Flacco's high-arcing, 70-yard touchdown pass that soared through the icy air, flew over two defenders and landed in the hands of Jacoby Jones catapulted the Ravens to a 38-35 divisional playoff victory over the Denver Broncos. It will be remembered as the top play in franchise history and one of the greatest in NFL postseason history.
The five-year anniversary of the defining moment of the Ravens' Super Bowl run seems even more miraculous when you consider what has unfolded in the five years since the Mile High Miracle:
Flacco has only thrown one winning or tying touchdown in the final minute of regulation. In the snow game of 2014, Flacco's 9-yard touchdown pass to Marlon Brown with four seconds remaining propelled Baltimore to a 29-26 win over the Minnesota Vikings. In total, Flacco has three touchdown passes in the final minute of regulation (two of which came in losing efforts and had no effect on the outcome).
With less than a minute left in regulation and the game on the line, Flacco has attempted two passes that traveled at least 50 yards in the air. Both fell incomplete. In a 2014 regular-season game, he couldn't connect with Brown on a 54-yard pass with 49 seconds left and Baltimore lost to the Colts, 20-13. In a 2014 divisional playoff game, Flacco's 52-yard pass resulted in an incompletion with four seconds remaining in a 35-31 loss to the Patriots.
Flacco is 5-for-15 (33.3 percent) on passes that have traveled at least 50 yards in the air. The strange part is Flacco, who has one of the strongest arms in the NFL, has only attempted one such deep pass in the past two seasons. It was a 54-yard strike to Mike Wallace last season in Oakland.
Flacco has two touchdowns on passes that have gone at least 50 yards in the air. In 2013, he delivered a 66-yard deep ball amid strong wind gusts to Jones, who burned former Ravens safety Ed Reed for the score. In 2014, Flacco became the fastest quarterback in NFL history to throw five touchdowns when his 56-yard pass to Steve Smith Sr. put Baltimore ahead of Tampa Bay 35-0 just 16 minutes, 3 seconds into the game. That means Flacco has gone 54 games without throwing a touchdown on a pass 50 yards or longer.
Looking back, the Mile High Miracle had everything you want in a historic play. There was late-game drama: The Ravens trailed the Broncos by a touchdown (35-28) with 41 seconds remaining and no timeouts.
There were high stakes: The winner advanced to the AFC championship game.
And there was the thrill of the upset: The Ravens were 9.5-point underdogs to the top-seeded Broncos, who were led by Peyton Manning.
It marked a turning point in the career of Flacco, who outdueled Manning by throwing for 331 yards and three touchdowns. His best throw, however, wasn't his easiest one. Even though the Broncos were rushing three players, Flacco had to step up into the pocket because of pass-rush pressure before spotting a wide-open receiver down the right sideline. Jones wasn't jammed at the line of scrimmage and had slipped behind cornerback Tony Carter and safety Rahim Moore. After catching the ball at the 20-yard line, Jones had a clear path to the end zone.
This improbable play was even sweeter for the Ravens and their fans considering what they went through a year earlier. The Ravens watched a trip to the Super Bowl get ripped away from them in January 2012 when Lee Evans dropped a potential touchdown pass and Billy Cundiff missed a short field goal in the AFC Championship Game in New England. The roles were reversed a year later when Flacco heaved that touchdown pass to Jones. According to ESPN Stats & Information’s win probability model, Denver had a 97.2 percent chance of winning the game before that play.
"At that point," Flacco said after the game, "you have to start taking shots. You have to get a little lucky."