In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I got to thinking about how thankful I am for this 2012 Baltimore Ravens team.
I started looking back on the crazy season up to this point, and thought about the ups and downs that the Ravens have gone through so far. Naturally, I started replaying some of the highlights in my head.
One game, much less one play, often defines a team. Which is why I wondered if I could narrow down five single plays from the season that were impossible to ignore.
How about any of the big plays from Torrey Smith that we get excited about every time Joe Flacco throws deep?
Terrell "T-Sizzle" "Hacksaw" Suggs would surely make the list after making his improbable speedy recovery from surgery on his Achilles tendon, right?
The following five plays are the ones that stand above the rest through the Ravens' first 10 games this season.
Did I miss any plays that you think should have made this list instead? If so, let me know.
With the third quarter coming to a close, Andy Dalton and the Bengals were looking to put together a touchdown drive that would have put them within one score of the Ravens. Ed Reed had other ideas, however, as he returned a tipped pass 34 yards for the score.
Reed has made so many huge plays for the Ravens over the years, and this one was no different. Instead of allowing the Bengals to creep back in the game with a score, this touchdown with 13 seconds left in the third quarter put the Ravens up by 21 points. It provided the emphatic nail in the coffin to seal Baltimore's Week 1 victory.
In the video, check out Joe Flacco going to the back of the end zone to celebrate with Reed and the other defensive players. Gotta love that.
While the game was finally decided after Dez Bryant failed to haul in the tying two-point conversion in the final minute, the most memorable play was Jones’s NFL record-tying return at the beginning of the third quarter. His return of 108 yards is tied for the longest kickoff return in NFL history and electrified the Ravens on their way to an exciting 31-29 victory, giving them a 5-1 record at the time.
Think we’ll ever see a 109-yarder on a kickoff return?
[Note: I couldn't find a clip of this single play on YouTube, but if you skip ahead to the :43 mark of this video you will see the play.]
This play did not seal a win for the Texans because it happened at the beginning of the second quarter, but it is the most standout moment from this game. The Texans had already generated points on defense with a first quarter safety, and this pick-six really seemed to deflate the Ravens after this play put Houston ahead, 16-3.
The Ravens were getting dominated on both sides of the ball, and a score on this drive would have been huge by generating some positive momentum the rest of the game. They could never get themselves back in the game after this play, however, and went on to get crushed by the Texans by a score of 43-13.
Even though they were still 5-2 and in first place after this game, their effort left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. The media questioned if they would even make the playoffs. ESPN’s Ashley Fox wrote, “That’s where it feels like the Ravens might end up: on the outside looking in.”
Luckily for the Ravens, it doesn't look as though Fox's prediction will be correct.
Was it running up the score, or wasn't it?
Whatever your opinion on this matter (I think John Harbaugh was trying to send a message, but I also don’t have a problem with it), this is certainly one of the most memorable plays of the season.
Not only did it cap off a 21-point third quarter for the Ravens, it epitomized the laugher of a game that the Raiders put forth. A team never wants to get dominated, but to have the punter score a touchdown on you?
That’s just embarrassing.
Don’t tell that to Sam Koch, though, as he displayed some pretty nice athleticism with his vision and cuts. Ray Rice was even impressed, as he said, “It was better than mine. He set up his blocks. I’m going to have to take a few lessons out of his book.”
Heck of a spike by Koch during his celebration, too.
Jones’ big punt return touchdown in the first quarter of the Sunday night game against Pittsburgh proved to be the difference. Neither offense could produce much, and Jones’ touchdown gave the Ravens just enough of a cushion to hold onto the lead.
As is often the case in these hard fought games, a big play on special teams is what made the difference. Jones has made big plays all year, and is a big reason why the Ravens are currently 8-2 and two games ahead of the Steelers.
At this point, there's a 99 percent chance that Jacoby Jones will be on Dancing With the Stars after he retires.