WOW!! What a game. Saturday’s match-up with the Ravens and Broncos easily was the most exciting game of the weekend, which saw Baltimore send Peyton Manning and the Broncos home for the season with a 38-35 double OT win. Saturday’s game between the Broncos and Ravens was a tight one throughout with no team ever having more than a one score lead at any point of the game, but it was Joe Flacco who made the plays down the stretch, not Peyton Manning, and the Ravens are headed to their second straight AFC title game. (In the preview I noted that the Ravens were trying to make it to their third straight AFC title game. I was mistaken in my research and this will be their second straight trip to the AFC Championship and their third in five years.)
Ray Lewis keeps his Hall-Of-Fame career alive for at least one more week after Saturday’s victory. After facing one of his all-time foes in Manning this past week, Lewis has to head to New England Sunday and take on Tom Brady one last time. Isn’t it fitting how on Lewis’s path to one last Super Bowl run has to go through Manning and Brady, two quarterbacks who he has battled for most of his career?
What the Ravens did to win the game
In the preview I noted that the Ravens needed to contain Manning to have a chance to win. While he still threw for three touchdowns and nearly 300 yards, the Ravens D forced manning into two interceptions, none bigger than his turnover in OT to set up the Ravens’ game winning field goal. Baltimore’s defense was trying to harass and make Peyton uncomfortable all game and it paid off in OT when Peyton through his final pass of the season, an across the body thrown in the middle of the field that Corey Graham picked off.
This week Baltimore stuck to its game plan of running the ball and it paid off. For the second straight week Baltimore rushed the ball more than they threw the ball and Ray Rice’s 131 rushing yards sure aided in the victory. Against the Broncos, the Ravens ran the ball 39 times for 155 yards compared to the 34 passing attempts that Flacco had and that formula emerged victorious for the second straight week.
Joe Flacco built upon his performance last week and played stellar again against the Broncos. Flacco went 18 for 34 with 331 yards, 3 touchdowns, and zero interceptions. In my preview I stated that the Ravens have won their last 16 games when Flacco puts up a goose egg in the interception category and he made it 17 straight on Saturday. No play was bigger though, than the 70 strike to Jacoby Jones with under a minute remaining in regulation to tie up the game. Critics were ragging on Flacco all season if he was “Elite” or not. Well Flacco has his Ravens in their second straight AFC championship game and he has one at least one Playoff victory in his first five appearances in the postseason. Oh yea, and Flacco has only been in the league five years.
This week’s match-up to keep an eye on was the match-up between two first ballot Hall-Of Famer’s, Ray Lewis and Peyton Manning. Lewis and his defense won this battle as they forced Peyton into 2 interceptions, with one coming on OT. Lewis also led his team in tackled for the second straight week as he got to the ball carrier 17 times this week. Lewis is still playing at a high level after 17 years in the league and it is simply amazing. His heart and desire is unmatched by anyone in the league. FACT!
This was the toughest game I had to pick all year but my gut feeling didn’t let me down. While I predicted a 24-21 victory, the final score was actually 38-35, still a 3 point game. There’s a weird enigma surrounding this Ravens team and they keep marching along in the playoffs.
After beating the number one seed in the AFC playoffs, the Ravens are “rewarded” with the treat of playing the New England Brady’s, I mean Patriots, this week. Game time is 6:30 on Sunday and will be played in New England. Stay tuned this week for the preview of the AFC Title game. But in the meantime, enjoy that victory Ravens fans! Because it was too SWEEEEEEET!