Jan 12 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos head coach John Fox reacts after a turnover in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens of the AFC divisional round playoff game at Sports Authority Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
The overtime thriller in Mile High Stadium was one for the ages…
The Baltimore Ravens edged Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos 38-35 in a high-scoring affair that included a profusion of big plays by both teams. This was probably one of the best games that I’ve seen all year. From Trendon Holiday’s punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter, blow-after-blow was exchanged, with the two teams tying a total of five times until Baltimore’s Justin Tucker delivered the knockout blow in the form of a 47-yard field goal 51 seconds into second overtime.
This game was close all the way to the wire. I have to be honest and say that I didn’t expect Ray Lewis’s team to march into The Centennial State and play like they did. They played with a lot of heart and willed their way to a victory. I thought Denver would win this game, but after Joe Flacco beautiful 70-yard bomb to Jacoby Jones with under a minute left in the forth quarter, a play ESPN coined “The Flacco Fling”, I told myself that this game could go either way.
All close games are eventually decided by one or two plays, plays that John Fox didn’t give the opportunity for his team to make. Fox has always been a conservative, run-first coach, dating back to his days with the Carolina Panthers. While he has given Peyton more control over the offense than the quarterbacks he’s had in the past, many people familiar with his strategy knows he’ll never completely abandon the run. But, after what happened in Mile High on Saturday against the Ravens, he may want to consider changing his philosophy.
At one point in the game, when Denver had a touchdown lead with a little over a minute left on the clock, another first down could’ve gotten Peyton to his first AFC Championship with another team. John Fox, being the conservative man that he is, ran the ball three times and punted. Joe Flacco had been attacking the defense deep all game and with success (even averaging twenty yards a completion at one time). Giving him the ball back with over a minute left was not wise at all. He very much underestimated Joe Flacco by not running out the clock. In my opinion, it was that series, not Peyton’s interception that lost the Broncos the game.
Mike Smith, a great coach who gets his own way sometimes, should watch this game with his notepad and take notes on what NOT to do at the end of a close game. This game could be a “blessing in disguise” for Atlanta. The Seahawks are a talented team, and they’ve made some magic of their own this season (Touchception). Don’t give them the opportunity to make any in the Georgia Dome. If blood is drawn, be on the attack until the opponent is finished or until the game clock reads 0:00…