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The top games of 2011

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The top games of 2011

NFL.coms Elliott Harrison has finished his rundown of the top 20 games of the 2011 season, and as expected, the Ravens-Patriots game for the AFC championship ended up high on the list.

The AFC Championship game ranked No. 4, according to Harrison. That trailed only the Giants win over San Francisco in the NFC title game (No. 3), the Giants win over Dallas in Week 14, and the 49ers remarkable playoff win over the Saints, which was the top game of the season, according to Harrison.

Harrison of course revisits the two most memorable plays in that AFC title game the potential game-winning touchdown catch that Lee Evans failed to hang on to, and the missed field-goal try by Billy Cundiff but Harrison focuses on two other plays that had just as much effect on the outcome of the game, yet were barely mentioned in postgame stories and highlights.

Both involved the oft-maligned" Joe Flacco.

The first was a fake to Ray Rice, followed by a rollout by Flacco.

It was set up perfectly, Harrison writes. Pretty much everyone on the Patriots defense bit on the run fake and Torrey Smith blew past Devin McCourty

Flacco had Smith wide open 40 yards downfield, but instead of setting his feet off the rollout and making an accurate throw, he decided to heave the ball on the run. Not good. The pass was woefully underthrown. Smith, who was so open he couldve caught the ball, pulled a sharpie out of his sock to sign it and moonwalked into the end zone, instead had to come back to the ball and make a sliding catch at the 30. The play went for 42 yards, but in reality, should have been a touchdown.

Baltimore would settle for a Cundiff field goal. So, it was Ravens 3, Patriots 3 when it easily couldve been 7-3. Theres four points gone for a Baltimore team that would ultimately lose 23-20.

Then in the second quarter, Flacco had Smith again WIDE open down the right side, Harrison writes. Seeing his receiver running free, all Flacco had to do was put some air under the ball. Give your receiver some room to adjust to the ball. Flacco didnt, missing Smith altogether. Baltimore would punt.

Harrison, though, doesnt throw the book at Flacco entirely, saying Dont blame Flacco. Dont blame Cundiff, either. The outcome was on both teams, and many players, despite what everyone says.

Torrey Smith, interviewed about the game in a video that can be seen on the page, says of Cundiffs last-second kick, I feel like if we had made a few more plays earlier, it would have never got down to that.

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Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

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USA Today Sports

Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

On Wednesday, February 14, a horrific school shooting claimed the lives of 17 innocent people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. 

The tragic event impacted people far and wide, and hit especially close to home for Ravens running back Alex Collins.

The former Arkansas star was born in Plantation, Fla., a suburb of Fort Lauderdale and went to high school just 15 miles south of Douglas High School. 

In the offseason, Collins took Irish dancing lessons to improve his footwork, and following the act of terror, the Ravens' tailback learned that one of his dance partners had been killed in the mass shooting.

17-year-old Cara Loughran attended The Drake school of Irish Dance with Collins in addition to two other Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and was fatally shot by the gunman on Wednesday afternoon. 

Collins took to his Twitter account to issue this heartfelt message.

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“The school shooting yesterday hit home,” Collins wrote.

“We received confirmation a few hours ago we lost one of the girls, Cara Loughran. Two other girls saw and experienced unspeakable tragedy. My heart goes out to these girls, all their families and their teacher Chrissy.”

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Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

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USA Today Sports

Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears will launch the NFL's 99th season by playing in the annual Hall of Fame game on Aug. 2.

The Ravens' first appearance in the Hall of Fame game, which launches the league's 2018 Enshrinement Week. Former Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis is among the inductees, along with former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Lewis, who played 17 seasons with the Ravens, and Urlacher, who played all of his 13 seasons with Chicago, both were elected on the first ballot.

Lewis joins Jonathan Ogden as the only Ravens in the Hall of Fame. Both were selected by Baltimore in the first round of the 1996 draft.

The other members of the Class of 2018 include Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. All will be inducted on Saturday, Aug. 4.

This will be the record-tying fifth time that the Bears will play in the Hall of Fame game. They won the previous four, most recently 27-24 over Miami in 2005.

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