Jan 20, 2013; Foxboro, MA, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones (12) celebrates after defeating the New England Patriots 28-13 in the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Lamar Hunt is one of the greatest inspirations in the history of sports. Hunt’s inspiration expands beyond the football field. He was not only the principal founder of the AFL, but also the founder of the MLS and the North American Soccer League. There aren’t too many people in the NFL who are on a higher pedestal than Lamar Hunt. In fact, Hunt has such a high praise throughout the league that the AFC Championship trophy is named after him; the Lamar Hunt Trophy.
In my opinion, last year was one of the greatest AFC Championship games in recent memory. The Baltimore Ravens made the trip to Foxboro to take on the Patriots. The Patriots, who were the favorites to win, went onto win the game after then Ravens kicker, Billy Cundiff, missed what was normally a “chip shot” for him; however, the Patriots went onto lose in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants. Heading into this year’s championship game, everything seemed the same. It was a rematch between the two teams, and yet again the Patriots were favored, and yet again the game was played in New England. Even though everything looked the same on paper, things were way different on the field. The Patriots, who were fighting to hold onto the lead last year, were fighting just to stay alive in the game this year. The Patriots, who seemed all high and mighty after walking into halftime with a 13-7 lead, were anything but that in the second half, after they were shutout by Ray Lewis and the Ravens hard-hitting, smash mouth defense. The talk of whether this Ravens defense will be able to keep up with Brady, or if Flacco can make the next step all seemed to come to a complete halt after the Ravens dominated the second half, winning the game 28-13, advancing to the Super Bowl for just the second time in the history of the franchise.
There a many reasons as to why you can say the Ravens won this game. Below I am going to give you the three main reasons as to why I believe the Ravens came out victorious.
Reason Number Three: Ray Lewis
As the regular season came to a close, the Ravens were struggling just to find a win. A team that was limping into the playoffs wasn’t exactly getting a lot of praise heading into the playoffs. I myself was skeptical of the Ravens heading into the tournament; however, everything seemed to change once Ray Lewis announced that he will be hanging up the cleats at the end of the season. It seemed as if the locker room was re-energized and had found a spark that they have been missing since around week 10, when they defeated the Oakland Raiders 55-20. The thought of getting their leader, Ray Lewis to the Super Bowl one last time really seemed to help the team throughout the playoffs. After a huge comeback victory in Denver two weeks ago, there wasn’t any doubt in the player’s mind that they could go into New England and take care of business against Tom Brady and the Patriots, and they did just that. Last night was definitely an emotional win for this team. It will be interesting to see how this defense responds to the dual threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Reason Number Three: Heartbreak
Like I said earlier in the article, last season the Patriots defeated the Ravens in the championship game. Although it is never a good thing to lose, losing last year’s game made this team hungrier than they had ever been. After losing this game last year, the Ravens were a heartbroken team; however; the heartbreak only went onto help them this year as they did not want to feel that feeling again. The Ravens came out inspired to win this football game, and they did just that.
Jan 20, 2013; Foxboro, MA, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) looks to pass in the first half against the New England Patriots of the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
Reason Number One: The Maturation Of Joe Flacco
Heading into the season Flacco endured a lot of criticism after he stated that he believed he was the best quarterback in the National Football League. Although he has had success in his young professional football career, not too many people thought of him as elite. His inconsistencies have been holding him back tremendously during his five year career. Year after year he would have his ups and downs during the season; however, year after year you would still see Baltimore in the playoffs. This year was kind of the same. Don’t get me wrong, Flacco had a really good year. It just wasn’t a great one. With Flacco you never really know what you’re going to get. For example, week 13 against the Steelers he had a passer rating of 61.9 and then the next week his rating was 121.4 and then the week after it dropped back down into the 70’s. Even in the playoffs the past few years, Flacco hasn’t really shown up. This year is different. His new found confidence has turned him into a brand new quarterback and last night we witnessed the full maturation of Joe Flacco. Who would’ve thought that Flacco would be able to go into New England as the underdog and completely manhandle the Patriots, while outplaying possibly the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL; Tom Brady. Last night we witnessed something very special. I still don’t think of Flacco as a top five quarterback in this league, but after last night it’s hard not to call him an elite quarterback. When you look up the definition elite in the dictionary, this is what pops up; the best or most skilled members of a group. Last night Flacco was the most skilled player on that field and as a result, the Ravens are playing in the most “elite” game in all of sports.
Those are my three reasons why the Ravens won last night’s game. The Ravens will now go onto play the San Francisco 49ers coached by Jim Harbaugh. The two brothers will face off in what will sure to be a fantastic “SuperBaugh” as the two teams are so similar, yet so different in many different phases of the game.
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