Ravens show mettle in comeback win over Lions

Overcoming adversity seems to be a way of life for the Baltimore

Ravens, who flourish in situations that usually provoke panic and

doubt.

The Ravens fueled their late-season playoff run Monday night by

using a beat-the-clock drive and a remarkable kick to pull out an

exhilarating 18-16 victory in Detroit.

Down by a point, working with only one timeout and facing a

third-and-15 at the Baltimore 28, Joe Flacco connected with Jacoby

Jones for a 27-yard completion. That set up Justin Tucker for his

sixth field goal, a club-record boot of 61 yards that provided the

Ravens (8-6) with their fourth straight victory.

Just a month ago, the defending Super Bowl champions were 4-6.

Now they’re in command of the final AFC wild card and still in the

running for another division title.

”Man, I tell you what, we are a team that keeps believing,”

linebacker Daryl Smith said. ”We never quit. I don’t really have

any words for it.”

Anyone who thought the Ravens were doomed to defeat after the

Lions took the lead with 2:21 left must not have been familiar with

Baltimore’s exploits over the past two years.

On their way to an NFL championship last season, the Ravens

overcame a three-game skid to win the AFC North. In the playoffs,

Baltimore used a late Flacco-to-Jones touchdown to rally past

top-seeded Denver, then beat New England on the road before

surviving a power outage and a late surge by San Francisco to

capture the Super Bowl.

This season, with a vastly revised roster, the Ravens are

displaying the same brand of determination. They’ve been involved

in nine games decided by three points or fewer, including each of

the last three – all of which they won to remain on course to reach

the postseason for a sixth straight time.

Baltimore’s experience in close games, along with the resiliency

the team has shown under coach John Harbaugh, produced a feeling of

confidence Monday night when the offense huddled up before the

final, pivotal drive.

”We’ve been there so many times over the past few years,” wide

receiver Torrey Smith said. ”If you’re in the huddle, everyone’s

just calm, relaxed, like, `All right, let’s go do it.’ No one’s

panicking. We’ve been there before and we know how to handle

it.”

The victory was sealed with an interception by rookie safety

Matt Elam, who created a stir days earlier when he said Lions wide

receiver Calvin Johnson was ”pretty old.”

”He trusted his teammates and he had faith,” Harbaugh said.

”The thing I love about our football team is that we are a team of

faith. We believe. We trust. Because of that, we’ll fight. We will

run the race right down to the end; that’s something that our

football team does. I’m very proud of them for that.”

The Ravens host New England on Sunday before closing the season

at Cincinnati. Baltimore will claim the AFC North title by winning

both games.

”We’re playing our best football right now,” Harbaugh said.

”We’re going to have to continue to improve with what we have in

front of us down the stretch.”

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org