Well, here we are again.
Another January and another devastating Ravens playoff loss.
This one hurts.
Maybe not as much as last year’s loss to the Steelers or the loss to the Colts in January 2007, but this still hurts, none the less.
Victory was in hand, for at least a split second, before Sterling Moore made a flukey motion for the ball and knocked it out of the hands of Lee Evans.
Despite that drop, we always had a field goal kick in our back pocket to force the game into overtime. But even that wasn’t in the cards, as Billy Cundiff raced out onto the field after being confused, distracted, whatever, and shanked it.
Not only did Ravens fans have to suffer through another playoff loss, they ran the gamut of emotions -- from victory, to the relief that we can still tie the game, to losing the game. All within twenty seconds.
And that’s why being a Ravens fan is so hard. They play with your soul like Chris Farley played with that biscuit in Tommy Boy. I had prepared myself for the realistic outcome of a loss to avoid the devastating feeling that always accompanies a playoff loss. After all, going to New England and beating Tom Brady and Bill Belichick is a daunting task.
But as the game progressed and the possibility of winning became greater as each minute ticked off the clock, and Joe Flacco drove the offense down the field in the last minute of the game, I knew that any preparation I’d made to deal with a loss was out of the window.
So what’s left now is the thought of what could have been and the image of what actually happened. A crushing contrast.
And that, in a nutshell, is what being a Baltimore sports fan is all about. What exists in our minds compared to a sobering reality. What splendid agony.
Outside of the “it happened too fast” Super Bowl that the Ravens won in 2000, Baltimore sports fans have known mostly nothing but misery over the last 30 years.
From the Colts leaving town for Indianapolis – from the Orioles losing 21 straight games to start the 1988 season – from Jeffrey F*cking Maier – from the O’s racking up 14 losing seasons in a row after 1997 – from tragic Maryland losses to Duke basketball – and finally from the stinging playoff defeats that have mounted for the Ravens since 2001.
Compare that to the fortune that Boston has experienced in the last ten years. Each of their four sports teams has won at least one championship in that time. The Red Sox and Patriots have five titles between them, and the Patriots will be going for another in two weeks.
That is where the torture exists for Ravens fans in that loss. We wanted that feeling so bad. With the Orioles continuing to wallow in the annals of the American League, we have no choice but to put all our eggs into the Ravens basket. But no. Boston fans are celebrating another championship game appearance a mere seven months after the Bruins won the Stanley Cup.
I know Baltimore has a long way to go to equal the epic misery of Cleveland sports fans. But we’re getting close. And I know that doesn’t offer fans any consolation, but at least we can embrace our tragic sports heritage instead of dreading it.
What the hell else are we gonna do?