Never Say Never Moment of the Week: Another Look  

 

Baltimore Ravens, Minnesota Vikings provide incredible finish

  • By Jim Reineking NFL.com
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This is the backstory to one of the great moments of Week 14, the Baltimore Ravens coming out on top after one of the most frenzied finishes any diehard football fan can remember. The Ravens' wild win over the Minnesota Vikings, as well as the New England Patriots' comeback win over the Cleveland Browns and the Green Bay Packers' much-needed win over the Buffalo Bills are nominees for the GMC Never Say Never Moment of the week. Cast your vote for the GMC Never Say Never Moments of Week 14.

We're lucky to get one good snow game in the NFL each season. On Sunday, there were a handful of games played with snow as a dramatic backdrop. One of those fortunate games occured in Baltimore, where the defending Super Bowl champions were clinging to a narrow edge in the race for the AFC's second wild-card spot. The competitive phase of the visiting team's season had already passed, yet the Vikings came to Baltimore filled with spirit and whipcord. The Vikings' enthusiasm for competition helped push this showdown to its final frantic moments.

Here are the key moments before the moment:

Peterson hurt

The play: Vikings running back Adrian Peterson takes short pass from quarterback Matt Cassel for four yards, but lands awkwardly and fumbles the ball out of bounds in the process.

The aftermath: The Vikings were already down 7-0 when this play took place in the second quarter, and the team appeared as if it would have to rely on backup Toby Gerhart to carry the load on a snowy FieldTurf track at M&T Bank Stadium. Gerhart would prove to be a capable replacement for the 2012 NFL MVP.

Vikings take their first lead

The play: Cassel hit receiver Jerome Simpson for an 8-yard touchdown play.

The aftermath: The subsequent two-point converstion attempt failed. Still, the Vikings were up 12-7 on the Ravens early in the fourth quarter and it appeared an upset might be at hand. For Simpson, the touchdown was his first receiving score in 26 games.

Let the madness begin

The play: Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco hits tight end Dennis Pitta for a 1-yard touchdown play.

The aftermath: A two-point try was successful, and the Ravens claimed a 15-12 lead just before the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter. This was Pitta's first game of the season following recovery from a hip injury. The score -- the first of five touchdowns in the game's final 2:01 -- was the impetus for a manic finish in Baltimore.

Gerhart breaks free

The play: Two plays after Pitta's score, Gerhart ran up the middle and through the Ravens defense for a 41-yard touchdown.

The aftermath: Gerhart's powerful run gave the Vikings a 19-15 lead with 1:27 left to play. Given the continuous snowfall and the minimal time remaining, it appeared as if the Vikings might just pull off the upset and make a number of the Ravens' rivals in the AFC very happy. Instead, it was just one shining moment in an incredible flurry of touchdowns.

Jones goes the distance

The play: Jacoby Jones takes the ensuing kickoff following Gerhart's score to the house to give Baltimore a 22-19 lead.

The aftermath: Jones finally broke free for a return score less than a week after the controversy surrounding Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who appeared to get in the way of Jones on a long return on Thanksgiving night.

Vikings rookie burns Ravens

The play: Rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson hauls in a short pass from Cassel and runs through and past the Ravens' defenders for a 79-yard touchdown.

The aftermath: As if the game wasn't already completely bonkers following Jones' return, Patterson quickly steals the spotlight and gives Minnesota a 26-22 lead. Remember when the Ravens defense was strong and formidable? Yeah, not so much on this third-and-10 play when the team could have used a stop. Instead, the wild roller-coaster ride that was the final two-plus minutes of this game was still in full motion.

The moment

The play: Flacco finds rookie receiver Marlon Brown in the back of the end zone for a game-winning 9-yard touchdown.

The aftermath: Somehow, the Ravens went 80 yards in 45 seconds (in the snow!) for the winning score in a 29-26 triumph. Playing football in the snow is fun.

The six fourth quarter lead changes were the most in a single game in NFL history. There were five lead changes in the final 2:01 alone, the most fourth quarter lead changes in that short of a time span since at least 1963. There were 36 points scored in that time span, the most since 1983 (that's as far back as data for such a statistic exists). In retrospect, it's funny that the Ravens led 7-6 entering the fourth quarter.

Most vital to the Ravens was the victory. After starting the season a dismal 3-5 as the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Ravens have gone 4-1 in their last five games.

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

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