The Baltimore Ravens have spent the 2012/13 playoffs exorcising the demons of postseason's past.
In their first playoff game, on Wild Card Weekend, the Ravens beat the Indianapolis Colts in a game with so many criss-crossing story lines that M. Night Shyamalan would have a hard time keeping up. The Colts just happen to be the franchise that left Baltimore in the middle of the night decades ago leaving so many local fans bitter to this day. They are also the team that took away one of the Ravens best defensive coordinators and a man that the team considered family for their vacant head coaching position.
Why was that head coaching position vacant you ask? Only because the Colts chose to fire Jim Caldwell, a man who had taken them to the Super Bowl just two years prior. Caldwell, as everyone already knows, went on to sign with the Ravens as their quarterbacks coach to bridge the gap between quarterback Joe Flacco and then, much maligned, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Caldwell eventually replaced Cameron as coordinator and was the man calling the plays against his former team in the playoffs. The Colts are also the franchise that had previously bounced the Ravens from the playoffs on several occasions in which they felt they could have won it all. This time Baltimore took care of business in Ray Lewis' swan song season.
Next up on the Ravens docket in the divisional round of the playoffs they got a chance to exact revenge on, probably their biggest playoff nemesis quarterback Peyton Manning who has owned the Ravens over the last decade and was the driving force behind the Colts defeating the Ravens on oh so many occasions.
Baltimore had to travel to Denver on a short week to play a well rested number one seed team that virtually no one gave them a chance against. The birds from Baltimore once again took care of business in a game that will forever remember in Baltimore football legend as they matched Manning and the Broncos touchdown-for-touchdown, forcing the game into double-overtime, where once again it was up to the Ravens kicker to win the game. He did and the Ravens put that ghost to bed as well.
Now the Ravens have made it to the AFC Championship for the second straight year and they have yet another chance to take revenge on an adversary that stopped them from reaching their goal just last season.
As every Raven fan remembers Joe Flacco out-played "Mr. Fantastic" Tom Brady in a game that the Ravens should have won if it were not for a dropped pass by Lee Evans or at least tied if it were not for a missed field goal by Billy Cundiff.
There is no question that these two teams are much different than they were at this point last season but the more things change the more they stay the same. The Ravens have up-graded at kicker and at the third receiver position in hopes that Joe Flacco's efforts will be better received by the rest of the team this time around.
Yet again it is just another chance for this Ravens team to finish what they started last season and go all the way to the Super Bowl, where maybe, just maybe a familiar face in Jim Harbaugh will be waiting with his San Francisco 49ers. This would be the perfect scenario to end the perfect post season. Maybe John could finally beat Jim on the biggest of stages.
On the other side of the coin, Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons could be waiting for the Ravens in New Orleans giving quarterback Joe Flacco a chance to finally show that all the pundits are wrong and he is the elite quarterback he claims to be.
Either way it is going to be a crazy ride that will have high flying emotions and back-stories for all of the national sports media to talk about for weeks.