Tag: NOLA

Storybook Season Gets a Storybook Ending: Ravens are World Champs!

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Words: Kyle Simpson, Ravens Corespondent

Baltimore, MD – You could not write a better ending for the last ride of Ray Lewis. Becoming a Super Bowl champion after making one last goal line stand to win the game? It is the stuff of legend, made a reality Sunday night.

The 10-6 Baltimore Ravens pulled off what nearly everybody said was impossible. They beat the “unstoppable” offense of the 49ers and brought the Lombardi back to Baltimore for the second time. Not even a freak power outage can stop the team of destiny on their path to glory.

The Ravens came out strong, drawing first blood with a Joe Flacco touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin. That would be the first of three touchdowns thrown by the Super Bowl MVP, Joe Flacco, last night. He would throw one to Pitta and another miracle bomb to Jacoby Jones in the 2nd quarter. Putting the Ravens up 21-6 going into halftime “part one” (more on that in a second). The Ravens put up a strong performance for the first half.

They had all the momentum leading into Beyonce’s halftime show, and for the first minute and a half after it. Jacoby Jones returned a beautiful 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown (Gardener’s Furniture made a bet saying that if the Ravens returned either the opening or the second half kickoff for a touchdown, any and all furniture bought before 3 PM on Sunday was free. Whoops). It was 28-6 at the start of the second half and it looked like the Ravens were going to have just as easy of a win as they did in 2001.

Some could say they were playing “light’s out”.

Then the lights actually went out (forgive that terrible pun). Nobody really knows how, or why, but they did. And that moment changed the tempo of the game. Instead of continuing to pound the 49ers, they got a 35-minute half time “part two” to regroup and catch their breath. Shifting the momentum from purple and black to the burgundy and gold. And it showed. They scored 17 unanswered points in what was probably the worst 3rd quarter I have ever witnessed. But the 3rd quarter doesn’t matter.

Games are won in the 4th quarter (or the 6th if you are in Denver).

Continuing their drive from the 3rd quarter, the Ravens finally got back on the board with a field goal from Justin Tucker. It was now 31-23. San Francisco answered with a drive that ended in Colin Kapernick running 15 yards for the longest rushing touchdown by a quarterback in Super Bowl history. The 49ers needed the two point conversion to tie, and thanks to Ed Reed getting in Kapernick’s face, they did not get it. 31-29 and the Ravens are desperately holding on. They would get one last field goal to make it 34-29 in the last two minutes of the game.

This would be the point where I should have asked my father why we did not have a family cardiologist.

The 49ers marched down the field and got to the five yard line to wind the clock down to the two minute warning. It was second and goal.

My heart has never beat so fast.

Ray Lewis’ last series would be a goal line stand for the Lombardi trophy. First was a pass that incomplete in the end zone. Exhale. 3rd down. They tried to air it out again to Michael Crabtree who got crushed by Jimmy Smith, knocking the ball incomplete. No exhaling this time. It was down to this.
4th down. This was it.

San Francisco snaps the ball. Passes is up to Crabtree again. Incomplete! Exhale.

Hugs were shared between my family and I, but we all knew it was not over yet. With just over 1:45 left on the clock, the Ravens did all they could do to wind the clock down. They pounded the ball on the ground and force the 49ers to use their last timeout. Two more unsuccessful runs brought up 4th and long.

This is where the Ravens got real crafty. They hike the ball to Sam Koch in the end zone and he keeps it in the backfield to keep the clock running. As time ticks away, Koch is dancing to avoid being tackled and runs out of the end zone to take the safety and leave the 49ers with four seconds on the clock. That special teams brilliance was a far cry from the gaffed fake field goal in the first half.

The Ravens punt the ball away and shut down the return to seal the victory. 34-31. CBS cut to a shot of Ray Lewis embracing Ed Reed (who was ridiculously giddy about winning the Super Bowl in his home town) and Terrell Suggs. Chykie Brown was making confetti angels.

Joe Flacco was MVP (pay the man already) and Ray Lewis was hoisting the Lombardi trophy for his last game. Ever. There really couldn’t be a better ending to this season of ups and downs.

It was surreal at first: the fact that my birds had won the Super Bowl. That idea really set in on Monday morning when I picked up my copy of The Baltimore Sun and “CHAMPIONS” was plastered on the front. I have been grinning ever since. All the haters, doubters, pundits, and analysts were all proven wrong. Baltimore was the real deal. Baltimore deserved respect. Baltimore had earned this victory. And that victory was so sweet. I did not sleep that much Sunday night. But the loss of sleep was so worth it. So, so, so worth it.

Hail to the Ravens!

Roller Coaster Season Makes One Last Stop

Harbowl

Words: Kyle Simpson, Ravens Corespondent

Baltimore, MD – “We have the opportunity to go on and finish what we started… Ravens on three,” said Ray Lewis after the devastating loss in New England last season.

A roller coaster does not even begin to describe this Ravens’ season. There were ups, downs, loops, times of excitement, and times where you were about ready to lose your lunch. But it has always been that way. Deep down, the Ravens really are a box of chocolates. You really never know what you are going to get.

It was a rough start. Reading the news post “Defending Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs Tears Achilles Tendon”. That would be when the groaning began for me. It did not help that on top of losing our best player on defense, guys like Jarret Johnson and Corey Redding were snatched away in the free agency blitz. Let’s not forget the Ravens lost their third defensive coordinator in three years, Chuck Pagano, to the Colts head coach job. These situations just showed me that last season was our season to go all the way. I found myself saying that a lot leading up to this season. I was muttering “Last year was the year…” while I watched Skip Bayless affirm that the Ravens have zero chance without Suggs on the field. Questions were flying about the Ravens’ fate. Will Joe Flacco be able to lead the team anywhere? What will the Ravens be like without a dominant Terrell Suggs? All questions would be answered soon. But one event brought about a turning point, I believe for the Ravens this season.

Four days before kickoff, former Ravens owner Art Modell passed away. He was the man who brought football back to a city who desperately missed it. An emotional Ravens organization painted a black circle with one word: “Art” on the field and the player’s jerseys featured the same black logo. Ray Lewis made a promise to Art Modell. That he would bring back the Lombardi to Baltimore. Lewis fully intended to keep that promise to the man he called “Pa-Pa”.

The moment of truth. Opening day against the Bengals. Here we were again, kicking off against a division rival, just like last year. Gave them a good trouncing like opening day of the previous year as well. Aside from the game against the Giants later on that year, the first Bengal game was the only time I saw Super Bowl potential in this squad. It was only the beginning of a turbulent season though.

Week two reared its ugly head. The Ravens had not won in week two in four straight years, and that trend continued, losing to the Eagles in their home opener by one point. Not the way they wanted to return to Baltimore to face the Patriots. The team that ended their season last year. I was reading up on the game when the text alert came through: Torrey Smith’s brother, Tevin Smith, had passed away that earlier morning in a motorcycle accident. He was a game time decision in a game we desperately needed everybody we could get. To my surprise he walked out on that field and had a career day. I have never been so proud to be a Ravens fan until Smith got a standing ovation from the crowd as he took a knee after he scored the first touchdown that game. Tevin Smith was the second turning point of the season. Inspiring the team further make sure that they finished what they started.

After a dicey 9-6 victory in Kansas City, the Ravens returned to face the Cowboys. The boys in purple won off of a missed field goal. But at a cost. Lardarius Webb went down with a torn ACL, never to return to the field this season. And Ray Lewis tore his triceps, what everybody thought was a season – or career – ending injury. But he and Ozzie Newsome told the team and fans that they would see Ray back again this season. They just didn’t know when.

The Ravens would go on to get trounced by Houston, the bright side being Terrell Suggs retook the field through some sort of medical miracle. More questions began to arise about if the Ravens were actually contenders for the AFC title. The Ravens would win the next four games leading into the darkest moment of the season.

The three game slide. The Ravens had not lost at M&T Bank Stadium in a little less than two years. But the Steelers, of course, would break that streak. Then, after special teams gaffed their punt coverage, the Redskins would hand the Ravens their first back-to-back loss in four years. And to cap it off, the Broncos embarrassed the Ravens at home. “Last year was the year…” I muttered walking out of M&T Bank Stadium that day. Things were looking bleak. The Baltimore Sun’s head line the next day was “Flattened” with a picture of Joe Flacco face down after trying to prevent his 90-yard pick six from happening. Was Flacco worth a new contract? Should the Ravens draft a new quarterback in the draft like Seattle did?

For the fourth straight week, the Ravens had the ability to clinch the AFC North and a home playoff game. But they had to go through little Manning and the defending Super Bowl champion Giants. The Ravens came out strong in their last regular season home game. The energy that the Broncos had taken away from the fans all came back and the Baltimore crowd that we know and love was back in action. The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army echoed through out Baltimore as the Ravens clinched the division and were guaranteed a home game.

The week leading up to the AFC Wild Card game brought the third turning point of the season for the Ravens. “All things that begin, have an end… and for me, today, I told my team this is my last ride.” The 17-year legend that was Ray Lewis was retiring. I feel that this was the point where everybody was put into high gear. It was New Orleans or bust for the men in purple and black to get the man that had given everything to them, one more ring.

Lewis’ final home game was a truly emotional experience. I’ve never seen so many grown football fans cry than I did during Lewis’ final tunnel dance (I’ll admit I was tearing up, too). The victory was a perfect end to cap off Lewis’ home game career. The Ride was on the road from here on out. And we all remember how that went down.

The Ravens were underdogs then entire way. Favored to lose by at least nine points for both Denver and New England. Both times Anquan Boldin said, “It will be different”. Both times were different. The Ravens proved they were resilient in the double over time win at Mile High. they proved they were ready to hoist the Lombardi after taking down Tom Brady and the Partiots. And now they have a chance to do just that. Hoist the trophy and give Lewis one more ring.

The trend continues this weekend. The Ravens are not favored, down by four and a half points, most analysts are saying that Colin Kapernick will pick apart the Ravens defense and Joe Flacco will be stunned by the 49ers defense. Have we not heard this for the last four weeks? “The Patriots offense is unstoppable…” or “The Broncos are unbeatable…”. The Ravens have proved time and again that they do not follow the trends. So I reach out to the analysts and say: please. Keep counting the Ravens out. They love it.

“What if we do the impossible? If there is anything I’ll miss about my career, it’s listening to what people say you can’t do and then going and doing it,” commented Ray Lewis in his post game press conference after the Mile High miracle.

The Ravens are out to do the impossible. The Ravens have done the impossible this season.

My prediction? Gear up for the parade: 30-24, Ravens come out champs and Joe Flacco’s agent will be busy with Ozzie Newsome.