The Philadelphia Eagles had such high hopes on Sep. 16, 2012. When that day ended, the Eagles had beaten the Baltimore Ravens and improved their record to 2-0. Yet in the next five months, Philadelphia only won two more times, while Baltimore kept winning until it finally won the Lombardi Trophy on Feb. 3.
The Ravens held off the San Francisco 49ers by 34-31 to win the Super Bowl, despite almost blowing a 28-6 lead after a second half power outage. However, the Ravens found a way to protect a lead, which they couldn’t do in Philadelphia five months earlier.
When the Eagles took on the Ravens on Sept. 16, they fell behind by 17-7 and let Joe Flacco torch them in the first half. The 49ers were also burned by Flacco to start the Super Bowl, yet fell into a deeper hole than the Eagles ever did.
In spite of their weaknesses, the Eagles stayed in range of the Ravens and didn’t need to make a 22-point comeback. They contained Flacco in the second half and gave Michael Vick a chance to lead them back in the final minutes, down by 23-17. And for the second straight week, Vick pulled off a last-minute touchdown to give the Eagles a victory.
Given that Philadelphia narrowly escaped defeat in the first two weeks of 2012, it was a cause for concern. Yet even back then, no one imagined that the Eagles would go 2-12 after beating the Ravens. The win looked like an apparition after Baltimore went on an 8-1 run following the loss, although its 1-4 record after that made its Super Bowl run more improbable.
Nevertheless, the Eagles can now brag that one of its four wins this past season was over the Super Bowl champions. Of course, it only makes that game even harder to believe, for both Philadelphia and Baltimore.
The Eagles were lucky not to go 0-16 in 2012, but the Ravens had their share of luck too. If not for a 4th-and-29 conversion by Ray Rice against the San Diego Chargers on Nov. 25 -- a play reminiscent of Freddie Mitchell’s 4th-and-26 playoff catch for the Eagles in 2004 -- the Ravens would have wound up missing the postseason.
Luck didn’t favor Baltimore back in September, while it seemed to bless Philadelphia early on. However, their fortunes would reverse in the most dramatic fashion possible.