This is the 3rd time in the Ravens 16 year history that they’ve knocked on the Super Bowl door playing for the AFC championship. Eleven years ago the Ravens intimidating defense kicked the door in as they smothered the Raiders 16-3 in the Black Hole in Oakland.
The toughest part of that one may have been the pre-game bus ride through the stadium parking lot. I’ll never forget the view, eggs flying our way with grand-mothers and 8-year olds giving the Ravens team buses the middle finger salute. The Raiders weren’t nearly as tough as those rowdy fans. Two plays defined this game.
Early in the 2nd quarter it was scoreless the Ravens faced a 3rd and 18 from their own 4. What a time for the games only touchdown! Trent Dilfer hit Shannon Sharpe who sprinted for a 96 yard score, the longest pass in NFL playoff history.
Dilfer to Sharpe staggered the Raiders then “Goose” delivered the knockout punch. Tony Siragusa’s second quarter pancake sack of Rich Gannon knocked the quarterback out of the game and ended the Raiders chances. The Ravens were off to Tampa and a Super Bowl XXXV win over the Giants.
The Ravens only other AFC title game was in Pittsburgh after the 2008 season. Joe Flacco had a shot to become the first rookie quarterback to take his team to the Super Bowl. The Steelers didn’t cooperate. Pittsburgh jumped out to 13-0 lead and were up 16-7 in the 4th quarter, but Willis McGahee’s 2nd TD of the game cut the lead to 16-14 with nearly 10 minutes left. The Ravens had a shot, but shot themselves in the foot.
Baltimore’s Darren Stone committed an unnecessary roughness penalty that cost the Ravens field position (moving them from near midfield to their own 14) at a critical point in the game. Late in the game Troy Polamalu scored on a pick 6, the Steelers won 23-14 and followed with the Big Ben to Santonio Holmes last second win over Arizona in the Super Bowl.
So here we go Baltimore, round 3 for the Lamar Hunt Trophy, the AFC Title and a chance to go to Indianapolis.
You might not know……
*Terrell Suggs has 10 sacks in 10 postseason games. Only 5 players have more since the stat became official.
*Ed Reed has 8 postseason interceptions. With one more he’ll tie 3 players for the most in playoff history.
*With a win Sunday Joe Flacco will be the first QB in NFL history to win 50 games (including playoffs) as a starter in his first 4 seasons. If he gets his 6th playoff win Flacco will tie Tom Brady for most playoff wins in his first 4 seasons.
The Ravens rock hard defense against the Patriots prolific offense, that’s a championship matchup. And when Tom Brady and Ray Lewis play gridiron chess it’ll be the first time in Conference Championship history that a Super Bowl MVP quarterback has faced a Super Bowl MVP linebacker. A game Lamar Hunt would be proud to have his name on.