That second-round all-time classic in Denver showed that this was destiny at work, right at the moment that improbable, 70-yard rainbow from Flacco to Jones in the last minute of regulation led to victory in double overtime. It was a post-season variation of the win at San Diego where Ray Rice converted a fourth-and-29 to keep his team alive.
That led to the ultimate revenge – winning the AFC title game at New England in the same place, and the same round, where the Ravens met heartache a year earlier. Now Baltimore had upended one-feel good tale (the Colts) and knocked out two league favorite sons in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Somewhere, Papa John and the Giselle followers recoiled.
And you just knew the Super Bowl against another league darling, San Francisco, would be cast in the same light, especially when the Lewis-deer antler spray story conveniently dropped five days before the game. Again, they were attacking Lewis. Again, the ticked-off Ravens responded.
From the 21-6 start to Jones’ 108-yard kickoff return to open the second half, it was all Baltimore until the power outage in the Superdome, and just about all 49ers after it. When it mattered most, though, the beat-up, aging Ravens defense made the goal-line stand it needed in the end.
None of it was easy, and plenty of it was easy to despise for those not of the purple-and-black persuasion. But through it all, the Baltimore Ravens withstood the arrows thrown at them, and if ever an NFL team earned the hardware with Vince Lombardi’s name on it, this one did.