ravens their golden opportunity in the 38-35 win, though Manning could hardly be blamed for the Broncos being in that position to begin with.

He was still playing deep into overtime for the same reason Ray Lewis will go on to play at least one more game before calling it a career. Lewis was on the sideline probably rehearsing his farewell speech when a shocking collapse by the Denver secondary allowed a game tying touchdown on a 70-yard pass to Jacoby Jones with just 31 seconds left.

Up until then, it was just about how John Elway imagined things going when the Broncos courted Manning during the offseason and let the orange-clad faithful in Denver know that Tebowtime was over.

A frigid weekend in January. A big-time quarterback under center. And a fourth quarter drive engineered by Manning that appeared to wrap up this playoff win with a giant bow.

Except the Broncos aren't one step closer to the Super Bowl. The Ravens are flying to either Houston or New England, and the way they felt after Saturday's game they might not even need a plane.

It was tough enough to win it. Trying to describe it all afterward might have been even tougher.

``Thanks for bearing witness to one of the greatest football games you're ever going to see,'' Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. ``That football game did the game of football proud.''

Indeed it did, warts and all. Yes, the brilliant plays were all there - how many times have you seen a player start both halves with long kick returns for touchdowns as Denver's Trindon Holliday did? - but the miscues were almost as memorable and arguably more significant.

That begins with Manning, who was supposed to be the coolest one on a very cool field but had three turnovers that led directly to 17 points. It continues with Ravens punt and kickoff return teams that gave up scores that might have sunk any team that didn't believe like it was supposed to win no matter what happened.

``We never wavered, we never wavered,'' Lewis said. ``This will probably go down as one of the greatest wins in Ravens history.''

But the play that will be debated and dissected in Denver for far longer than Tebowmania ever lasted was the biggest gaffe of all. It came after standout cornerback Champ Bailey had already been beaten for two long touchdown passes, and everyone in the stadium was asking the person in the seat next to them what happened to the vaunted Broncos pass defense.

Eight men were playing off the line, knowing the game was theirs unless something freakishly horrible happened. Eight men who all knew a desperation pass was coming but somehow were unable to defend against it.

Eight men who could do nothing but watch as Jacoby strutted into the end zone with the tying score.

``You got to start taking shots at some point and it happened to work out,'' Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said. ``It was pretty incredible.''

There were snow flurries on the field and the wind chill had dipped below zero when Manning and Lewis met again at midfield, this time for the coin flip for overtime. The two were always intertwined in this game and both had their moments, with Lewis getting a team-high 15 tackles and Manning throwing for three scores, the last of which seemingly secured the win for Denver.

Manning had come back from a lost season and a potentially career-ending neck injury to win 11 straight games for his new team. Lewis was calling it a career, and using his pending retirement as one more way to motivate his team to keep playing.

They played nearly 77 minutes before it was finally settled by a rookie kicker who after the end of the first overtime period went out on the field to practice a kick. Tucker made 30 of 33 during the regular season, and this one was perfect, touching off a celebration on the sidelines.

Manning went over and gave Lewis a hug before heading into a somber, stunned locker room. He showered and dressed in suit and tie before coming out to talk about how hard it was for everyone on the team to have their season come to such a shocking end.

``You want it to work and keep going and win, but that's not always the way it works,'' Manning said.

Lewis was just as philosophical in victory, talking about higher powers and things that happen when men come together. He said he was particularly inspired by a visit he made to a Baltimore hospital Thursday night, where he saw sick kids who will never be able to experience the joys he has in playing the game of football.

``I challenged my team this week to not listen to anything outside our building, to buy into everything we are as a team,'' Lewis said. ``When you get everybody to buy in, it's just so special to see it.''

Even more special might be to see the Ravens in the Super Bowl.

And after a win for the ages, a lot more people are beginning to believe that's just where they will end up.

----

Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Thaddeus LewisJul 22 10:33a

Buffalo Bills QBs Jeff Tuel and Thaddeus Lewis are alternating series with the second unit in team drills Tuesday, July 22.

Tyler BrayJul 22 09:13a

Kansas City Chiefs QBs Tyler Bray and Chase Daniel are likely to compete for one roster spot with QB Aaron Murray likely to make the team behind starting QB Alex Smith.

Navorro BowmanJul 22 12:13a

San Francisco 49ers LB NaVorro Bowman (knee) will likely return to action in Week 9 after the team's Week 8 bye, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.

Jacques McClendonJul 21 11:03p

Jacksonville Jaguars OG Jacques McClendon is the frontrunner to start at right guard heading into training camp, according to Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. OG Brandon Linder is the other candidate for the starting job.

Aaron ColvinJul 21 10:53p

Jacksonville Jaguars CB Aaron Colvin (knee) will begin training camp and the regular season on the Physically Unable to Perform list as he recovers from a torn anterior cruciate [ More ]

Jeromy MilesJul 21 10:03p

Baltimore Ravens S Jeromy Miles has seen some reps with the first-team defense this offseason and is a dark horse candidate to win the starting free safety job, according to ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley.

Brandon MosleyJul 21 09:43p

New York Giants OT Brandon Mosley will be given the first chance to start in place of OG Chris Snee when the first-team offensive line takes the field Tuesday, [ More ]

T.J. GrahamJul 21 09:23p

Buffalo Bills WR T.J. Graham had a pass fall through his hands after beating his defender on a deep route in camp Monday, July 21.ESPN.com's Mike Rodak believes Graham [ More ]

Sammy WatkinsJul 21 09:02p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins made several big plays in practice Monday, July 21, according to ESPN.com's Mike Rodak. Watkins beat CB Leodis McKelvin deep, hauled in a pass [ More ]

Marvin JonesJul 21 07:03p

Cincinnati Bengals QB A.J. McCarron (shoulder), WR Marvin Jones (ankle) and CB Onterio McCalebb (knee) have been placed on the Non-Football Injury list.

Devon StillJul 21 07:03p

Cincinnati Bengals OG Clint Boling (knee), LB Marquis Flowers (hamstring), P Kevin Huber (neck), WR Colin Lockett (hamstring), DT Zach Minter (back), DT Devon Still (back) and WR Ryan [ More ]

Cordy GlennJul 21 06:53p

Buffalo Bills OT Cordy Glenn (illness) does not have a timetable for his return at this point, according to head coach Doug Marrone. 'I don't know that. It's a [ More ]

Mike CaussinJul 21 06:43p

The Washington Redskins have signed free-agent TE Mike Caussin (Bills). Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The team also waived LS Kyle Nelson.

Cheta OzougwuJul 21 06:32p

New Orleans Saints DE Cheta Ozougwu (undisclosed) and DT John Jenkins (pectoral) have been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Brennan WilliamsJul 21 06:22p

Houston Texans OT Brennan Williams (undisclosed) has been waived with a failed physical designation.

Brian CushingJul 21 06:22p

Houston Texans DT Louis Nix (undisclosed), LB Brian Cushing (undisclosed) and LB Trevardo Williams (undisclosed) have been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Eric HaggJul 21 06:13p

Denver Broncos SS Eric Hagg has informed the team that he has decided to retire from professional football.

Dominique EasleyJul 21 05:23p

New England Patriots DT Dominique Easley, RB Roy Finch, LB Deontae Skinner and OT Chris Martin have been placed on the team's non-football injury list.

Alfonzo DennardJul 21 05:23p

New England Patriots CB Alfonzo Dennard (shoulder), WR Aaron Dobson (foot), WR Jeremy Gallon (undisclosed), DT Tommy Kelly (knee) and WR Matthew Slater (undisclosed) will begin training camp on [ More ]

Leon HallJul 21 05:12p

Cincinnati Bengals DT Geno Atkins (knee) and CB Leon Hall (Achilles') will begin training camp on the team's physically unable to perform list.

Jon BeasonJul 21 05:12p

New York Giants LB Jon Beason (foot) will begin training camp on the team's physically unable to perform list.

John JerryJul 21 05:02p

New York Giants OT William Beatty (leg), OG John Jerry (knee) and WR Mario Manningham (knee) will be limited when training camp starts.

Kraig UrbikJul 21 04:33p

Buffalo Bills OT Chris Hairston and OG Kraig Urbik saw first-team repetitions at right guard Monday, July 21.

Dezmon BriscoeJul 21 04:03p

The Dallas Cowboys signed free-agent WR Dezmon Briscoe (Redskins), according to his agent. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Phillip HuntJul 21 03:12p

Former Philadelphia Eagles DE Phillip Hunt (knee) has recovered from anterior cruciate ligament surgery and should begin workouts with teams in the near future.

Chris ConteJul 21 02:12p

Chicago Bears FS Chris Conte said he feels good as he recovers from shoulder surgery, but is unsure of his availability for the start of training camp. He could [ More ]

Alameda Ta'amuJul 21 01:53p

Arizona Cardinals DT Alameda Ta'amu (knee) and FS Tyrann Mathieu (knee) are candidates to be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list at the start of training camp.

David WilsonJul 21 01:42p

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) should be able to help the offense if he is able to stay healthy this upcoming season, according to former offensive coordinator [ More ]

Chris SneeJul 21 01:42p

Updating a previous report, New York Giants OG Chris Snee has officially announced his retirement from professional football.

Garrett CelekJul 21 01:22p

San Francisco 49ers TEs Derek Carrier and Garrett Celek will compete for the No. 3 tight end spot during training camp.

De'Anthony ThomasJul 21 01:22p

Kansas City Chiefs RB De'Anthony Thomas spent most of his time with the running backs during practice Monday, July 21. Thomas run a lot of passing routes out of [ More ]

Christopher OwensJul 21 01:13p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee), WR Kyle Williams (knee), WR A.J. Jenkins (hamstring) and CB Christopher Owens (hamstring) participated in practice Monday, July 21.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group