Coach John Harbaugh, nose reddened by the cold and in need of something - anything - to warm him up, stepped to the podium after Sunday’s game and summed it up perfectly with one question.
“Will we ever see another game like that again?” he asked.
The Ravens and Vikings combined for 36 points in the last 2:05 of the contest with all five touchdowns coming in a matter of 121 seconds.
That would’ve been something to behold even if the rest of the game were that kind of a whirlwind. But it was especially remarkable after the teams combined for just 19 points over the first 57:55. On top of that, it was played in the snow, with a steady downpour throughout the day blanketing the field for the entire contest.
Five times in the last 2:05 did one team or the other believe it had the game-winning touchdown.
“I lost count,” Harbaugh said. “I couldn’t be more proud of our guys. ... To see some of that stuff play out on the field of battle like that in that kind of environment, as a coach, as a fan, as a player, as a parent, whatever, I hope people see the greatness of sports in a game like this and what it could mean for all of us. That was a great fight and I think it’s one we’ll all remember.”
Quarterback Joe Flacco had a difficult time finding the words to wrap up such an incredible finish to the Ravens’ 29-26 victory, the team’s third straight and fourth in five games.
Does it measure up to the Ravens’ Mile High Miracle - the double-overtime win in last season’s divisional playoff in Denver?
“I think this is probably crazier,” Flacco said. “That one was probably a little more exciting, just because of what was on the line. But when you look at this, similar things were on the line, just not at the same time of year. It’s not necessarily a playoff game - that was one score in over a minute. In the time period that Jacoby (Jones) scored that touchdown in the Denver game, I think we probably scored three touchdowns in this game.”
Let’s break down the last 2:05 of the contest with comments from the key players:
* Having fallen behind 12-7 early in the fourth quarter, the Ravens got nothing going until a nine-play, 64-yard drive late in the quarter. That series ended with a 1-yard touchdown pass gunned by Flacco to Dennis Pitta on fourth down at the 1 with 2:05 remaining, giving Pitta his first touchdown of the season in his first game back from hip surgery.
“Actually, the defense wasn’t really what we liked from that play,” Pitta said. “I think I was able to kind of get open in some man-to-man coverage, and Joe did a good job of putting the ball on me where I could make a play. It was always tough to catch the ball kind of away from your body today because of the conditions and the wetness. But he did a good job putting it on me, and we were able to get what I thought was the game-winning score at the time, but ended up being just one of many.”
Baltimore led 15-12 after a seven-yard two-point conversion pass from Flacco to Torrey Smith. The Ravens had been flagged for false start, pushing them back five yards. But Flacco lofted the ball to Smith in the back of the end zone while scrambling away from pressure.
* The Vikings answered almost immediately, needing just two offensive snaps and 38 seconds to retake the lead, 19-15, on a 41-yard run by Toby Gerhart. Minnesota started the drive with a 27-yard pass from Matt Cassel to Jerome Simpson.
Then Gerhart broke tackle after tackle to rumble his way into the end zone for the second potential game-winning score with 1:27 on the clock.
* The following touchdown came even quicker than that. Jones didn’t even wait for an offensive snap to literally return the lead to the Ravens.
Jones took a popped-up Blair Walsh kickoff 77 yards back for a touchdown just 11 seconds after Gerhart scored. That gave Baltimore a 22-19 advantage with 1:16 remaining.
“All week in practice, we’d been working on people kicking us sky kicks,” Jones said. “After a while, they get nervous or they weren’t going to kick the ball deep to us. They popped it up, and I was able to get the ball, and they did a great job of blocking it for me - (Kyle Juszczyk, Pernell McPhee and Vonta Leach). That thing parted like the Red Sea, or you can say the Red Snow.”
* It was then the Vikings’ turn to answer, and they did. Following two incompletions by Cassel, the Minnesota quarterback connected with Cordarrelle Patterson for a wide receiver screen. And Patterson found a seam to turn that into a 79-yard touchdown catch.
The Vikings were back on top 26-22 with 45 seconds to go.
* The Ravens had the final response.
They got the ball back with 45 seconds on the clock and it seemed like a typical no-hope scenario with a touchdown-or-bust drive ahead.
It didn’t turn out that way.
Flacco found Marlon Brown for a 35-yard pass deep over the middle, advancing Baltimore from its own 20 to the Minnesota 45.
Two plays later, Flacco looked Pitta’s way, but was intercepted by Andrew Sandejo, who had a pick earlier in the day. But the play was called back, giving the Ravens life because linebacker Chad Greenway was called for pass interference - an 18-yard penalty that gave Baltimore the ball at the Vikings’ 27.
Two plays after that, Flacco hooked up with Pitta for an 18-yard gain, moving the Ravens to the 9 for first-and-goal with 10 seconds remaining.
And on the very next snap after a timeout, Flacco saw Brown in the back of the end zone and got it there for a 9-yard touchdown with four seconds on the clock, giving Baltimore a 29-26 lead.
“We lined up and it was Cover-2, and I just kind of slipped my guy, and it was a great ball by Joe. It’s pretty simple,” Brown said.
At first, it was unclear whether Brown got both feet down inbounds. But replays showed he kicked up snow with both and the play was upheld after a lengthy review. Even Brown doubted initially.
“I mean, a little bit,” he said. “After I caught it and I got up and I looked and I (saw) my feet drag and I was like, ‘All right, I’m in.’ “
Matt Asiata returned the final kickoff 20 yards to the Ravens’ 48, but the clock had run out and the madness was over.
No one on the Ravens had experienced anything like that last 2:05.
“I’ve never played in a game like that. I’ve never even played a video game like that. That’s probably the craziest thing I’ve ever been a part of,” cornerback Jimmy Smith said. “That was a roller coaster of emotions. We scored, they scored, we scored, then they scored. I was speechless.”
Flacco finished 28-for-50 for 245 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Brown had career highs of seven catches and 92 receiving yards, as well as his sixth receiving touchdown of the year. Pitta added six catches for 48 yards and a score.
Ray Rice ran for 67 yards and added five catches for 42 yards in a nice effort. Like Smith, that kind of finish was new to him as well.
“Oh man, I’ve never been on a roller coaster like that before,” Rice said. “It was one of those things... it was quite the ending. What we can take out of that is that we fought for each other. I’ve always said this is a resilient bunch, and it showed out there today. I don’t know what favor from above we got, but the Minnesota Vikings are not a bad football team. They’ve caught a couple of bad breaks this year. ...
“That is a tough-fighting bunch. The run game didn’t come easy for us today. Those are big, tall, strong, physical guys in there, but this was sweet. A three-game winning streak, and every game matters.”