Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
One of the more dramatic, if not poorly played, games this season ended Denver's title run in a very similar fashion to how they used Tim Tebow to upset the Steelers last year.
I was out with a buddy last night, intending to watch the Packers-49ers game. Because the Ravens-Broncos game lasted something like five hours, we watched that through overtime at one place before heading to another.
Somewhere in that conversation (and a few of Homer's favorite Duffs), he asked me how I define "irony," because apparently his wife is one of those types who always uses "ironic" to describe anything that isn't ordinary.
By the end of the night, I had an answer for him.
Irony is the Denver Broncos riding Peyton Manning and his half-strength arm to a 13-3 record, but losing their only playoff game to a quarterback who couldn't possibly be mistaken for Peyton Manning or an MVP candidate because his arm was strong enough to make deep, if inaccurate, throws.
I'm still dumbfounded with how dumb of an ending we saw in Denver, but the fact is the right team won the game. Denver failed several times to clinch a game they absolutely should have won, and by the end of it, Baltimore simply did what Denver failed to do.
Is that giving credit to the Ravens? Sure, I suppose. It's tough to be impressed with 18-for-34 passing, but three of those completions went for deep touchdowns. A total of 161 of his 331 yards came from those three completions.
Perhaps Flacco didn't put up a Manning-like game, but the Ravens beat the Broncos on plays, and that was pretty much the only way they were going to win this game.
Perhaps it's even more ironic that Joe Flacco's Tebownian like performance undid the Broncos nearly one year to the day Tim Tebow's thin-air-rainbows connected with DeMaryius Thomas over a secondary that played too aggressively. or, exactly what Rahim Moore did.
Tim Tebow in last year's wild card win over Pittsburgh: 10-for-21, 316 yards, two touchdowns. Flacco in last night's divisional round win: 18-for-34, 331 yards, three touchdowns.
Flacco said it himself after the game, "At that point, you have to start taking shots. You have to get a little lucky."
While it isn't ironic, Flacco leaned on the Heave 'n Pray offense he has over the last few years, drawing pass interference penalties and eventually, exploiting the obvious mismatch advantage they had in WR Torrey Smith on Broncos CB Champ Bailey.
Maybe it is ironic to label that play Flacco's "Heave 'n Pray," considering how open Jacoby Jones was, and how safety Rahim Moore just doomed himself to infamy for forgetting the cardinal effing rule of deep safety play; don't let anyone behind you.
It sure as hell is ironic, though, Baltimore defeats Denver with a strong-armed quarterback who got a pass over the top of a secondary playing very stupidly, when the Broncos won a playoff game last season with a weak-armed quarterback who caught a secondary - playing very stupidly - off guard with deep, looping throws.
SB Nation's NFL Editor emailed all of us last night with links to recaps and such, saying this was one of the best games he's ever seen. I simply laughed. I can't possibly link what I saw with the idea of a well-played football game, but perhaps many people will.
Absolutely one of the most dramatic (if not stupid) games I've ever seen, but it wasn't quality football. It was extremely cold weather football. When do the best games of all time need two overtimes to be decided? In a sudden death format, that's usually more indicative of blown opportunities more than anything else.
But Baltimore made the plays, Denver did not. So the last bit of irony is perfectly clear; Peyton Manning choked in the playoffs.
Wait, that's not at all ironic. Denver signed up for five years of this, though.