The 6 Best Highlights of the Baltimore Ravens 2012 Season so Far

Mike FastContributor IDecember 15, 2012

The 6 Best Highlights of the Baltimore Ravens 2012 Season so Far

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    The 9-4 Ravens are set for a huge home game against the 10-3 Broncos on Sunday. Baltimore has sustained a lot of key injuries, mostly on their defense. Still, the Ravens are only a three-point underdog at home.

    Before the game begins, we thought it would be a fun change of pace to take a look back at the best highlights of the Ravens season thus far.

    There have been big plays on offense, defense and special teams. Those big plays have been, in some cases, game winners.

    After giving this some thought, I came up with a list of six clutch performances that boosted the Ravens' chances of getting back to the playoffs for a fifth consecutive year.

    Enjoy.

4th-and-29

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    Player: Ray Rice

    Play: 29-yard reception by Rice on 4th-and-29

    Final score: 16-13 Ravens (OT)

    Comment: If this isn't the play of the year in the NFL, I don't know what is. Rice's quickness, strength, vision and heart made this happen (as well as an outstanding legal block by his teammate, Anquan Boldin).

    If Rice didn't make this play, the Ravens would've been on their first three-game losing streak since Week 6 of the 2008 season.

Torrey Smith: Vital Hours After Personal Tragedy

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    Player: Torrey Smith

    Plays: Second-quarter 25-yard touchdown reception, fourth-quarter 5-yard touchdown reception

    Game: Week 3 versus New England

    Final score: 31-30 Ravens

    Comment: Hours after his younger brother Tevin died, Smith didn't only play and play well, but he was the main reason the Ravens beating the Patriots (probably the best team in the league right now).

    Smith also did very well at New England in last season's AFC Championship Game, catching three passes for 82 yards and one touchdown.

Tucker Tucks It Inside the Upright

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    Player: Justin Tucker

    Play: Game-winning 27-yard field goal (as time expired)

    Game: Week 3 versus New England

    Final score: 31-30 Ravens

    Comment: The last two games between these two teams have come down to two field goals of 32 yards or less.

    Appropriately, in Week 3, like the Ravens did in the AFC title game, the Patriots got right to the end of the game to have what they thought was sure victory ripped away from them.

    Tucker showed with this one kick he was the right kicker for the Ravens.

Jones' Return Key vs. Rival Steelers

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    Player: Jacoby Jones

    Play: 63-yard punt return for a touchdown

    Game: Week 11 at Pittsburgh

    Final score: 13-10 Ravens

    Comment: The only touchdown Baltimore scored in Week 11 would not only prove to be crucial in that game, but in the race for the AFC North title as well.

    This play was Jones' second return for a touchdown in as many weeks and his third of the year.

    As a matter of fact, Jones still leads the NFL with returns for touchdowns (3). He's one of three players who has returned at least one punt and one kickoff for a touchdown (Trindon Holliday, Denver; Marcus Thigpen, Miami) this year.

Former Texan Burns Cowboys on His Way to the Record Books

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    Player: Jacoby Jones

    Play: 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown

    Game: Week 6 versus Dallas

    Final score: 31-29 Ravens

    Comment: Jones' first return for a touchdown this season was a record. He tied Randall Cobb (2011) and Ellis Hobbs (2007) for the longest kick-return touchdown of all time in Week 6 of this year. It was also tied for the longest return ever of any kickoff, punt, interception or fumble.

    Jones lost a key fumble as a member of the Texans in the 2011 divisional playoff game in Baltimore. But on this day, he was very happy to be returning kicks on the same field where his 2011 season ended nine months prior.

Reed Starts New Season with Old Trick

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    Player: Ed Reed

    Play: 34-yard interception return for a touchdown

    Game: Week 1 versus Cincinnati

    Final score: 44-13 Ravens

    Comment: Reed is probably the greatest safety to ever play football. He's also the best defensive return man in NFL history.

    Currently, Reed leads active players with 61 interceptions. He has the first and second longest interception returns ever. As for this season, Reed is tied for eighth with four interceptions (Tim Jennings leads the league with eight).

    On this play, Reed showed again he's still got it. Also on this play, Reed became the all-time leader in interception-return yardage (1,541). 

    Not bad for a 34-year-old playing with multiple injuries who some think isn't worth the money he's making.