After an inconsistent season with a banged up defense, the Baltimore Ravens pulled off a 24-9 win in the wild-card game of the playoffs against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
Several intriguing story lines surrounded this game and it lived up to the hype. It was Pro Bowl middle linebacker Ray Lewis’ last home game since announcing he will retire after this season. The fans were loud saying good-bye to their fearless leader.
It was the first time former Ravens’ defensive coordinator and now Colts’ head coach Chuck Pagano, returned to Baltimore after leaving last season. He underwent treatment for Leukemia in the fall and remained close to many of his former players in Baltimore.
It was also the first time Ravens’ offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell faced his former team. Caldwell was the head coach of the Colts from 2009-2011.
The Ravens were pumped up in front of the home crowd. They capitalized on the high of Lewis’ last home stand and played an intense game.
Quarterback Joe Flacco was 12 for 23 for 232 yards with two touchdowns. The offensive line did a job protecting him.
The Ravens relieved on their running game. Ray Rice had 15 carries for 70 yards and two fumbles. The excitement of Lewis’ last game likely got to him and shouldn’t be a cause for concern, Rice only had one fumble in the 2012 regular season. The Colts did not convert the turnovers into scores.
Backup running back Bernard Pierce had 13 carries for 103 yards.
Wide receiver Anquan Boldin set a franchise record with 145 yards on five receptions and one touchdown.
The rested Ravens’ defense stepped up the challenge of stopping Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck. Luck had 388 yards with one interception and no touchdowns.
Lewis had 13 tackles and linebacker Paul Kruger was a rock star with 2.5 sacks on the day.
Two Ravens’ linebackers were injured during the game; Dannell Ellerbe left the game with an ankle sprain and Terrell Suggs said he tweaked his surgically repaired Achilles tendon, but the pain wasn’t enough to leave the game. Both are expected back Saturday.
The Ravens will head to Denver to face Peyton Manning and Broncos on Saturday in the divisional round.
I was fortunate to be this game and it lived up to the hype. I could feel the love the city of Baltimore had for Ray Lewis, the fans were loud and they constantly cheered on their beloved 52.
It was awesome witnessing Lewis’ dance one last time; it was always my favorite part of the game (aside from the Ravens winning) and it is something I will sorely miss.
My Ravens made me proud for overcoming so many injuries this season and I’m happy I got to see them win a playoff game.
I will miss Ray Lewis, but I will always have the memories. I can only hope that the Ravens continue their season a bit longer so that I don’t have to say good-bye to Lewis just yet…