#1 Ravens Final Stand
Why It Should Win
In the moment, this couldn’t have been more stressful for Ravens fans. The 49ers marching down the field, and getting all the way to the Ravens 10 after a 33-yard Frank Gore rumble. San Francisco’s dynamic offense looked poised to collect 7 points and the lead in the closing moments of the Super Bowl.
But then something funny happened: in a game full of electric offensive players, the Ravens defense put together the type of defensive stand that has defined the franchise since their birth in 1996. It was a group effort: a stuff of Lamichael James up the middle highlighted the D-line and the linebackers. Then it was the corners turn, a group that had been questioned since the loss of All-Pro Lardarius Webb, and they didn’t disappoint. Corey Graham blanketed Michael Crabtree on two straight plays, with Jimmy Smith hammering the ball out on the latter. And then it was the 2nd year man Smith all alone on an island with Crabtree, denying him once more and snuffing out yet another promising San Francisco drive.
This might’ve been the first year that the Ravens offense legitimately outshined their defense, but on the most important plays of the season, it was the old guard answering the bell once again to seal Super Bowl victory number two.
#5 Orioles Wild Card Celebration
Why It Should Win
Of course they lit the plane on fire, and why not? The Orioles were (surprise) underdogs heading into Texas to face Japanese phenom Yu Darvish and the nuclear Texas lineup. But Baltimore had a few tricks up their sleeves: mainly the best road record in the American League (46-35) and a dialed in Joe Saunders. Combined with the usual stellar bullpen work and a little bit of small ball (8 hits, 1 for extra bases), it was enough to take down the two time defending American League Champions in their house.
What made this great was that the O’s hadn’t had any other chances to celebrate. They fell short of forcing a one-game AL East playoff with the Yankees (losing to Tampa Bay 4-1 on the final day of the season). And everyone remembers the O’s standing on the field just itching the pop the champagne before Joe Nathan blew a save to the Angels to put the bubbly back on ice. So this one was well deserved. No waiting for other results, no backing in, just pure unadulterated joy at the first Orioles playoff win in 15 years.
Voting is open from 10:00 AM on Tuesday March 5 to 10:00 AM Wednesday March 6.