Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 1/15/13
Sometimes in a season a team is picked out as being a team of destiny. A strange title to label any team with, really.At any given moment that team could have their destiny taken away from them with a loose pass run back for a touchdown, or a fumble at the worst time leading to a score from the opposition.If there is a team that could be labelled as a team of destiny this year it has to be the Baltimore Ravens.Doing enough in the early part of the season, starting 9-2, they limped into the playoffs. Losing four of their last five games to end up AFC North winners with a record of 10-6.Like most teams they suffered setbacks on their roster through injuries. The most high-profile being that of defensive and inspirational team leader, Ray Lewis.When Lewis announced his impending retirement at the end of this season in the build up to the Ravens' playoff game with the Indianapolis Colts, it stirred the emotions to new heights for the Ravens' organization. There was a real sense of renewed urgency.When Lewis emerged from the smoke-filled entrance in his last home match he not only roared his way through the dry ice, but all through the game. The leader of men had no intention of this game being his last. The vastly improved Colts team could not generate anything to threaten the Ravens in the Wild Card round.When a team sets a league-high 13-3 record, which includes an 11-game wining streak, you would of course expect that team to start a playoff match as handy favorites. So it was with the Denver Broncos, led by the future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. The match that kicked off the Divisional Round of playoff games was truly one for the ages. A game which had no real right to play out the way it did.The Baltimore Ravens of this year are no ordinary playoff team it seems.The fact that Joe Flacco went toe-to-toe with Manning was not a total surprise, but the manner in which he didn't bow down to the pressure as expected was a shock to many. It was a measured display which saw him finish with 331 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-tying 70-yard pass to Jacoby Jones with just 38 ticks left on the clock.The supporting cast to these two headliners has also stepped up. Ray Rice, Jones, Anquan Boldin, Dannell Ellerbe, Terrell Suggs and the evergreen Ed Reed have all played their part in holding the team together in the season's last few weeks, and strengthened further in the past two games.Right now this is the most dangerous team left in the playoffs. Any team that fails to prepare properly for them will do so at their own risk.Ray Lewis walking out of New Orleans with a Lombardi trophy held above his head? A fitting end to an illustrious career.
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