For the second week in a row the Baltimore Ravens defeated a team led by a future hall of fame quarterback…and this time they didn’t need a field goal in double overtime to pull it off.
Although the first half of the AFC Championship got off to a slow start at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, the Ravens absolutely dominated Tom Brady and the Patriots in the second half of the game.
But hey…you already know the details and you already know that the Ravens are going to the Super Bowl…pretty sweet!
However that also means one very important thing… I AM GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL
Let me have my little kid moment.
It really hasn’t sunk in yet. To have the opportunity to photograph on the biggest stage in football, amongst THE BEST photographers in the world is a crazy and somewhat daunting thought.
Luckily I have two weeks to let that thought marinate and focus on shooting the biggest game of my career.
The air was too thin. The quarterback wasn’t elite. The linebacker was past his prime. The opposition, too great to overcome.
No one gave the Ravens a chance……except the Ravens.
Last week when Ray Lewis walked out of the tunnel at M&T Bank stadium for the last time, I thought to myself. “OK, this is the emotional pinnacle of the year.”
Not so fast.
I’ve never photographed such an amazing roller coast of a football game in my life.
Needless to say with as much action went on, as fate would have it, I didn’t have a great shot at most of it. The first four touchdowns were either on the opposite side of the field, facing away from me or completely obstructed. It was pretty frustrating.
But in the moment I realized that the game was bigger than my ego and I was happy to be there to witness such a monumental game in Ravens history.
Luckily my focus during any given football game attempts to go beyond the action and delve into the intense emotions that surround these games.
After the game, the locker room was absolutely ecstatic. Hearing speeches from Coach Harbaugh and Ray Lewis you realize that there is something special going with this team, you can just feel it.
As the Ravens continue on their journey, their faith in each other and their faith in a power greater than themselves guides them along the way.
Next stop, Foxborough. See you there.
I don’t get nervous before shooting games. At least I didn’t until Sunday…
With Ray Lewis announcing his pending retirement last week, the stress of figuring out how I was going to cover his last game at M&T Bank stadium was overwhelming.
“Ray’s Last Dance” was the prominent headline throughout the week and the anticipation of Ray coming out of the tunnel and doing “the squirrel” for the last time almost outweighed the game itself.
I have shot Ray countless times coming out of the tunnel from many different perspectives…The last thing I wanted to do was to shoot an image that could be mistaken for just another game. Knowing I had many images of Ray from a forward or side perspective I immediately knew I wanted to shoot him from behind. I had done this once before, but never from INSIDE the tunnel.
The image was already burned into my brain…Ray IN the tunnel walking out to the field through the smoke. It spoke loudly to me about the finality of this event.
I shot in the tunnel and also placed a remote camera on the top of the “Ravens eyes”, an idea that I have had for the longest time, but never put into action. Glad I saved it until now.
Looking back you always think how you could have done things differently. I would have changed a few things, but the most important part is that I was able to capture the essence of this day for Ray and for the Ravens.
I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity over the last 6 years to document many moments in Ravens history and to work up close and personal with a player whose combination of faith, passion and ability will never be duplicated.
Ray may be leaving, but his legacy will always remain in Baltimore.
The Ravens are in the playoffs for the 5th time in as many years.
No other NFL team can say that.
Who knows what the future will bring for the Ravens this year, but it sure has been a fun ride.
I forgot to blog the Giants game so I’m including those images along with new images from the Bengals game.
Thanks to everyone for checking out my images this year and I hope to keep you entertained in 2013.