By Demetrius Dillard
Special to the AFRO
Back in action for the first time in two weeks, the Baltimore Ravens made timely late-game plays to eke out another comeback win, 34-31, over the Minnesota Vikings in overtime at M&T Bank Stadium on Nov. 7.
The Vikings were the 21st-ranked defense in the league, so most oddsmakers and experts presumably had the Ravens winning comfortably. However, Baltimore had a vigorous fight on its hands and was faced with the challenge of having to overcome a two-possession deficit as it has a few times this season.
“The idea is not to give your opponent anything; it’s to take what you can and give away nothing – that’s winning football. We’ve done a lot of giving, but we’ve also done a lot of overcoming. I’d like to cut down on the giving,” Ravens Coach John Harbaugh said.
Near the middle of the third quarter Baltimore trailed 24-10, rolled up its sleeves and began to chip away at the deficit. Leading up to the two-touchdown deficit, the Ravens’ secondary and special teams unit yielded some uncharacteristic scoring plays — one being a 50-yard touchdown reception by Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson, and the other a 98-yard kickoff return by Kene Nwangwu to open the second half.
From that point early in the third, the Ravens evidently made the necessary adjustments, finishing the afternoon with three touchdowns and a field goal while allowing one touchdown at the end of regulation. They are coming off a 41-17 blowout loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 7.
This overtime win against the Vikings was much-needed and may be the beginning of another win streak for the Ravens, presuming things go as planned.
“I just feel our team did a great job… going to three overtimes this season. We didn’t lay down,” Jackson said in the post-game press conference. “We saw the score was tilted early in the game. Our guys just fought. We made a comeback. All phases did a great job today.”
Fullback Patrick Richard caught a one-yard touchdown pitch from quarterback Lamar Jackson and receiver Devin Duvernay scored on a five-yard reception to even the score, 24-24, with 9:19 left in regulation.
Ravens coaching staff reportedly spent a considerable amount of time closely examining their run game during bye week.
Veteran running backs Le’Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman played crucial roles in the win for the Ravens. Bell capped off a 61-yard, seven-play drive with a one-yard touchdown run to tie the game 31-31 and force the extra period. Freeman rushed for 79 yards, made some pivotal plays down the stretch and had a receiving touchdown.
Everything seemed to come together at the end for the Ravens, who have been characterized as the NFL’s “comeback kings this season” by writer Ryan Mink. Baltimore tallied a whopping 500 yards of offense, 253 of which were on the ground, on its way to the big win.
Despite an interception by Jackson to begin overtime, Baltimore’s defense rebounded by forcing a Vikings three-and-out. The Ravens seized their opportunity the next offensive trip downfield, culminating with a game-winning 36-yard field goal by kicker Justin Tucker.
Tucker has now made 53 consecutive field goals in the fourth quarter and overtime. Jackson was 27-for-41 passing for 266 yards and three touchdowns, and added a game-high 120 yards rushing for another career day. He recorded his 10th career 100-yard rushing game, tying Michael Vick’s regular-season record for quarterbacks.
With the victory, the Ravens improve to 6-2 overall and have now won three times this season after trailing by double digits in the second half. Furthermore, Baltimore is back on top of the AFC North standings.
It’s about the midway point of the regular season for the Ravens, and they appear in pretty good shape, even with the numerous injuries on the roster. They have a short turnaround before heading down to Florida for a Week 10 matchup against the Miami Dolphins.
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