It was all going so horribly wrong.
The Ravens were down 24-6 at halftime, and were poised to drop a game to a struggling, one-win team for the second straight week.
Then, seemingly in an instant, it all turned.
The Ravens ripped off three touchdowns in their first four second half drives, putting up 21 points over a 13-minute span. They forced two punts and grabbed an interception on Arizona’s three third quarter series, and before you knew it, that 18-point deficit had turned into a three-point lead, marking the largest comeback in franchise history.
I don’t know about you, but it had me thinking that someone must’ve delivered one hell of a halftime speech. Turns out, that didn’t happen. The locker room was pretty quiet, players and coaches said.
“There really wasn’t much to say,” wide receiver Anquan Boldin said. “We know we played poor as an offense in the first half, and we felt like this team wasn’t better than us, point-blank. Even though they were up, 24-6, we felt like we were able to go out and put drives together and put points on the board.
“We woke up, plain and simple. Our offense came out flat. We turned the ball over a couple times. We felt like we gave them 14 points. We just woke up in the second half. We knew that we couldn’t keep putting our defense in that situation. Still had a bitter taste in our mouth from last week; so we wanted to come out and rectify that.”
When a team has such a dramatic turnaround in such a small period of time, we want to find a reason, something that can be pointed to and replicated in future times when the team gets into a rough stretch.
As boring as it may be, head coach John Harbaugh said that the discussion at halftime merely centered around execution. No big-picture talks about changing the gameplan or needing to make sweeping adjustments to schemes. Just go out there and get the job done.
“The thing we talked about was what we needed to do, every time we get the ball, we need to score some points,” Harbaugh said. “It didn’t happen. We didn’t score every time. But, our thought needed to be to find a way to score something, even if it was a field goal. Whatever it was. We had to take every drive and make something out of it, if we could, and then we had to get stops.”
It’s not sexy, but it sure was effective.
As poorly as they played in the first half - turning the ball over twice and failing to reach the end zone - the Ravens completely flipped the switch in the second. They outscored the Cardinals 24-3 in the final 30 minutes, outgaining them 249 yards to 56 (Arizona had negative-one passing yards in that span) and posting 18 first downs to the Cardinals’ six.
“We’re fighters. We’re warriors,” safety Bernard Pollard said. “We’re out to fight for 60 minutes. Anytime you see teams go down 21 points, 27 points, they give up. But I think you see the warriors in us. We struggled. We came together as a team. We fixed what needed to be fixed, as far as the first half, and we shut them down. That’s what it’s about. We shut them down.”