After going just 8-8 in defending their Super Bowl XLVII title, the Ravens are back in the playoffs with John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco. However, they didn’t make it easy on themselves, and they needed help to get back into the postseason.
The Ravens defeated the Cleveland Browns 20-10 in their regular season finale at M&T Bank Stadium on Dec. 28. Baltimore also got the help it needed from the Kansas City Chiefs, who defeated the San Diego Chargers 19-7 in Kansas City to give the Ravens the final playoff spot in the AFC as the second wild card team. Tied at 3 at halftime, former Towson University and Northwest High School star running back Terrence West scored on a two-yard run with 3:29 left in the third quarter to give Cleveland a 10-3 lead that help up until the fourth. In the final quarter, Justin Tucker kicked a 28-yard field goal to pull the Ravens within four before the offense finally came to life. After the defense forced a three-and-out and a punt, Flacco hit Torrey Smith for 53 yards, and then again for a 16-yard touchdown to put the Ravens on top 13-10 midway through the fourth. After forcing another three-and-out, running back Justin Forsett ripped off a 27-yard run on the first play of the ensuing Ravens drive. Flacco then found Steve Smith, Sr. on a 24-yard pass down to the Browns’ 3. Three plays later, Flacco found Kamarr Aiken for a two-yard touchdown pass to cap a six-play, 57-yard drive that took 3:16 off the clock give Baltimore a 20-10 lead. Cornerback Lardarius Webb picked off Browns rookie Connor Shaw to end Cleveland’s final chance, and on Baltimore’s final drive, Forsett ran for a pair of first downs to wrap up win number 10 on the season. The Ravens (10-6) became the third team from the AFC North to make the playoffs.
Baltimore will play division champion Pittsburgh (11-5) for a third time this season on Wild Card weekend. Kickoff will be at 8:15 Saturday night on NBC from Heinz Field. The Ravens and Steelers split their matchups in the regular season, with both teams winning at home in prime time.