Living on the Threshold of A Championship
Louie Krauss, Writer
February 13, 2012
Filed under Sports
The Ravens seem to have a reputation for pushing the limits of how close they can get to the super bowl. If the Ravens had won one more game the last 4 years, they would have had an astonishingly easy trip to a super bowl berth. Much like a stunt pilot flying as close to a cliff as possible, our football team seems to always get just a little bit closer to attending the super bowl.
At the end of the AFC championship game against the Patriots with only 22 seconds remaining, Lee Evans had a touchdown pass in his arms but didn’t squeeze onto the ball tight enough to get his feet down in time. If he had the ball about 1/10 of a second longer, the Ravens would have been in the super bowl against the Giants because his feet would have both touched the ground with possession. People can agonize over Billy Cundiff missing a game-tying kick, but it’s Evans’ drop that was worse because he had Baltimore’s ticket to the super bowl in his arms and just dropped it. All the fans in Baltimore had a feeling of success; a brief feeling that we were in the super bowl at that very moment, only to trip over our shoelaces on the last step of what was sure to be a memorable comeback to lead the team all the way to Indianapolis. As Michael Wilbon from ESPN put it: “This was such a terrible loss for Baltimore. This was like going up forty-love with the ball and faulting four times to lose the match!”
What makes the loss even harder to swallow, is the fact that the Ravens played almost a perfect game while the Patriots’ “god-like” group of receivers could do nothing against the veteran Raven defense. On top of that, Joe Flacco did the opposite of what we wanted him to do; silence the critics with a good performance like Brady and Manning usually have. As Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston commonly says, the Ravens need to be themselves and “win ugly.” In this last playoff heartbreak, we learned that Flacco doesn’t need to lead the team to the superbowl, he needs his entire team to take themselves there. I simply hope this team never stoops to the dysfunctional level of the Jets and instead bonds as a whole unit so it never comes down to Evans and Cundiff singlehandedly losing the game.
Similar Results Haunt Ravens
After seeing the same reasons for losing in the playoffs the last two years, it’s clear the ravens have only one spot that needs improvement to win the championship: clutch receivers. Seeing Evans drop that pass was eerily similar to Houshmendzadeh and Boldin dropping perfect passes in the playoffs last year. It’s something innate that can’t be taught or scouted in the draft, it’s something the team needs to build with chemistry together. Watch the highlights of Flacco and Dennis Pitta, his favorite tight end. They believe their consistency with passing and catching comes not from talent, but from friendship. They often hang out together and know the little details of each other which helps them know what routes to run and where to throw. If better chemistry can be made between all the players on the Ravens team, they can more naturally be successful in the years to come and not have the crazy season they experienced this year.