1. Crazy finish- There is no way to properly sum up the last two minutes of today’s game at M&T Bank Stadium that was played in a blizzard. I think everyone in Baltimore and Minnesota still can’t comprehend what happened. The Vikings and Ravens scored a combined 42 points in the final two minutes of the game. This is easily one of the craziest finishes in NFL history considering how uneventful the first 45 minutes of the game was. The fourth quarter’s six lead changes is an NFL record. Toby Gerhart, a backup running back, set the stage when he scored a 41 yard rushing touchdown to give the Vikings a 19-15 lead. Jacoby Jones followed that up by returning the ensuing kick off for a touchdown to give the lead back to the Ravens. Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson topped Jones’ play by turning a screen pass into a 79 yard touchdown, giving the Vikings a four point lead with 46 seconds left. That set the stage for Joe Flacco and company to deliver their most important drive of the season, which ended with a Marlon Brown touchdown catch in the back of the end zone with four seconds left. If you turned the game off before the fourth quarter, you missed out on an instant classic
2. Flacco delivers- You can say whatever you want about the play of Joe Flacco today, but when the team needed him most, he delivered. He led what could have been two separate game winning drives in the fourth quarter in this horrendous weather. Flacco threw three costly interceptions in the game, but it never fazed him. His fourth quarter performance is a perfect example of the type of player Joe Flacco is. He has a short memory and plays big in the biggest of moments, regardless of how he played earlier in the game. He was calm and collective in the pocket and made the right throws in the fourth quarter. The Ravens don’t win this game if Joe Flacco isn’t under center in the fourth quarter. Flacco continues to play well down the stretch, which is a good sign as the team prepares to play three division leaders in their final three games.
3. Defense falters- I wrote earlier in the week about the poor play of the defense in the fourth quarter this season, and today was no exception. With a 7-6 lead going into the fourth quarter, the defense gave up 20 points in the last 15 minutes of the game. They are lucky that the offense was able to bail them out this time, because it could’ve been ugly if this Ravens team was unable to beat a 3-8-1 Minnesota team in Baltimore. This storyline won’t be talked about as much when looking back at this game because of how crazy of an ending it was, as well as the play of quarterback Joe Flacco down the stretch, but it remains to be an issue for this unit. If this problem isn’t fixed soon, then there is little hope for the Ravens making noise in January if they make the playoffs.
4. Pitta returns- It was nice to see number 88 back on the field today, and he made his presence felt. Pitta finished with six receptions for 48 yards, including a clutch fourth quarter touchdown on fourth down. Pitta, who was targeted 11 times, reminded all of us why he is Flacco’s safety blanket. The tight end makes plays, and that is what the Ravens have been missing. If the Ravens are going to continue their improbable run to make the playoffs, Pitta will have to continue to make plays
5. Short-yardage problems- The Ravens were unable to convert a fourth and one late in the game, but it will be forgotten since they won. This is a big problem, however, for the Ravens. Teams have to be able to convert in short-yardage situations. The offensive line, that has actually been playing better lately, has to get enough push up front for them to convert. Vontae Leach was stuffed immediately when the Ravens failed to convert that fourth down play. The Ravens showed their lack of confidence in their short-yardage plays by calling a shotgun, empty set play on fourth and one later in the game when Pitta scored a touchdown.