Super Bowl, Hon!
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Last night, they solidly beat the Patriots in Foxborough, 28-13, to win the AFC Championship. This was much-needed after last year's should've-been-a-victory, same team, same place. Baltimore is going wild! Here is Federal Hill last night, after the Ravens won.
This playoffs preceded much like 2000's championship season did. Even though we won our division (in 2000, we were a wild card), no one thought we were going to get very far. You see, in the minds of most people, the Ravens are perpetually the underdog team, never mind that we pretty much always make the playoffs and have become something of a mainstay at the AFC Championship as well.
2000 was the year I got into football, watching the Ravens in the playoffs. I remember we beat Denver (in Denver--sounds familiar!), but according to everyone, there was no way we'd beat Tennessee and Steve McNair in Tennessee. We went on to beat Tennessee. But there was no way that we'd beat the Raiders, with Rich Gannon, in the Black Hole! Ye gods, overweight white guys wear spiked shoulder pads and Darth Vader masks there! *shivers* I remember that game very well because we watched it at the Ravens' stadium downtown, and near the end of the game, Tony Siragusa sat on Rich Gannon. The spiked shoulder pads and Darth Vader masks looked decidedly less scary as they shuffled out of the stadium. Of course, then we went on to win the Super Bowl against the Giants.
This year, we beat the Colts at home, but there was no way we were going to beat Peyton Manning, in Denver. So when we did, there was no way that we were going to beat Tom Brady, in Foxborough. Never mind that we already beat the Patriots once this season and should have in the last AFC game as well (in Foxborough). The commentators at the beginning of the game didn't think that the Ravens' defense would be able to handle Brady's no-huddle offense. Ummm ... didn't we just beat a team with a QB who uses a no-huddle offense?
If last week's game taught us anything, it is that it really ain't over till its over. We only began cautiously celebrating after the two-minute warning and not for real till the final turnover, when it became obvious that the Ravens could run down the clock.
The City Paper did an article a couple of weeks ago about the very phenomenon of dogging the Ravens no matter how good they prove themselves to be. It's always been that way and probably always will be; I don't imagine us ever being mentioned with the likes of the Patriots or the Colts or even the Steelers. Sure enough, the Ravens had no sooner taken their last knee to win the game and the announcers were already gloomily intoning how the 49ers' quarterback Colin Kaepernick will give us trouble, how we've proven ourselves against mostly pocket passers and he's "mobile"; never mind the accomplishment of beating two of the NFL's best QBs in the past two weeks on their home fields, never mind that QBs don't generally like to take the risk of mobility when staring down the likes of Ray Lewis, already that counts for naught and we are the underdogs, there only by the skin of our teeth and not likely to be able to count on that good grace much longer.
We watched the game over my inlaws' house. Even my dad watched it! :^O We brought the Goldens but won't make that mistake again; Lancelot, a.k.a. Phil, has become afraid of loud cheering and spent most of the evening trying to climb into various people's laps. He's small for a Golden, but 68 lbs. is still too heavy for a lap dog. My Ray Lewis jersey is worn beyond recognition, so I wore my McNair jersey. (I had a moment of stupid superstition of the kind oft-practiced during football viewing if it was poor luck to wear the jersey of a dead player, but I adored McNair when he played for the Titans, adored him even more when he played for us, and so scolded myself for silliness and wore it anyway. Ghost!Steve, it seems, did bring us luck. Having been folded in a drawer for years now [I actually lost it for a while], ghost!Steve will definitely be getting some mileage in the weeks to come.) Every time we scored a touchdown, I did Steve's touchdown ... whatever that is.
Luckily, I had lots of occasions to do that!
If I know Bal'more from 2000, the next few weeks will be wild. Strings of purple lights, purple spotlights, and Ravens car flags have already made their appearance. We saw our first Ravens tent in Hanover on Saturday; in 2000, a big deal was made because just about every gas station had a Ravens tent selling unauthorized merchandise on the corner. This is of course an extra huge occasion since Ray Lewis has the chance to make his last game a Super Bowl victory. What could be a better retirement gift for someone who has done so much for this city? Go Ravens!
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