Ravens history

Ravens classics: Christmas games, part two

The Ravens were 3-1 in their first four Christmas games. Here's how the second four turned out.

The Ravens have played eight times over the Christmas period (which, for our purposes is the 24-26 of December). Part one covered the four games between 1999 and 2005. The Ravens resumed Christmas action a year later.

24 December 2006, in Pittsburgh
Ravens 31, Steelers 7
A true Christmas classic this one, as the Ravens swept the series against the Steelers for the first time. Having shut-out the Steelers, 27-0, in the home game in November, the Ravens came into this one with an 11-3 record and bags of confidence. Steve McNair threw TDs to Mark Clayton and Daniel Wilcox to give the Ravens a 14-0 lead that held until the end of the first half, when the Steelers got a TD of their own. The second half was all Baltimore, however, with McNair throwing his third TD – to Demetrius Williams this time – and Jamal Lewis adding one on the ground. On the other side of the ball, the Ravens sacked Roethlisberger five times, held Willie Parker to 30 yards rushing and nabbed two interceptions. Baltimore went on to win the following week, finishing 13-3 and taking the second seed in the AFC. The season ended in disappointment, though, with the Ravens losing to the Colts in the Divisional Playoff, 15-6.

26 December 2010, in Cleveland
Ravens 20, Browns 10
The 2010 season was another reminder of the tough division that the Ravens have to deal with most years. They finished 12-4 but lost the tiebreaker to the 12-4 Steelers and had to settle for a Wild Card place. Their path took them to Cleveland on Boxing Day, needing a win to ensure a playoff place. The Ravens trailed 7-0 before a Joe Flacco pass to TJ Houshmanzadeh gave them a 13-7 lead that they never relinquished. Flacco found Derrick Mason for a touchdown pass early in the third quarter to put them up 20-10. Ed Reed was on fire – on and off the field. On the field he picked off Colt McCoy twice and off it he stood too close to a sideline heater and his coat was set alight. Lardarius Webb got a third interception and Jameel McLain recovered a fumble as the Ravens defense handled the Browns comfortably.

24 December 2011, in Baltimore
Ravens 20, Browns 14
A year later, the Ravens were facing the Browns again – this time in Baltimore on Christmas Eve. Again the Ravens won, and again the score was tight. It didn’t look like it would be at halftime, with the Ravens leading 17-0 following a 5-yard pass from Flacco to Dickson in the first quarter and a 42-yard TD pass from Flacco to Rice in the second. After the break the Ravens added a field goal but the Browns rallied briefly with two touchdowns to close the gap. This was the year of Baltimore’s record comeback – against the Cardinals – as well as their first perfect home record and first sweep of the division. The Ravens secured their playoff place when they beat the Bengals in Cincinnati a week later but the season ended in disappointment with a narrow loss to New England in the AFC Championship Game.

25 December 2016, in Pittsburgh
Ravens 27, Steelers 31
Only the newest of Ravens fans will be unaware of how this one ended. Needing a win to stay in playoff contention, the Ravens went to Pittsburgh on Christmas Day and came within seconds of victory. Trailing 7-6 at halftime, the Ravens started the second half well with Joe Flacco finding Steve Smith for an 18-yard touchdown and then hitting him again for the two-point conversion. That turned out to be the last touchdown of Smith’s remarkable career. Early in the fourth quarter, the Ravens held a 20-10 lead but then the defense lost its way and the Steelers sprang into life. Two touchdowns from LeVeon Bell put the home team back in the lead. The Ravens went ahead again with a Kyle Juszczyk run but left too much time for the Steelers. Antonio Brown found the end zone with nine seconds left to win the game, eliminate the Ravens from playoff contention and ruin Christmas for Baltimore fans everywhere.

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