Ravens Revive for Lewis
Baltimore Ravens and NFL personnel take Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis's jersey after an NFL wild card playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, in Baltimore. The Ravens won 24-9. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Baltimore — On a day when Baltimore Ravens fans said their goodbyes to linebacker Ray Lewis, it was the combination of Joe Flacco and Anquan Boldin that sent the team into the next round.
The Lewis-led defense certainly did its part, holding the Colts without a touchdown and forcing two turnovers. But it was Flacco and Boldin who ignited a sluggish offense in the second half. Flacco threw two second-half touchdown passes to Boldin and Dennis Pitta and the Ravens beat the Indianapolis Colts, 24-9, in front of an announced 71,379 at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Ravens will face the AFC West champion Denver Broncos on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in a divisional playoff game. The Broncos beat the Ravens, 34-17, on Dec. 16 in Baltimore.
Flacco threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns and Boldin caught five passes for 145 yards and a touchdown, all in the second half.
The Ravens set a franchise playoff high with 441 yards of offense, with running back Bernard Pierce rushing for more than 100 yards in his playoff debut.
As the clock ticked down, Ravens coach John Harbaugh sent in Lewis to serve as the safety as Flacco took a knee. Lewis then did one final dance at home as his teammates converged on him. Lewis finished with a team-high 12 tackles and Paul Kruger had 21/2 sacks.
After a sluggish first half, Flacco finally got going in the third quarter. He completed a 50-yard pass to Boldin down the right sideline on the Ravens’ first drive of the third quarter. However, an offensive pass interference call on Boldin ultimately forced the Ravens to punt.
They got the ball back and Flacco hit Boldin for 46 yards on a perfect throw down the right sideline. Two plays later, Flacco hit tight end Dennis Pitta on a 20-yard touchdown pass. That gave the Ravens a 17-6 lead with 8:33 left in the third quarter.
The Colts answered with another long drive, but again, they were held out of the end zone. An Adam Vinatieri 26-yard field goal made it a 17-9 game.
Ray Rice then gave Indianapolis the ball back with his second fumble of the day in Colts territory. However, a missed 40-yard field goal by Vinatieri stalled the Colts momentum, and then Flacco hit Boldin for an 18-yard touchdown to give the Ravens a 24-0 lead and all but put the game away.
All eyes were on Lewis during the pre-game warmups. Playing for the first time since Oct. 14 when he tore his right triceps against the Dallas Cowboys, Lewis hopped onto the field, running past a group of cameras. When he took his position at middle linebacker, he was given a standing ovation.
As the rest of the Ravens headed off the field, Lewis jogged into the end zone to visit with friends and family members. He then hugged NFL commissioner Roger Goodell before heading to the locker room.
With not an open seat visible during the pre-game introductions, Lewis, as he always does, came out last for his much-discussed “Final Dance.” As he finished up his routine, the rest of his teammates converged on him. Finally, after a week of anticipation, the two teams were ready to play football.
After all the pre-game emotion, it was a relatively quiet start for both teams. Following a Donnie Avery 15-yard reverse on the game’s first play, the Colts gained 1 total yard on their next three plays and were forced to punt.
The Ravens did move the ball on their first drive, which started at their own 48, thanks to a good return by Jacoby Jones. A 24-yard Flacco completion to Ed Dickson put the ball deep into Colts’ territory. However, on second-and-6 from the Colts’ 11, Rice was stripped by his former teammate, Cory Redding, as he looked for running room. The lost fumble, which was recovered by Lawrence Guy, was Rice’s first all season.
Indianapolis took the ball at its 11 and engineered a long drive to get to the Ravens’ 30. However, on third-and-5, Luck was stripped by Paul Kruger and the ball was recovered by Pernell McPhee.
The Ravens got on the board first with rookie Justin Tucker booting a 23-yard field goal with 11:18 to play. However, the 10-play drive, which featured plenty of Pierce, seemed more promising as the Ravens had first-and-goal on the 8. But after a 3-yard run by Pierce and two incompletions that hit off Tandon Doss’ hands, the Ravens were forced to send in Tucker.
The Colts answered the field goal later in the second quarter with Vinatieri converting from 47 yards to tie the game at 3 with 4:25 left before halftime. The two big plays on the scoring drive were 22-yard and 13-yard completions to rookie tight end Dwayne Allen.
When the Ravens got the ball at their 37 following another good return from Jones, Flacco had completed just three passes for 53 yards. He hit Jones for 8 yards on third down and then a screen play to Rice resulted in a 55-yard pass down to the Colts’ 2. From there, fullback Vonta Leach ran it in to give the Ravens a 10-3 lead.
Trailing by a touchdown, the Colts got the ball back at their own 20 with 50 seconds left in the second quarter. After an intentional grounding call on Luck, they faced a third-and-26 situation from their own 41 with 12 seconds left. But Luck hit T.Y. Hilton for 25 yards and then Vinatieri kicked a 52-yard field as time expired in the half to make it a 10-6 game.