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Reflecting on the 7 Defining Moments of the Baltimore Ravens' 2013 Season

Shehan PeirisCorrespondent IIIDecember 31, 2013

Reflecting on the 7 Defining Moments of the Baltimore Ravens' 2013 Season

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    The Baltimore Ravens were monumentally disappointing in 2013, failing to make the playoffs in defense of their Super Bowl crown. But before we turn the page to next season, we first have to reflect on the events of 2013. Here are seven moments that defined the Ravens’ season.

    Each moment is a “defining” one in its own way. Some are emblematic of the season as a whole while some are incredibly memorable (like Justin Tucker's 61-yard field goal). Some of these events are good, and some are bad. Whatever the reason, these are the most significant moments of the 2013 season.

Ray Rice's Injury

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    Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    Ray Rice had the most disappointing season of his career. His numbers haven’t been so bad since his rookie year, and that was partially due to limited usage in his debut season.

    He couldn’t run the ball and he didn’t look as explosive, shifty or elusive as he has in previous years. Part of the problem was the abysmal run blocking in front of him, but injuries were also a factor.

    Rice suffered a hip flexor strain in Week 2, but missed only one game as a result. Even though he didn’t miss more time, he was still dealing with the nagging injury throughout the year.

    We’ll never truly know how problematic the injury was for Rice, but it was clearly a defining moment for the Ravens' season as it played a role in an extremely disappointing season on the ground.

Daryl Smith's Pick-Six

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    With Ray Lewis in attendance, Daryl Smith showed his predecessor that the Ravens were faring quite well at inside linebacker when he registered a pick-six against Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans.

    The play itself was quite the highlight and one of Smith’s best plays of the year, and that’s why it was a defining moment for Baltimore.

    It’s an example of just how tremendous Daryl Smith was. He was a fairly unknown commodity entering the year (playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars will do that for you), but he quickly showed his versatility and intelligence as he became a leader on defense.

    Smith excelled in coverage, and it showed on this play as he read Schaub’s eyes and jumped the route to take it to the house.

Failed 4th-Down Attempt Against Green Bay

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    Running the ball and converting red-zone trips into touchdowns were two of the offense’s greatest shortcomings. Both were highlighted against the Green Bay Packers in Week 6.

    With a 1st-and-Goal on the 4-yard line, the Ravens lined up in a Jumbo formation and tried to punch it into the end zone on four straight plays. Power running has been a Baltimore strength in the past, but they didn’t get close to crossing the plane on this sequence.

    Both Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce had a crack at it, but porous run blocking prevented any kind of success.

    It wasn’t a particularly memorable sequence, but it was the difference in what ended up being a two-point loss. This moment was a microcosm of the Ravens' season: Failing to run and failing to score touchdowns.

Emmanuel Sanders' 44-Yard Kickoff Return in Week 7

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    Special teams were a strength of the Ravens to end the year, but that wasn’t always the case. The turning point was the Week 7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    After Joe Flacco led the Ravens down the field to tie the game, the return coverage on the ensuing kickoff was abysmal. Emmanuel Sanders took the ball 44 yards to set up Ben Roethlisberger with excellent field position to orchestrate a game-winning drive.

    Following the game, head coach John Harbaugh was extremely critical of the special teams performance and intimated that roster moves could be coming.

    Those moves came during the bye week, when veterans Michael Huff and Marcus Spears were released to make room for special teams contributors.

    Since that point, every aspect of special teams has been phenomenal, and the third phase of the game has been Baltimore’s biggest strength. Thank that Sanders kick return for the turnaround.

A.J. Green's Hail Mary TD

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    How did this even happen? The Cincinnati Bengals were down seven points and needed to go 51 yards in one play to send the game into overtime.

    Somehow, that’s exactly what happened. James Ihedigbo inexplicably batted the ball up in the air, where it landed in A.J. Green’s lap.

    This was one of the many examples of Baltimore beating itself and shooting itself in the foot. Costly mistakes and mental lapses were a problem all season long, and no play shows that more than Andy Dalton’s Hail Mary completion.

Joe Flacco's Injury

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    You remember this moment, don’t you? It was the moment when every Ravens fan held his/her breath.

    Joe Flacco is one of the most durable quarterbacks in the NFL. He’s never missed a start, but that streak looked like it was in jeopardy late in the game against the Detroit Lions.

    He took a helmet to the side of his knee, and limped off the field. Thankfully, he didn’t miss a snapwhich shows just how tough Flacco isbut the injury clearly had an effect on his play.

    Flacco was adamant that his knee had nothing to do with his poor play in the last two games of the year, but that’s hard to believe.

    At the very least, he wasn’t as mobile—both in the pocket and scrambling—as he had been all year, and his footwork was a little worse than usual.

    It wasn’t so debilitating that it was a major factor in the last two losses of the year (the Ravens didn’t deserve to win either game), but it played a role.

    In addition, it showed why Flacco is so valuable. Durability at the quarterback position is extremely valuable—as the Green Bay Packers found out this season—and Flacco provides it in spades.

Legatron

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    What does it say about Baltimore’s season that the most memorable moment was a field goal? Firstly, it suggests that the year was somewhat disappointing, but it also indicates that the kick was special.

    Justin Tucker carried the team all season, and was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player by the local media covering the Ravens. He proved just how valuable he was against the Detroit Lions.

    The offense’s ugly red-zone issues were abundantly clear in Week 15, and Tucker alone was the reason they were able to put points on the board. Baltimore got into the red zone on three occasions, but failed to get into the end zone and relied on Tucker to bail them out.

    He was, in a word, breathtaking.

    “Legatron” made six field goals (24, 29, 32, 49, 53 and 61 yards) but his last kick was the most spectacular one.

    A failed two-point conversion by Detroit left them only up one, but the Ravens couldn’t get much going on offense. Eventually, they had to settle for a 61-yard field goal, but Tucker strutted out there full of confidence.

    According to CSNBaltimore.com, head coach John Harbaugh was deciding whether or not to kick the field goal or go for it on 4th-and-8 when Tucker came up to him and told him, “I got it.”

    He certainly did, as the kick just went through the uprights and gave the Ravens a critical win. The game-winner (and his post-game press conference) put Tucker on the map, and he’s definitely one of the most popular kickers in the league as a result of his heroics and charisma.

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