Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ravens win grounds Jets, keeps Dolphins at bay


Things were lining up for the Miami Dolphins Monday night. The New York Jets were about to get a tiny sliver of good news, too.

Down by one point, the Baltimore Ravens, owners of the final AFC Wildcard spot, were facing a last-minute fourth-and-8 from the Detroit Lions' 43-yard line. The Ravens opted to attempt an improbable 61-yard field goal.

If kicker Justin Tucker missed, which was very likely from that distance, the Dolphins would become front-runners for the last playoff seed, and the Jets would remain mathematically alive for at least one more week.

But Tucker made the kick, and Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford threw a game-sealing interception on the very next play from scrimmage to deliver a buzz kill to the Dolphins and a finishing blow to the Jets.

With an 18-16 win, the Ravens stood their ground as the No. 6 seed and officially eliminated the Jets from the playoff race. It didn't affect the Dolphins' win-and-in scenario, but it did keep the pressure on.

The Dolphins still control their own destiny, because even if the Ravens win their next two games, Miami can claim the final Wildcard position with a pair of victories.

To win out, the Ravens would have to beat the Cincinnati Bengals, which would bump Baltimore past Cincinnati to an AFC North division title. The Dolphins would then own the Wildcard tiebreaker over the Bengals.

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