It was the reach heard round the National Football League. Antonio Brown’s game-deciding touchdown reception, with 9 seconds to go that ended the Ravens playoff push, gave the Steelers a 31-27 victory and the AFC North. Nearly 24 hours later, it was still though to stomach for Baltimore fans and the head coach.
“When you put that much into it - heart, soul, effort, belief in one another, a lot of hard work - it’s gonna sting. It’s gonna sting for us. It’s gonna sting for our fans. It’s gonna sting for everybody,” said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh late Monday afternoon.
Now all that’s left is one more game. New Year’s Day in Cincinnati.
“We have a week of football left to play and we intend to make the most of it,” said Harbaugh.
The season finale won’t only be the last game for the 2016 version of the Ravens, it should also be the final one in the 16-year career of Steve Smith Sr., who is expected to retire following the game.
“I think he’ll approach it the same way he has it all year, as a pro,” said Harbaugh. “It will be very meaningful certainly. How could it not be.”
How unique will this New Year’s Day contest against the Bengals be for the Ravens, just ask quarterback Joe Flacco, who postgame on Sunday said this is all brand new territory for him.
“I think next week will be the first true meaningless, in terms of playoff implication, games that I’ve ever played in,” said Flacco. “I’ve been fortunate in that respect. It will definitely be a little bit different.”