The Mile High Miracle is a game that will live in the minds of Ravens fans forever.
It's also a moment that nearly didn’t happen.
The Ravens were in a back-and-forth affair in the 2013 divisional playoff round against the Broncos in a game that featured five ties, and one famed touchdown in the final minutes.
The teams traded scores in the second half until the Ravens found themselves at their own 30-yard line down seven with a ticking clock on the game, the season and Ray Lewis’ career.
Then quarterback Joe Flacco stepped up in the pocket and fired a deep pass down the right sideline to Jacoby Jones, who was covered by safety Rahim Moore over-the-top.
Moore’s job was to not let anyone behind him, but he misplayed the coverage and wasn’t able to knock the ball away as it fell into Jones’ arms. As Jones sprinted into the end zone, he blew a kiss with his left hand as the Ravens tied the game with 31 seconds to play. The play, and the game, were aptly named the Mile High Miracle.
The game went to overtime, and later double overtime, as the Ravens found big plays from Dennis Pitta and Haloti Ngata to extend the game further in Denver.
And as the first overtime period wound down, Corey Graham intercepted Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning for the second time of the day.
The Ravens, who held Manning to 290 yards passing and three touchdowns in five quarters, picked him off twice.
Flacco, who had the playoffs of his life, took over inside Broncos territory. A delayed handoff to Ray Rice, aided by a monster contribution from right guard Marshal Yanda, the Ravens found themselves in field goal territory as the second overtime period began.
Then Justin Tucker, as he’s done many times since, booted a 47-yard field goal for the win as the Ravens earned a 38-35 victory on the road.
But the win almost never happened — on a number of levels.
The Ravens failed to convert on a 4th down with 3:12 to play down seven points, where the Broncos could have run out the clock with their offense that averaged 30.1 points-per-game that season.
The most glaring example of where the game could’ve turned, though, was Flacco’s heave to Jones with under 40 seconds to play, where properly played coverage would’ve certainly ended the Ravens’ season and erased one of the most famous plays in Ravens' history.
With a few more examples, including Tucker’s kick and Yanda’s run blocking, the Ravens nearly weren’t able to avenge their loss in New England from a year prior.
The loss would’ve had lasting effects on the franchise as well.
Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed would have never won a Super Bowl with the Ravens, as the Ravens would still be looking for their first Super Bowl title during the John Harbaugh era. Lewis' last season wouldn't have ended in a Super Bowl victory, either.
The game would’ve ended Flacco’s playoff run after just two games, which certainly would’ve had an impact on his contract negotiations after the season considering Flacco went on to win Super Bowl MVP. His deal was worth $120.6 million and $52 million guaranteed.
It wasn’t apparent at the time, but the following years of the organization were shaped in the final minute of regulation in a game affectionately known as the Mile High Miracle.
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