EARLY BIRD: Ravens are on another late-season roll

EARLY BIRD: Ravens are on another late-season roll
December 17, 2013, 8:15 am
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Ravens players praise Tucker's late-game heroics

EARLY BIRD: Waking up with the Ravens, most definitely a team on a roll.

Morning buzz: Still pinching yourself after the Ravens won Monday night without scoring a touchdown? Still blown away by Justin Tucker’s 61-yard field goal to win the game, his 33rd consecutive made field goal? If you are a Ravens fan, you are not dreaming. Monday night’s 18-16 Ravens victory that left Baltimore celebrating and Motown in shock with what really happened.

With their fourth straight win, the Ravens (8-6) remain in control of their playoff destiny. If they beat the Patriots at home Sunday, and defeat the Bengals Week 17 in Cincinnati, the Ravens will win the AFC North. Could the Ravens be starting another late season magic carpet ride? Not so fast, not with the Ravens still needing to secure a playoff spot. But the Ravens are getting breaks, and making their own breaks. That’s a good sign for any team.

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Player in the spotlight: Justin Tucker

Who else? No kicker in the NFL has been more important to his team. John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell were left open for tons of criticism late in the game before Tucker’s last field goal. On third-and-10 from Detroit’s 45-yard line with 1:20 left, a run was called for Ray Rice, instead of a passing play that could have potentially moved the Ravens closer. Rice only got two yards. That left Harbaugh with the decision either to go for first down on fourth-and-eight, or ask Tucker to kick from 61 yards away. Tucker boomed it and bailed out the Ravens. Harbaugh might want to take Tucker to dinner.

Today’s schedule: A day off, and the Ravens need it. They landed back in Baltimore after 4 a.m. and they have a short week to prepare for the Patriots.

Morning thought: “I don’t want to say anything out of context, but every game from here on out is a playoff game for the Ravens. Our playoffs have started.” – Ravens running back Ray Rice, after Monday night’s game.