Ravens vs. Patriots: Ranking the Top 4 Turning Points of the AFC Championship

Justine BrownCorrespondent IIJanuary 23, 2012

Ravens vs. Patriots: Ranking the Top 4 Turning Points of the AFC Championship

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    The AFC Championship game was jam packed with excitement and gut wrenching plays in a game that went down to the wire.

    When Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff's 32-yard chip shot in the final seconds with an opportunity to push overtime sailed wide left, the result was a heartbreaking loss for the Ravens and deep sigh of relief for the Patriots

    Throughout the game there were numerous plays which held the potential to be major turning points.  

    Here are the top four.

Ravens’ Final Drive

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    The Ravens’ final opportunity to win the game was going well as they steadily drove downfield to the 14-yard line and into scoring position. From there, though, it was all downhill.

    On 2nd-and-1, Lee Evans had a touchdown pass from Flacco in his hands before dropping the ball that would have likely sent Baltimore to the Super Bowl.

    On 3rd-and-1, feeling the pressure from the Patriots defense, Flacco threw a ball incomplete, opting not to make an attempt to run for the one yard. 

    Then came 4th-and-1 from 32 yards out. With an opportunity to push the game into overtime, Ravens’ kicker Billy Cundiff missed a chip shot wide left, resulting in a Patriots victory.   

Tom Brady Touchdown on 4th-and-1

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    Driving to start the fourth quarter, the Patriots got down to the Baltimore 1-yard line, but was denied a touchdown on second and third down. 

    Facing 4th-and-1, the Patriots opted to go for it and were successful, as Tom Brady ran up the middle for the touchdown.

Danny Woodhead Fumble

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    With 9:06 left in the third quarter, the Ravens got the ball trailing New England 16-10, following a New England field goal to start the second half.

    The Ravens then proceeded to score on the following drive to go up 17-16.  On the ensuing kickoff, Patriots’ returner Danny Woodhead fumbled and made what many thought would be the turning point of the game, when the Ravens recovered. 

    The Ravens did convert the fumble into a field goal and four-point lead, but New England answered the following drive with a touchdown to regain the lead.

Brandon Spikes Interception/Jimmy Smith Interception

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    After the Patriots took the 23-20 lead, the Ravens attempted to answer, but with the ball on the New England 46-yard line, Flacco threw a pass which was intercepted by New England's Brandon Spikes. 

    Once again this play seemed to have the potential to be the turning point in the game, because a conversion would result in a two score lead for the Patriots.

    However, on the very next play, Ravens rookie Jimmy Smith answered Spikes with an impressive interception of his own, giving the ball back to the Ravens.