Ravens come up short one more time
10:14 p.m. EST, January 22, 2012
For the second straight year, the best team in the American Football Conference will not be playing in the Super Bowl.
RESPONSE: Hey, Mike...whether you like it or not, the AFC championship game determines which team in the best team in the AFC. What's so hard about understanding that?
To call them chokers would be offensive to a team that played so hard against another great team, but the Ravens didn't make plays when they needed to in the biggest game of the year.
RESPONSE: How is it that "the best team in the AFC", your Buzzards, didn't make the plays when they needed to? Doesn't that show that maybe, just maybe, they aren't the best team in the AFC?
RESPONSE: How many years have the Ravens been "the best team in the AFC"? They haven't been to a SB in over a decade.
Receiver Lee Evans dropped a perfectly thrown touchdown pass with 27 seconds left in the game which would have given the Ravens a four-point victory.
RESPONSE: Uhhhh...I saw a Patriots' player, Sterling Moore, knock the ball out of Evans' hands. So...how is that "a drop"? Doesn't Moore deserve some credit for making a good play?
Twelve seconds later, Billy Cundiff's 32-yard field goal attempt, which would have tied the game and probably sent it into overtime, sailed wide left.
RESPONSE: There's a word for that..."choke".
Within seconds of the missed field goal, you could read these words coming from the lips of outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, "Oh my God."
RESPONSE: Oh...sizzle wasn't sizzling, I guess.
"Honestly, the most disappointing part of all this is that I feel personally that I let everybody down," Evans said. "This is the greatest team that I've been on, and I feel like I let everybody down. Yeah, it's on my shoulders. I think Ray gave a good message coming in here. It's hard to sit here and accept how and why things happened, but it's the reality of it. It's as tough as it gets."
There was similar disappointment a year ago in the divisional semifinals in Pittsburgh. The Ravens had taken a 21-7 halftime lead against the hated Steelers, and they blew it with fumbles and interceptions.
RESPONSE: What? The best team in the AFC blew a game by turning the ball over?? Hey Mike...don't the best teams not turn the ball over?
And then in crunch time, in the waning minutes of the game, they gave up a long pass on third-and-18 which eventually led to the game-winning touchdown. But even in that game, the Ravens still had an opportunity to win but receiver Anquan Boldin dropped a touchdown pass in the end zone and fellow receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh dropped a fourth-down pass in Pittsburgh territory to end a last minute drive.
RESPONSE: What? Don't the best teams not drop passes?
The Ravens can't finish.
RESPONSE: Don't the best teams "finish"?
"I think the only thing we can take from this is, if we get into this position again, we've got to come through," tight end Ed Dickson said. "Just little things throughout the game. We were supposed to get beaten by at least seven by this team, and we fought our tails off on defense and offense and special teams. In championship games, the margin of error is very little, and the Patriots pulled it out."
RESPONSE: Isn't that what the "best teams" do?
This was so painful to watch because you thought the Ravens had learned their lesson last season. They played so hard Sunday. Every yard was tough. No team wanted to blink. There were only a few great plays made in the game, but the Ravens couldn't make the necessary ones at the end.
You're hoping they don't turn into the old Minnesota Vikings or Cleveland Browns.
"In the NFL, you have to make big plays in pressure situations and he [Cundiff] missed," New England coach Bill Belichick said.
If the Ravens had finished the Patriots off, this would have been a great turning point in franchise history and for quarterback Joe Flacco. Instead of being a bridesmaid, they would have finally been a bride, at least in the AFC.
But it didn't happen, and there are no more excuses. In the past, fingers were pointed at offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. But on Sunday, he called a good, strong game and had the Patriots totally off balance.
There was skepticism about Flacco, but he outplayed New England's Tom Brady and led one long drive in the third quarter which was phenomenal, and then bounced back after an interception to help produce what should have been a game-winning drive late in the fourth.
You start to feel sympathy for veterans like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin and Cory Redding. Boldin had six catches for 101 yards. Lewis had 12 tackles, and was throwing his body all over the field during a goal-line stand early in the fourth quarter.
Reed knocked down a Brady pass intended for tight end Aaron Hernandez with 1:56 left in the game to help set the stage for the Ravens comeback attempt. You see this and your mind flashes back to when Lewis was younger and the Ravens didn't get to one or two more Super Bowls because they didn't have a quarterback.
Now, they have one and still can't get it done.
RESPONSE: How is it that "the best team in the AGC" can't get it done, Mike?? LOL!!!