The Mile High Miracle

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Posted: November 12, 2017


During the 2012 AFC Divisional playoff game between the Denver Broncos and the Baltimore Ravens, the Raven Jacoby Jones scored a game-tying touchdown from a 70-yard pass from Joe Flacco with less than a minute left in the game. The play was christened the Mile High Miracle, and is together with the game in which it occurred considered one of the all-time greats. The Ravens would win 38-35 in overtime, en route to a Super Bowl win. The game, played at the Broncos’ Sports Authority Field at Mile High is widely considered one of the best games in football history.

Buildup to the Mile High Miracle

The Ravens had finished the season with a 10-6 record before defeating the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Wild Card Game. The Denver Broncos with the legendary quarterback Peyton Manning in their ranks had finished with a 13-3 record, which was the best in the AFC, after winning the final 11 games. The two teams had met during week 5 of the season, with the Broncos winning 34-17. It was therefore understandable that the Broncos were considered favorites coming into the game. The playoff game was played in frigid conditions, with the mercury dipping to 13 degrees, easily the coldest playoff game to be played in Denver. The Broncos opened with a 90-yard touchdown from Sam Koch in the opening play. The Ravens equalized shortly after that through Torrey Smith.

The Ravens then went ahead through an Eric Decker touchdown after he had intercepted a pass from Manning. With Manning turning on the heat, the Broncos rallied to tie the game through a touchdown by Brandon Stokley as the first quarter drew to a close. The two teams each made a touchdown in the second quarter to leave the scores tied at 21-21. The third quarter was equally drawn out, with the teams heading into the second break at 28-28. In the fourth quarter, a 17-yard pass from Manning to Demaryius Thomas for a touchdown gave Denver the lead once more and the scores remained unchanged as the clock wound down.

The Mile High Miracle Unfolds

At the 0:44, the Ravens kicked off from third-and-three on their 30-yard line. From the ensuing play, Flacco emerged with possession after poor defensive setup by the Broncos, and then made a pass towards the advancing Jones. Jones caught the ball at the bronco’s 20-yard line after Rahim Moore mistimed his jump for an attempted interception. Jones then sprinted the remaining distance to the end zone uncovered, for a game-tying touchdown, which sent the game into overtime.

The teams held their grounds until the last play of the overtime period, which the ravens used to move the ball into field goal range. Kicker Justin Tucker hit a field goal from 47 yards out to secure a win for the Ravens.

Aftermath of the Mile High Miracle

In the AFC Championship game, the Ravens met the New England Patriots who had beaten them at the same stage the previous year. They went on to beat the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII, only their second ever championship win. Much of the blame for the Broncos’ loss was directed at Peyton Manning’s uncharacteristic passing statistics, having thrown two interceptions in that game, which tied him for career playoff interceptions with Brett Favre. Denver head coach John Fox also bore some of the blame, mainly for his conservative play calling. During the opening game of the 2013 season, the Broncos hosted the Ravens at Mile High, with the chance to avenge for the playoff beating. The Broncos came out 49-27 winners.

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