All I wanted for my 11th birthday was for the Ravens to go to the Super Bowl, and it couldn't have been any better if they toppled my least favorite team, the Patriots in the process. You see, this was my first full season as a true Ravens fan. While I was raised in a Buffalo Bills household, I still didn't fall to my father's ruse of trying to make me become a Bills fan, my thought process was that the Bills 'sucked', and I'd never root for them. However, I still loved the game of football, and it was time for me to pick a team. For some reason, and to this day I don't remember why, I picked the Ravens. I have absolutely no ties to Baltimore or Maryland either. (Air Force Brat here) But it stuck, and here I am today, a die-hard Ravens fan.
I had spent that 2010 offseason researching the Ravens, and learning all about their history and players. By the time the regular season rolled around, I was excited. I was able to witness on TV the absolute thrashing of the Steelers in our 2011 opener as my first Ravens game, it couldn't have been any better. From there, I was able to watch a stellar season unfold before my eyes, as the Ravens went 12-4 and clinched a first-round BYE. Now imagine my excitement when I found out the Ravens would face the Patriots on my birthday for the right to go to the Super Bowl. I hated the Patriots, to be honest it was probably my Dad's hatred of them that sparked it in me. But I really hated the Patriots, not because of their coach, or quarterback, but because of their fans. You see, at our local sports establishment where we would go to watch games, there was this 'posse', if you will, of Patriots fans, who were all old retirees. Their standard cheer was 'Go Brady!', I swear, even if Brady threw a dumpoff pass for a couple yards you could still hear "Go Brady!" all throughout the place. I liked to call them the "Go Brady Bunch", and they were the most annoying people in the world to me, so you could see why I wanted their team to lose.
Anyways, it was a cold January evening in Foxborough at the 2011 AFC Championship Game, the game fell on my birthday, and no one had expected the Ravens to keep it this close. Yet they did, despite being underdogs. The Ravens and Patriots had been battling all evening, and the Ravens were still in it. Joe Flacco, who I had watched all season and grown to love had the ball with 1:44 left to go, and we were only down three points, I believed in him, and couldn't see the game ending in any way other than a Flacco game-winning drive. This seemed to come true, as Anquan Boldin caught three receptions, and moved the Ravens down to the 13-yard line. I then saw Flacco thread the needle to Lee Evans who proceeded to haul it in, fail to secure it, and then have it batted away by Sterling Moore. This was tragic.
However, this was only the second worst play of the day. As little did I know, but I was about to witness the first, and most heartbreaking play I've seen to this day. Billy Cundiff stepping up and absolutely sailing the kick wide left. Had he made the kick, it would've forced overtime. What would've happened then? No one knows, but the heartbreak of not knowing was enough. The definition of heartbreak in the dictionary should be something like "watching your favorite team come so close to victory, and then lose." It was bad.
However, revenge is sweet, and it came in the form of the legendary 2012 playoff run. I was able to witness one of the greatest playoff performances in NFL history, and see the 'Mile High Miracle'. I may have not been around to see Ed and Ray in their prime, but I got to see them lift a Lombardi Trophy. That was great, and erased the misery of last year's fiasco.
I sincerely hope I, and other Ravens fans never have to go through a similar ordeal again, of not knowing what could've been because of a missed kick.