What can you say about this game? It was as cardiac intensive as any game I've witnessed this year, or for many years as far as that goes. The Ravens did just enough, made the plays when it counted, and came away with the victory. The Titans on the other hand missed opportunity after opportunity, and couldn't seem to make that big play when it was needed most. Time after time the Titans marched down the field, but it seemed every time they got within striking distance the Ravens defense would take the ball , and their hopes away. Tennessee's season came down to the last 53 seconds, and they just couldn't seem to make the plays they had to against the Ravens defense.
This was a game neither team deserved to lose, but one has to in the end. Titan fans will look at the apparent clock elapse on the Ravens final drive and point to that as the reason the Ravens won, but officials missing delay of game calls has plagued the league all season long, twice in favor of Pittsburgh in their win at M&T Bank Stadium a couple of weeks ago, twice before in the playoffs this season, and numerous times to nearly every team in the league this year. As I've been saying, these guys aren't that good.
But that wasn't what won the game for the Ravens, no more so then the ridiculous call on Terrell Suggs the first time these two teams met. You could say the Titans beat themselves more then anything else. When it came down to putting the game away they weren't able to pull the trigger.
This win didn't feel like the rest of the wins the Ravens have chalked up this season. This one took a few years off my life. Throughout the game the Titans moved the ball down the field, only to have it stripped away within the 33 yard line. The results: two lost fumbles, an interception, a turnover on downs and a missed 51-yard field goal. And numerous times the Ravens faltered on offense, going 3 and out, or making only one first down during a series. I couldn't help but feel that sooner or later the Titans were going to cash in, and the Ravens would be hard pressed to catch up. But it didn't go down that way, the Ravens fought for every inch, and in the end they made more plays of significance then the Titans could. Sometimes the Football Gods smile down upon you.
Hats off to the defense for taking the ball back 3 times, each one ending a promising Titan drive. And a tip of the hat for the big leauge passes from Joe Flacco, once hitting Derrick Mason for a touchdown to tie the game, and connecting with Mark Clayton to set the ball down at the 3 yard line. Add the other passes that kept the final drive alive and I'd say the kid had a hell of a game. Poise for a rookie quarterback is an uncommon commodity, but for Flacco it comes naturally.
And for those who were saying that Matt Stover was finished, all I have to say is you counted the man out too soon. Much of Stover's early season struggles were due to the fact that Raven Special Teams coach Jerry Rosberg decided to try and quicken Stover's kick time, which was a pathetically stupid decision. When he allowed Stover to go back to timing his kicks as he has done for the last 19 years Matt got his game back. Duh! Before each game Stover envisions himself kicking the wining field goal, and this week he got the chance to make that a reality. A pressure kick from 43 yards? No problem when you have one of the best of all time. The man never ceases to amaze me.
This one was a classic, a game for the ages. It featured two teams with nearly identical ability going head to head, pummeling each other with all their might, and fighting down to the final whistle. As a football fan you couldn't ask for a better contest, though Titan fans might beg to differ. The game was so close that those I watched it with had taken to rubbing the head of my 6 year old niece Destiny for good luck. She's a proud new owner of her first Ravens jersey, a #23, Willis McGahee model, and became the official good luck charm for this game. And make no mistake, this Ravens team is indeed a team of destiny.
Look out either Pittsburgh or San Diego, because here come the Ravens, the team you didn't want to have to face. One more win to get to the show, just one more.
Was it just me, or did any of you find the CBS coverage of the game to be sorely lacking? Never mind the incessant gushing over the Titans by has been Dan Deirdorf, we heard him do the exact same thing back in 2001, but there were numerous close plays that the network never showed replays of. Compared to Fox, which not only showed replays of close calls during the Cardinal- Panther game, but showed them from multiple angles, CBS did a horrible job. Whoever produced that telecast should be seeking new emplotment come Monday morning.