NFL Game Summary - Minnesota at Baltimore
(Sunday, December 8th)
Final Score: Baltimore 29, Minnesota 26
Baltimore, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - Sometimes pundits use the phrase, "whichever team finishes with the ball will win the game."
In Baltimore on Sunday, that phrase held true during a bizarre fourth quarter that saw a total of 42 points scored.
Marlon Brown caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco with four seconds left on the clock, capping a back-and-forth final two minutes and giving the Baltimore Ravens a dramatic 29-26 win over the Minnesota Vikings.
Baltimore's third straight win helped them keep pace in the wild-card race with Miami, who held off the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. The Ravens hold the tie-breaker over the Dolphins because of a 26-23 win at Miami in Week 5.
The Ravens weathered a wintry storm that hit the northeast as well as everything Minnesota threw at them in the final quarter as John Harbaugh's club showed why they are the defending champions.
"Will we ever see a game like that again?" Harbaugh asked. "You got to credit both teams, credit to the Vikings. Leslie Frazier is doing a tremendous job coaching that football team."
Dennis Pitta caught a 1-yard touchdown pass with 2:07 to play in the game and Flacco hit Torrey Smith for a 2-point conversion as the Ravens (7-6) took a 15-12 advantage.
Minnesota wasted no time, scoring in just two plays. Matt Cassel hit Jerome Simpson for 27 yards on first down to the Baltimore 41, and Toby Gerhart broke numerous tackles as he rumbled up the middle on the following play to put Minnesota back up in front, 19-15, with 1:27 on the clock.
Blair Walsh pooched the ensuing kickoff to Jacoby Jones, who caught the short kick and raced 77 yards down the sideline to return serve with 1:16 to play.
Following two incompletions from Cassel, Cordarrelle Patterson caught a wide- receiver screen, followed a convoy of blockers and his speed did the rest as he scampered into the end zone for a 79-yard score.
The final Baltimore TD was aided by an 18-yard pass interference penalty on Chad Greenway. Pitta caught an 18-yard pass two plays later and Brown ended it with a beautiful grab in the back of the end zone on the following play.
"The conditions were tough," said Frazier. "The players, they competed, they played hard. Both teams battled right down to the very end."
Flacco threw for 245 yards on 28-of-50 passing with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Brown finished with seven receptions for 92 yards and the triumphant touchdown.
Cassel, starting in place of an injured Christian Ponder, threw for 265 yards on 17-of-38 passing with two touchdowns for Minnesota (3-9-1). Gerhart rushed for 89 yards on 15 carries in place of Adrian Peterson, who left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury and did not return.
Midway through the first quarter, Gerhart carried up the middle and lost a fumble to Matt Elam at the Minnesota 25. The fumble was reviewed and replay appeared to show Gerhart's right knee hitting the turf before the ball came loose but the call was still upheld.
Flacco darted up the middle on the ensuing play for a 22-yard gain to the Minnesota 3-yard line. Three plays later, Flacco rolled to his right and hit Ed Dickson in the corner of the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown.
Peterson caught a pass on the far sideline in the second quarter and lost the ball out of bounds as he stretched for the first down.
His right leg got trapped under Arthur Brown and the reigning MVP was in visible pain as he was helped off the field. After walking the sideline and receiving attention from the medical staff, he was soon carted into the locker room for x-rays.
The Vikings started a short drive midway through the second quarter, but were forced to settle for a 39-yard field goal from Walsh after a crucial personal foul penalty.
Walsh added a 40-yard field goal in the third quarter to trim the deficit to 7-6.
Andrew Sendejo intercepted Flacco late in the third to set up Minnesota's first touchdown of the game.
The short march started at the Baltimore 33 and Cassel hit John Carlson on 2nd-and-4 for seven yards to the 20. Courtney Upshaw was flagged for a roughing the passer and the ball was moved to the 10-yard line.
Two plays into the fourth quarter, Cassel found Simpson in the back of the end zone for the touchdown. Simpson dragged across the back of the end zone, leaped up for the catch and just got both feet down as he tumbled out of bounds.
Cassel's two-point conversion attempt intended for Greg Jennings fell incomplete and the Vikings led 12-7 with early in the final frame.
Patterson finished with five receptions for 141 yards ... Ray Rice had 17 carries for 67 yards and five receptions for 42 yards ... The Vikings committed six penalties for 90 yards ... Baltimore plays at Detroit next Sunday ... Minnesota hosts the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
12/08 18:59:21 ET