The Ravens had everything going against them in the AFC divisional game versus the Denver Broncos at Mile High on Saturday. Few picked them to win and most believed they had no chance of winning, but the Ravens proved them wrong, very wrong indeed.
The Ravens won 38-35 in the fourth longest playoff game ever with an official time of 76:42.
Thankfully the game ended better than it started for the Ravens. The Broncos scored on the opening drive when Trindon Holliday returned the punt 90 yards for a touchdown.
The Ravens quickly responded when wide receiver Torrey Smith scored a 59-yard touchdown and with a blink of an eye they scored again when cornerback Corey Graham picked off a pass and ran it 39 yards to score another touchdown.
There was more back and forth and the teams were tied at 21 before half time.
The start of the second half felt like déjà vous when Holliday returned the kickoff 104 yards for another touchdown. It was the longest kickoff return in NFL post season history.
Both teams scored touchdowns in the third quarter, then with 7:11 left in the fourth, the Broncos scored a touchdown to take a 35-28 lead.
Late in the fourth at third and three and 31 seconds left in the regulation game, quarterback Joe Flacco threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jacoby Jones and the game went to overtime.
The Ravens’ defense stepped it up at the end of the first OT when Graham intercepted Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning. At the start of the second OT the Ravens reached field goal range and rookie kicker Justin Tucker hit a 47-yard field goal to win the game.
With the win, the Ravens will head to New England to play the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game in a rematch of last year’s title game. The Patriots won and advanced to the Super Bowl, hopefully it will have a different ending this time.
Flacco was nearly flawless; he outplayed Manning. Flacco threw for 331 yards with three touchdowns, no interceptions, one fumbled snap and a quarterback rating of 116.2.
Running back Ray Rice had 30 touches for 131 yards and one touchdown. Wide receiver Torrey Smith shined with two touchdowns.
The Ravens defense forced three turnovers and held Manning to 290 yards and three touchdowns. Manning did not have any deep throws in the game.
I will never forget this game; it was a nail biter and there were several times when I thought the Ravens would go home with a loss, thankfully they proved me wrong.
The “good” Flacco show up and destroyed any doubt anyone ever had about him. The Ravens’ defense did an outstanding job containing Manning and his offensive weapons.
I am going to relish the win for a bit before looking ahead to the championship game next week. It’s been an awesome season and I’m not ready for it to end just yet.