The 2012 Baltimore Ravens season was the team's 17th season in the National Football League. While the Ravens failed to improve on their 12–4 record from 2011, they did still manage to clinch the AFC North division title in Week 16 and finish the regular season with a 10–6 record, sending them to their fifth straight playoffs, where they advanced to the AFC Championship Game for the second consecutive season, and then to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2000. They won their second Super Bowl, 34–31 against the San Francisco 49ers. It was the first time in franchise history that the Ravens won consecutive division titles. This marks head coachJohn Harbaugh's fifth season as the head coach of the franchise and fifth consecutive post-season appearance. The Ravens played their home games at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Ravens dedicated their season to former owner and founder Art Modell, who died on September 6, 2012. On Week 1, all team members wore an "Art" decal on their helmets, and for the rest of their season, they wore an "Art" patch on the left side of their jerseys.
^[a] The team traded its first-round selection (#29) to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for the #35 overall selection in the second round, as well as the Vikings' fourth-round selection (#98 overall).
^[b] The team traded up from its original third-round selection (#91 overall) to the #84 overall selection, also giving the Atlanta Falcons their fifth-round pick (#164 overall).
The Ravens started their season at home against the Bengals. They jumped out to a 3–0 lead in the first quarter with Justin Tucker's 46-yard field goal. This was followed up by Ray Rice's 7-yard run to make the score 10–0. The Bengals got on the board in the 2nd quarter with Mike Nugent's 34-yard field goal to shorten the lead to 10–3. However, the Ravens were able to pull away as Joe Flacco found Anquan Boldin on a 34-yard touchdown pass to move ahead 17–3. The Bengals responded coming within 7 when Benjarvus Green-Ellis ran for a 6-yard touchdown making the score 17–10 at halftime. In the 3rd quarter, the Bengals were able to get within 4 points with Nugent kicking a 19-yard field goal shortening the Ravens' lead to 4 17–13. However, the Ravens overpowered the Bengals scoring 27 unanswered points as Flacco found Dennis Pitta on a 10-yard pass to move ahead 24–13 followed up by Tucker scoring a 40-yard field goal moving them ahead 27–13. This was followed by an Ed Reed interception that was returned 34 yards for a touchdown moving the team ahead 34–13. In the 4th quarter, the Ravens scored again off of Rice's 1-yard run for a 41–13 lead and finished the game off of Tucker's 39-yard field goal to make the final score 44–13.
Ed Reed returned an interception for a 34-yard touchdown, making Reed the all-time leader in career interception return yards with 1,497. The previous record of 1,483 yards was held by Rod Woodson.
For the first time in 5 years, head coach John Harbaugh made his first return to Philadelphia, where he served as the Eagles' special teams coordinator and defensive backs from 1998-2007, and was also part of the 2004 Eagles that made Super Bowl XXXIX. Baltimore took the lead in the second quarter and held it for most of the game, but with 1:57 remaining in the fourth quarter Michael Vick ran for a one-yard touchdown. With the surprising loss, the Ravens fell to 1–1.
This game was played in the shadow of the death of WR Torrey Smith's brother, who had died in a motorcycle crash the night before. The Ravens entered the game hoping to be able to avenge the AFC Championship loss of the previous season, which came at the hands of the Patriots. New England started off fast as they drew to a 13–0 lead in the first quarter. However Baltimore scored 2 straight touchdowns to take the lead with 1:47 left to go in the half. Then Brady scored a touchdown right at the end of the half to retake the lead 20–14. The second half started off with a touchdown pass from Flacco to Dennis Pitta to put the Ravens on top 21–20. Then the Patriots retook the lead when Tom Brady scored a touchdown. After that the Baltimore defense began to step it up and held the Pats to a field goal. Then the momentum shifted as Baltimore scored a touchdown (Flacco to Torrey Smith). After forcing a Patriots punt, the Ravens drove down the field to score a field goal as time expired to win the game 31–30.
The Ravens avenged the AFC Championship loss and improved to 2–1 and continued their unbeaten record at home from the previous year along with continuing their streak of winning after a loss.
Based on Torrey Smith's performance through personal hardship, this game was ranked #9 on NFL.com's Top 20 NFL Games of 2012 as Showing Up. Smith finishes with six receptions for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
This game was also remembered for two controversial incidents. Late in the fourth quarter, with New England leading 30-28, coach John Harbaugh was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct for coming out onto the field, which by NFL rules, is prohibited. However, Harbaugh was claiming that he was trying to only call a timeout to save time for his team. Since the NFL was using replacement refs at the time, and not the original refs, this was another controversial incident involving replacement refs. The penalty resulted in an irate Ravens crowd chanting "Bullshit" three separate times in just over a minute during the Patriots last drive, which was picked up by NBC microphones and was clearly audible during the broadcast. Play-by-play announcer Al Michaels said, "That's the loudest manure chant I've ever heard".
The other controversy is the winning field goal by Tucker. The ball, after it had been kicked, sailed over the top of the right upright. It was ruled "good", giving Baltimore the win. However, clear replays show that the ball was extremely close to sailing wide of the upright Since field goals are not reviewable, the play could not be reviewed. Patriots coach Bill Belichick, as he was leaving the field, grabbed one of the officials, resulting in him being fined $50,000 by the NFL.
Days before the game, the team was fined $20,000 for not adding Ed Reed to the injury report.
The Ravens drew first blood as Justin Tucker nailed a 51-yard field goal, but Connor Barwin sacked Joe Flacco in the end zone for a safety that started a string of 29 unanswered Houston points. Matt Schaub found Kevin Walter in the end zone on a 25-yard touchdown pass to take a 9–3 lead, and the Texans added on in the 2nd quarter with Johnathan Joseph returning an interception 52 yards for a touchdown. Schaub's one-yard pass to Owen Daniels and a pair of Shayne Graham field goals put the hosts up 29-3 at halftime. The Ravens got right back to work in the 3rd quarter as Flacco connected with Tandon Doss on a 15-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 29–10, but the Texans pulled away as Arian Foster ran for two short scores, which were separated by a 54-yard Tucker field goal early in the fourth quarter.
It was the Ravens' first loss ever to the Texans in franchise history and first loss to a Houston NFL team since 1996. The Ravens headed into their bye week 5–2 while also dropping their record to 5–1 against the Texans in the regular season and 6–1 against them overall.
The Ravens got their 15th straight home win (16 including playoffs) by defeating the Raiders. Baltimore set a franchise record for points in a game with 55 – improving on the previous record of 48 set against the Detroit Lions on December 13, 2009 – as the team improved to 7–2. Jacoby Jones returned a kickoff for a 105-yard touchdown, making him the first player in league history to have two career kickoff returns of at least 105 yards. Jones had returned a kickoff for 108 yards in Week 6 against the Cowboys.
The game went into overtime with a field goal by Tucker. The field goal was set up by conversion of a 4th and 29 play where Joe Flacco completed a short pass to Ray Rice and Rice raced 29 yards on the ground for the first down, which would become the 2012 best play of the year. With the surprising win, the Ravens move into 9–2, getting revenge for the previous year's loss in San Diego on Sunday Night Football.
With 3rd-string QB Charlie Batch at the helm, the Steelers handed the Ravens their first home loss since December 5, 2010 and the Ravens fell to 9–3. This also snapped their 12-game winning streak over division rivals and 3-game winning streak over the Steelers.
The Ravens allowed their starters to come out for a few minutes in the first quarter, then played their second-string players for the rest of the game. With the loss to the Bengals, the Ravens finished the season 10–6.
Ray Lewis lines up in the backfield for the final play of the Ravens' 24–9 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the Wildcard Round of the 2012–2013 NFL Playoffs. This would be Lewis' final play in Baltimore.
By winning the AFC North title, the Ravens hosted the Colts — a team that once played in Baltimore until moving to Indianapolis in 1984 — in the Wild Card round. This relocation remains a controversial issue. The Ravens had faced the Colts in the playoffs twice before, losing both times without scoring any touchdowns in divisional rounds: in 2006 and 2009.
The Ravens, with Ray Lewis playing in his final home game, limited the Colts to three field goals while Joe Flacco managed a pair of touchdown throws.
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was a part of the Ravens' coaching staff from 2008 to 2011, serving as defensive coordinator during the 2011 season. Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell was the head coach of the Colts from 2009 to 2011. Before the game, Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was hospitalized with an illness.
The win also marked the first time in NFL history that a starting QB has won at least 1 playoff game in his first 5 seasons as Flacco's playoff record improved to 6–4 and the team's overall record improved to 11–6.
AFC Divisional Playoff Game: at #1 Denver Broncos
The Ravens faced the Denver Broncos for the second time in the playoffs, having defeated them 21–3 in the 2000 Wild Card playoffs, and also faced Peyton Manning for the third time in a playoff run.
The Broncos clawed to a 35–28 lead but had to punt back to the Ravens in the final two minutes. In the signature play of the game—a deep touchdown strike by Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones which has come to be known as the Mile-High Miracle—the Ravens tied the game after facing a 3rd-and-3, and with only :41 seconds left in the 4th quarter. After Baltimore tied the game, Manning and the Broncos took a controversial kneel down with 30-seconds left on the clock and two timeouts to take it to overtime. Later in the first overtime Manning was intercepted at his own 45-yard line, setting up the winning Ravens field goal in the opening minute of the second overtime. By improving to 1–2 against Manning in the playoffs, this was the Ravens' first victory against him since the 2001 season when he was with Indianapolis, along with their first-ever road victory against him. Synonymous with the biggest play of the game, this game goes down in Ravens lore as the Mile High Miracle. The victory improved their overall season record to 12–6.
AFC Championship: at #2 New England Patriots
AFC Championship: #4 Baltimore Ravens at #2 New England Patriots – Game summary
The Ravens found themselves playing against the Patriots in the AFC Championship game for the second year in a row after losing to them in heartbreaking fashion by a score of 23–20 in the 2011 AFC Championship game.
With the comeback win after trailing in the first-half, the Ravens not only improved their overall record to 13–6, but also advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time in twelve years.
The Ravens were the last team to defeat the Patriots at Foxborough in the playoffs until the Tennessee Titans pulled off the feat 7 years later.
The Ravens advanced to their second Super Bowl in franchise history, facing the San Francisco 49ers. This would be the first time two brothers were head coaches of opposing teams in the Super Bowl with the 49ers being led by Jim Harbaugh, John Harbaugh's younger brother. The Ravens were designated the visiting team. After leading the entire game, the Ravens held on at the end, stopping the 49ers on four plays inside their own 10-yard line, then taking an intentional safety with four seconds remaining to milk the clock. During the 3rd quarter of the game, half of the power went out in the Superdome, leading to over a 30-minute delay in the game. They finished the season with an overall record of 14–6 with their 4–0 playoff run and improved to 2–0 in Super Bowl appearances, handing the 49ers their first Super Bowl loss as a franchise. The Ravens' win also marked the third-straight season in which a team seeded third or lower in its conference would defeat a top-seeded team from the other conference in a Super Bowl. With this win, the Ravens replaced the 49ers as being the only NFL team, to date, to win multiple Super Bowls without a defeat.
Team owner Steve Bisciotti stated during a press conference that the Ravens Super Bowl ring for the 2012 season was going to be white gold instead of yellow gold, at the request of players and coaches. While offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was fired after a week 14 loss to the Washington Redskins, head coach John Harbaugh stated that Cameron deserved and received a Super Bowl ring.