Baltimore Ravens fans and players have been waiting for this moment ever since January 22, 2012 when the Ravens were a near game winning touchdown pass and a game tying missed field goal away from returning to the Super Bowl for the first time since the daunting 2000 Baltimore defense led the team to its only Super Bowl appearance and victory.
To set the mood for this Sunday, we will unfortunately relive last year's AFC Championship by recapping it here today. Other than the result, it truly was a great football game as both teams had a lead, and the game never saw a lead of more than seven points.
Baltimore lead by four points early in the fourth quarter before New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady ran in for the go ahead touchdown from one yard out to give the Patriots a 23-20 lead. The Ravens would get into New England territory three times after the Patriots took the lead, but could not capitalize. The ultimate heartbreak for Ravens fans came in their final drive of the game. With 27 seconds remaining in the game, Baltimore had drove down to the New England 14 yardline after Joe Flacco and Anquan Boldin hooked up four times to drive down the field and put the Ravens in position to win the game, if not at least tie it and send it to overtime, but then the things nightmares are made of occurred.
Flacco threw a magnificent pass that threaded the needle to the right side of the end zone to Lee Evans and Evans had the ball in his hands but couldn't gain control of the ball before Patriots cornerback Sterling Moore knocked the ball out of his hands. It was a good play by Moore, but a ball that Evans should have caught for the game winner. Although the opportunity to win the game in regulation was gone, a short 31 yard field goal attempt was forthcoming to send it to overtime as Baltimore sent Billy Cundiff on to attempt the kick. Despite connecting on two field goals earlier in the game, Cundiff's kick sailed wide left and the ultimate heartbreak had set in.
Fans and players alike couldn't believe it, but the Patriots had won, and Baltimore was sent home with a terrible taste in their mouth. The Ravens defense played a heck of a game holding the potent Patriots offensive attack to just 330 total yards and picked off Brady twice, but an Evans drop and a Cundiff missed kick made it all for not. Flacco played one of his best playoff games of his career completing 22 of 33 pass attempts for 306 yards with two touchdowns and one interception and easily out played his counterpart in Brady.
This Sunday provides the Ravens with the rare opportunity of exact revenge as they are meeting under the same circumstances, it is the AFC Championship with a chance to go to the Super Bowl in Foxboro, what more could the Ravens ask for? Both, so called "goats" of last year's game in Evans and Cundiff are no longer in Baltimore and the Ravens are riding the fantastic rookie kicker in Justin Tucker and using an underrated receiving core. As emotional as Saturday's win over the Denver Broncos was, this Sunday sets up to be just as, if not more emotional with the Super Bowl on the line.
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