At First Glance: AFC Championship writers give their first impressions of the Ravens’ 23-20 loss.

Posted by on Sunday, January 22nd, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Categories: 2011 Season Gameday, AFC Title vs Patriots, At First Glance, Garrett Downing, Ryan Mink, Sarah Ellison

John Eisenberg: The Ravens are going to have a hard time watching the Super Bowl in two weeks. They had a great chance to knock off the New England Patriots, and certainly a great chance to take the game into overtime. There’s nothing you can say about Billy Cundiff’s missed 32-yard field goal except that he should have made it. There’s no excuse for missing it. There’s a lot you can say about the defensive holding penalty that went uncalled one play before that and would have given the Ravens a first down. Bad break there. Brutal. The Ravens played well enough to win. Joe Flacco was brilliant. The people who continually criticize him should be quiet. He put the winning touchdown in Lee Evans’ hands in the final seconds. A Patriot defender knocked it out. Great play. The Ravens followed their intended blueprint all day. They moved the ball, forced Tom Brady to settle for field goals, had the Pats on the ropes. The loss will be tough to forget.

Ryan Mink: The Ravens gave the Patriots a heck of a game. It was a classic AFC championship. But that was an absolute brutal, brutal way to lose. You cannot get any closer than that. A touchdown pass gets stripped out of Lee Evans’ hands, then Billy Cundiff misses a 32-yarder to send the game into overtime. Once again in the playoffs, the Ravens fell short of the Super Bowl. This one will sting for a long time.

Garrett Downing: The Ravens came close but it wasn’t enough to take down the Patriots on the road and return to the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history. Quarterback Joe Flacco responded to a mountain of criticism this week by playing one of his best games of the season, but a missed field goal by Billy Cundiff at the end of the game concluded the Ravens season with a devastating loss. This one will sting for a long, long time.

Sarah Ellison: Joe Flacco can’t do this by himself. He hit receiver Lee Evans square in the numbers in the end zone, but he allowed a defender to strip it lose. Then they brought out kicker Billy Cundiff to kick a 32-yard field goal, but he shanks it wide left. Nobody will feel worse than those two men. Prior to the mistakes, the AFC’s top two seeds traded blows for 60 minutes, but the Ravens were just a touchdown catch short of a second Super Bowl trip in franchise history. The truth is that Baltimore played inspired football, but there are no moral victories in the AFC championship. It’s heart-breaking for a first-class organization.

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