As much as I was yelling and throwing things during the Broncos-Ravens game, I think I just witnessed one of the top playoff games of all time. It was full of everything you want to have in a playoff game, and somewhere on this planet you have people jumping for joy and cheering the upset most people didn’t see coming…like me.
I’m not saying that Baltimore was a pushover or roadkill, but the Broncos were on a nice win streak, had all their players rested and ready to go. They were playing at home and was going against a team who played last week with most of their top defensive players walking around with serious injuries, we are talking about muscle tears and ligament strains. You couldn’t help but put your money on “The Mile High Machine”, but I guess if you got the heart, emotion and drive to overcome the physical…anything is possible. This loss goes down with the most devastating in Denver history. Right there with the 30-27 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Jan ’97 – another year when Denver looked very much like Super Bowl material.
I see sports writers are naming the spectacular pass Joe Flacco threw down the sideline, 70 make-or-break yards on a wing and a prayer touchdown pass that flew over two defenders, landed in the hands of Jacoby Jones to tie the game — The Flacco Fling; they are comparing it to “Hail Mary” by Staubach and the “Immaculate Reception” by Franco. The Flacco Fling was just as great and deadly as those two, just ask a die-hard Broncos’ fan like me. “At that point,” Flacco said, “you have to start taking shots. You have to get a little lucky.”
After the touchdown pass I couldn’t close my mouth and didn’t know how to react, just sat there for about 45 seconds waiting to see the replays twice before I chuckled and shook my head and said “Denver don’t want this game”. Out of all the years I took Joe Flacco on my fantasy football teams and just recently in the GET WITTED SPORTS YouTube vids I stated that I believe that Flacco would put himself in the Top 5 of NFL QBs this season because he has won a playoff game in each of his 5 NFL seasons and he can be clutch at the end of close games. He didn’t live up to my Top 5 QB standard, but he picked a helluva time to prove me right about he being clutch.
Ray Lewis, who led the Ravens with 17 tackles over this nearly 77-minute game in 13-degree weather, knelt down to the ground and put his helmet and just cried when it was over.
“I’ve never been a part of a game so crazy in my life,” he said.
The Baltimore Ravens (12-6), 9 1/2-point underdogs for this game in Denver, will get ready for a game at either New England Patriots or Houston Texans, who meet Sunday for the other spot in the AFC title game.
This game, the longest since the Cleveland Browns beat the New York Jets 23-20 in 1987, was an all-timer — up there with San Diego’s 41-38 double-overtime victory over Miami for drama. Flacco’s throw might be next to the one made by Roger Staubach, who famously coined the term “Hail Mary” after his game-winning toss to Drew Pearson beat Minnesota in the 1975 playoffs.
Peyton Manning, wearing an orange-and-gray glove to get more feel in the icy weather, fell to 0-4 lifetime in playoff games when the temperature is 40 or less. He finished 28 for 43 for 290 yards and accounted for all three Denver turnovers — the two picks and a lost fumble that set up the touchdown that tied the game at 28 late in the third quarter. The Broncos fell to 13-4 at home lifetime in the playoffs. Manning tied Dan Marino for fourth most touchdowns in postseason history. He also matched Brett Favre for most career playoff losses, with 11. Even with that said, I’m glad we have him as QB for the Broncos instead of “you know who”from last season.
Trindon Holliday had a record-setting day for a returner; he returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown and a kickoff 104 yards for another score. Both were playoff records for longest returns, as was the 248 total return yards he had.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh summed it up the best. ”Thanks for bearing witness to one of the greatest football games you’re ever going to see, that football game did football proud.” Yes it did. That is why I’m not going off on my wife and kids or threw the television down the stairs or out the window. If my beloved Denver Broncos had to lose a game, let it be an epic game that will always be remembered; I am comfortable losing it to a team I respect and to a player who put all of his emotions and heart out on the field and who I also think will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the best middle linebacker of all time.
Now I think I can go to bed. Goodnight.
Written by AG2