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What if Ravens beat the Patriots in the 2012 AFC Championship Game?

What if Ravens beat the Patriots in the 2012 AFC Championship Game?

It’s not a stretch to say the 2012 AFC Championship Game was one of the most painful losses in Baltimore sports history.

The Ravens went to New England off a 20-13 win in the divisional round and were a game away from the Super Bowl for the first time since 2008. 

And one of their biggest rivals stood in the way of the Ravens and their second Super Bowl appearance in history. 

Baltimore and New England went back and forth for the entire game, before a one-yard Tom Brady plunge on 4th and goal gave the Patriots a 23-20 lead early in the fourth quarter. 

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Despite a Joe Flacco interception midway through the fourth quarter, the Ravens held the Patriots out of the end zone and gave the ball back to their offense with under two minutes to play. 

Then, the Ravens marched into Patriots territory and found themselves at the 14-yard line with 27 seconds left. 

On second down, Flacco fired a pass to wide receiver Lee Evans in the right corner of the end zone. Evans had it in his hands — then he dropped it. A Patriots defender came in late to knock the ball out of his hands, a catch that would’ve assuredly lifted the Ravens to the Super Bowl. 

Evans never played a regular season game again. 

"It was an opportunity to go to the Super Bowl," he said after the game. "And I let it go."

Two plays after Evans’ drop, kicker Billy Cundiff trotted onto the field to attempt a game-tying 32-yard field goal. The kick hooked badly to the left, and the Ravens lost 23-20 just a few plays short of the Super Bowl.

Cundiff, who had made the Pro Bowl with the Ravens in 2010 and signed a five-year contract extension in January of 2011, suffered the lowest moment of his professional career 364 days after he put pen to paper. He was released in August.

But if the Ravens had won that game, whether through Evans’ touchdown or another play in overtime, it’s reasonable to assume things wouldn’t have turned out as well long-term for the team. 

The Patriots lost the Super Bowl two weeks later to the Giants, 21-17, as the Ravens regrouped and made additions. 

One of those additions was Justin Tucker, who signed as an undrafted free agent and beat Cundiff out for the job in training camp. Tucker is currently the most accurate kicker in NFL history. 

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The next season, the Ravens finished the regular season 10-6 and though they had to play in the Wild Card round, found themselves in Foxboro once again for the AFC Championship Game. They dominated the Patriots 28-13 and went on to win the Super Bowl two weeks later. 

So while Evans’ drop, and Cundiff’s miss, might’ve been painful in the moment, that game led to a Super Bowl victory a year later, as well as one of the best special teams players the league has ever seen.

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Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti makes $1 million donation to local social justice reform programs

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti makes $1 million donation to local social justice reform programs

The Baltimore Ravens, along with the Steve and Renee Bisciotti Foundation, announced on Monday a $1 million joint-donation will be going to 28 local charities promoting racial equality. 

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti pledged to make this donation a week after George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minnesota. 

The Ravens formed a committee with five players -- Justin Tucker, Morgan Cox, Marlon Humphrey, Matthew Judon and Ronnie Stanley -- and former wide receiver Torrey Smith in order to decide which Baltimore-area organizations would receive funding. 

“When you talk about social justice, there are many different issues -- from education, to criminal justice reform, to health," Smith said through a Ravens release. "There are so many avenues the players could have chosen, so they really spread it out among a lot of different grassroots organizations. This is just the beginning of trying to figure out as many ways to collaborate with the people in the city who are doing great things to help change Baltimore for the better."

For Stanley, his status as a professional athlete in America's biggest sporting league makes him 

“I’m passionate about this, knowing the position I’m in and how blessed I am to be in a position to help people. I’m not going to forget about the people who are dealing with things that aren’t fair. We have an opportunity to help make the world a better place, and I want to take advantage of that," Stanley said in the Ravens statement.

“There are so many places in society that racism has affected. It really starts with people’s mentalities and how they’ve been raised and taught," continued Stanley. "The biggest thing for me is educating people about their own misconceptions and stereotypes, helping them understand the root behind these stereotypes and why the black community is where it is today. It has everything to do with American history.”

For a full list of the 28 organizations receiving money, click here

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Lamar Jackson is only focused on one thing after his MVP season: Winning a Super Bowl

Lamar Jackson is only focused on one thing after his MVP season: Winning a Super Bowl

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson deserved every single one of the votes he earned a year ago when he was unanimously voted the NFL's Most Valuable Player.

Jackson electrified in 2019, leading the NFL in passing touchdowns with 36 while shattering the sport's single-season QB rushing yards record with over 1,200 yards on the ground. He led Baltimore to a 14-2 record and the top seed in the AFC before the Ravens were upset by the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round of the playoffs.

On an individual level, there's not much Jackson can do in 2020 to top his personal success in 2019. Well, it's a good thing the QB is not focused on his individual accolades.

Ravens tight end Mark Andrews -- Jackson's top target from 2019 -- spoke to local media on Monday and said that Jackson's only goal for an encore to his MVP season is leading Baltimore to a Super Bowl.

"His biggest goal is to win a Super Bowl. That's his biggest thing," Andrews said. 

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After Jackson's remarkable 2019 campaign, it would be easy for the success he's had to get in his head. But according to Andrews, it's been nothing like that at all for the rising third-year QB.

"There's no superstardom coming from Lamar. Lamar is Lamar, and that's something that we all love about him," Andrew said. "That's something we can kind of relate to, that his head is not too big and it will never get too big, because he's down to earth."

While the Super Bowl is a lofty goal, it's a realistic one for Jackson and the Ravens. But for now, in August, left tackle Ronnie Stanley thinks Jackson should just focus on getting a little better each day, and the rest will work itself out in the long run.

"Just not try to make these tremendous leaps. Everyone kind of tries to put that pressure on you," Stanley said on advice for Jackson following his MVP season. "Just go in every day just trying to get a little bit better. Just keep that focus that, ‘I’m going to get better at this today.’ And just focus on that; not thinking every day that you have to be the perfect person or perfect player, because I feel like guys can get too ahead of themselves."

Entering the 2020 season, Jackson and the Ravens' disappointing performance in the playoffs is what many remembers from their 2019 season. The 14-2 record and overall regular season success are overshadowed by the early playoff exit.

That loss has stuck with Jackson, too, and it's motivated him this entire offseason.

"He's the best player I've ever been around, and he works hard," Andrews said. "So I think you're going to see an even more polished and even more ready Lamar than you saw last year. That sounds almost unbelievable, but the guy is incredible and he's a winner."

And while the expectations for Baltimore in 2020 are as high as they come, Andrews knows Jackson won't change his demeanor to try and accomplish them.

"Lamar is Lamar, man. He's never going to change who he is," Andrews said.

Stay connected to the Ravens and Orioles with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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