Nashville, Tenn. — A not-so-raw rookie and a trustworthy veteran lifted the Baltimore Ravens to the brink of the Super Bowl.
With the help of a brutal defense that knocks opponents silly, of course.
After all, these are the Ravens, who love nothing more than to win grudge matches. And, this one was worthy of the WWE.
Baltimore survived, 13-10, on Saturday against the Tennessee Titans thanks to Matt Stover’s 43-yard field goal with 53 seconds remaining.
The unflappable Flacco was certain the 40-year-old kicker would get his team into next weekend’s AFC title game at either Pittsburgh or San Diego.
“I just watched on the big screen,” said the first rookie quarterback to win two playoff games. “I didn’t watch it live for whatever reason.”
Maybe Flacco’s reason was simply that he never flinches. Nor does his team, which took the wild-card route to the NFL championship in 2000 and just might do it again.
“We’ve been confident in ourselves all year,” the first-round draft pick from Delaware said. “It seems like we’ve been on the road for the longest time. It doesn’t matter to us. We’re going to go out there and battle the crowd, battle the other team, and give it our best.”
Their best has them at 13-5 after Stover, the last member of the Ravens who played when the franchise was in Cleveland, nailed his field goal.
“I would say this would be the No. 1 (kick in my career),” Stover said, then added, “but we’ve got some more kicks, too. So let’s just be humble about that.”
Humble after a rumble.
Two teams with an extreme dislike for each other never stopped pounding it out in the wind and rain.
The difference: Baltimore forced three turnovers and never gave away the ball.
“We just continued to fight and refused to let them in (the end zone),” linebacker Bart Scott said. “We made the plays we had to ... the ball came out. We’ll take it any way we can get it.”