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Why the Ending of the Ravens-Vikings Game was Not (as) Surprising

Patrick Smith

Most of Baltimore is still recovering from the final 2:05 of the Ravens- Vikings game on Sunday, a span of a little more than two minutes that featured five touchdowns to give the Ravens the 29-26 win. The ending featured three clutch Ravens’ touchdowns, two by Joe Flacco, and two blown leads by the defense that could have (should have?) cost the Ravens the game. While the late game offensive heroics and defensive disappointments surprised everybody, they were not as unexpected as previously thought.

This goes all the way back to week three versus the Buffalo Bills. Entering the fourth quarter, the Ravens were trailing 23-14. The offense struggled most of the game, but put together two drives of 74 and 50 yards, respectively, that both ended in field goals to bring the game within three. The ensuing offensive drive ended in an interception by Flacco, but the defense looked like they would make the stop and give the Ravens another chance. That was until Terrell Suggs had an unnecessary roughness call to give the Bills a first down and the win.

Next was the Miami Dolphins in week five, where Justin Tucker kicked the go ahead 44-yard field goal with less than two minutes left to break the 23-23 tie and win the game.

The very next week against the Green Bay Packers was a heartbreaker. The Ravens offense was truly terrible, entering the fourth quarter losing 16-3. Joe Flacco then rattled off two touchdowns when the game mattered to bring the game within two. Just as the defense was about to get the ball back to the revitalized offense, Packers veteran tight end Jermichael Finley ripped off a 52 yard reception off of Ravens’ rookie Matt Elam.

Now it is week seven. Down by seven late in the fourth, Joe Flacco lead an efficient 16 play 73 yard drive capped off by a Dallas Clark touchdown. With overtime imminent, the defense let the Pittsburgh Steelers march down the field and kick a field goal with time expiring.

Following the bye week, the same story line prevailed in week nine. The stagnant offense finally brought the game within three versus the Cleveland Browns in the fourth quarter, but once again the defense failed to make the stop and allowed a Jason Campbell led attack take 6 minutes 30 seconds off the clock and score a field goal to seal the Ravens’ loss.

The late game defensive letdowns continued however, as the following week A.J. Green and the Bengals scored a Hail Mary touchdown as time expired to send the game into overtime, where the Ravens would finally win behind a Justin Tucker field goal.

The following game took place in a stormy Chicago where Joe Flacco lead another impressive 15 play 81 yard field goal late in the fourth quarter to let Tucker kick another field goal in the last minute to send the game into overtime. This overtime, however, would feature a defensive letdown, as the Bears would win.

The Thanksgiving day game against the Pittsburgh Steelers would again come down to the wire, as it took a failed Steeler two point conversion with a minute left in the game to get the win, despite the defense’s best efforts to keep the Steelers in the game.

This entire season has been defined by a struggling offense and dominant defense for the first three quarters and then a clutch offense and ineffective defense in the final minutes, with no games fitting this description better than the insane, snowy Vikings game this past weekend. The Ravens need to put everything together if they truly hope to make a post season run. 

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