Music City Miracle Part II

Okay, there was no ridiculous end of game lateral for a touchdown.  But what the Ravens accomplished in Nashville seemed no less a miracle.  They earn a trip to the AFC Championship Game next Sunday with a rookie head coach, a rookie quarterback, an aging defense, and having now played 17 weeks in a row.

The Ravens were outgained 391 – 211.  They held the ball for more than eight minutes less than the Titans.  They couldn’t run the ball, and often couldn’t stop it.  

How in the world this team won remains almost unexplainable.  Almost.

They got some help and caught some breaks.

Joe Flacco appeared to step out of the back of the end zone for a safety late in the 4th quarter, but replays showed he narrowly stayed in bounds.  On the game winning drive, his 3rd down completion to Todd Heap should never have happened.  The play clock reached zero well before he called for the snap.  The refs missed that one.

But the Ravens season lives on thanks very simply to this statistic.  Two playoff games, 8 turnovers for their opponents, none for the Ravens.   And they were the most timely of turnovers today.  

Three times in the red zone Tennessee gave it away.  Wait, check that, the Ravens took it.  Great pressure forced the Kerry Collins interception, and big hits created fumbles. 

The Titans hurt themselves too.  A pair of snaps that Collins did not expect stymied drives, and Rob Bironas missed a field goal too.

But the defense kept the Ravens in the game, and the offense went and won it.  Flacco looks nothing like a rookie, showing a  level of poise that 10 year veterans would kill for.  He doesn’t make mistakes and when they need him to make a throw, he delivers.  The throw to Todd Heap to keep the drive alive was his gutsiest. 

And sidebar on Heap.  He has struggled this year.  He no longer is the consistent playmaker that used to send him to the Pro Bowl.  But he made a truly incredible catch, knowing he would get pummeled (his helmet was ripped off on the play). 

Back to Flacco, his final pass of the game, an absolute bullet on 3rd and 9, put Matt Stover in his comfort zone (and really, did anyone doubt Stover would deliver?).

I wrote about destiny last week at wbal.com.  and only believe more strongly in it now. 

They probably should not have won today.  Tennessee looked more talented for much of the game.  But here they are, through toughness, togetherness, and heart.  I can’t wait to see how far this train goes.

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