Nearly two weeks ago, the Baltimore Ravens trailed the New England Patriots 13-7, with less than 13 minutes to play in the third quarter. The Patriots were driving, and in Baltimore territory when Tom Brady and Wes Welker failed to connect on a third down pass, forcing the Patriots to punt.
From that point on, it was all Baltimore, as the Ravens would march down the field, take a 14-13 lead, and then tack on two more touchdowns, winning the AFC Championship game 28-13, while holding Brady and the Patriots' high-octane offense to zero points in the second half.
If you've followed Baltimore's playoff run so far, then you're probably not surprised. As Jamison Hensley pointed out, the Ravens have dominated opponents in the second half of the playoffs, outscoring opponents 52-17 after halftime so far.
When the Ravens defeated the Colts in the Wild Card round, Baltimore led at halftime, 10-6, but went on to outscore the Colts in the second half, 14-3, and held Andrew Luck and Indianapolis' offense to no points in the fourth quarter.
Baltimore's thrilling double-overtime win over the Denver Broncos in the Divisional round is the only exception so far, as the Ravens and Broncos entered halftime tied at 21, and entered overtime tied at 35, as both teams scored 14 second half points.
Certainly, it's the mark of a championship team to thrive in the second half of games, and that's exactly what the Ravens have done so far in the playoffs.
Still, Baltimore faces its toughest challenge yet in Super Bowl XLVII, and the Ravens can ill afford to rely on second half theatrics to beat the San Francisco 49ers.
New England and Indianapolis both held Baltimore to zero points in the first quarter. Against the Broncos, the Ravens did score two touchdowns -- but they came on a 59-yard Torrey Smith touchdown, and on a Corey Graham pick-six.
If you're counting at home, that's one offensive touchdown in the first quarter of three playoff games. While the Ravens have faced explosive offenses already during the playoffs, the 49ers boast one of the best defenses as well as an explosive offense. Starting slow against San Francisco could certainly come back and haunt Joe Flacco and the Ravens.
Against the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional round, the 49ers exploded for 24 first half points, en route to a 45-31 thrashing over the Packers. Against the Falcons in the NFC Championship game, San Francisco fell behind 17-0 early in the second quarter, but did score two touchdowns in the second quarter, and ultimately won the game, 28-24.
Like the Ravens, the Niners have only scored one touchdown in the first quarter of the playoffs so far -- though, Baltimore has played one more game.
Flacco and Baltimore's offense has proven it can score when it counts -- and its defense has proven that they can stop high powered offenses when it counts. If Baltimore's offense and defense can play four consistent quarters of football on Sunday, then the Ravens have an excellent chance of being crowned champions.