4:30 PM ET, January 12, 2013
Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, CO
Ravens rally, stun Broncos on Justin Tucker's FG in double overtime
DENVER -- Welcome to NFL immortality, Joe Flacco.
Somewhere up there in the all-time playoff archives near the "Hail Mary" by Roger Staubach and the "Immaculate Reception" by Franco Harris now lives the "Flacco Fling" by the Baltimore Ravens quarterback.
More Ravens-Broncos Coverage
A succession of crucial mistakes ultimately doomed the top-seeded Broncos Saturday against the Ravens, writes Jeffri Chadiha. Story
Peyton Manning had a chance to pull the Broncos back from the brink of a devastating defeat. Instead, his already shaky playoff legacy took another hit, writes Bill Williamson. Blog
After their improbable win against the Broncos in Denver on Saturday, the Ravens are proving to be a team of destiny, writes Jamison Hensley. Blog
One big throw down the sideline, 70 make-or-break yards on a wing and a prayer -- a high, arcing touchdown pass that soared through the icy air, flew over two defenders, landed in the hands of Jacoby Jones, saved the game for Baltimore and kept Ray Lewis' 17-year career going at least one more week.
The record will show Justin Tucker kicked a 47-yard field goal 1:42 into the second overtime Saturday to give the Ravens a 38-35 victory over Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. The highlight? That would be Flacco's game-tying touchdown to Jones on third-and-3 from the 30 with 31 seconds left in regulation and no timeouts.
"At that point," Flacco said, "you have to start taking shots. You have to get a little lucky."
And while Flacco gets to celebrate that throw, Manning will have a long offseason to think about a really bad one.
On Denver's second possession of overtime, he stopped and threw across his body to the middle of the field and into the arms of Ravens cornerback Corey Graham at Denver's 45. Baltimore (12-6) ran five plays and gained 16 yards before Tucker sailed his winning kick down the middle.
The Manning throw, intended for Brandon Stokley, was one quarterbacks from junior high to the pros are advised not to make. It's a throw that unraveled all the good Manning has accomplished during this, his comeback season from neck surgery during which he threw for 37 touchdowns and led the Broncos (13-4) to top seeding in the AFC.
"Yeah, bad throw," Manning said. "Probably the decision wasn't great, either. I thought I had an opening, and I didn't get enough on it, and I was trying to make a play and certainly a throw I'd like to have back."
Lewis, who led the Ravens with 17 tackles over this nearly 77-minute game in 13-degree weather, kneeled down to the ground and put his helmet on the rock-solid turf when it was over.
"I've never been a part of a game so crazy in my life," he said.
After he thaws out, the Ravens (12-6), 9½-point underdogs for this one, will get ready for a game at either New England or Houston, who meet Sunday for the other spot in the AFC title game.
This game, the longest since the Browns beat the New York Jets 23-20 in 1987, was an all-timer -- up there with San Diego's 41-38 double-overtime victory over Miami for drama. But Flacco's throw might best be bookended next to one made by Staubach, who famously coined the term "Hail Mary" after his game-winning toss to Drew Pearson beat Minnesota in the 1975 playoffs.
Staubach was near midfield when he threw his.
Flacco was standing around the 20 for his throw, buying time in the pocket when he saw Jones sprinting down the right sideline into double coverage.
Defensive back Tony Carter slowed up and let Jones streak by him. Instead of staying step for step with Jones, safety Rahim Moore tried to leap and knock down the ball. Flacco, who throws the high, deep ball as well as anyone, got it over Moore's head and into Jones' hands.
Justin Tucker's game-winning field goal split the uprights with 13:18 remaining in the second overtime, marking the fourth-longest playoff game. Miami's win against San Diego in the 1971 divisional round still ranks as the longest playoff game.
|22:40||Dolphins 27, Chiefs 24,
Dec. 25, 1971 (AFC Divisional)
|17:54||Texans 20, Oilers 17,
Dec. 23, 1962 (AFL Champ.)
|17:02||Browns 23, Jets 20,
Jan. 3, 1987 (AFC Divisional)
|16:42||Ravens 38, Broncos 35,
Jan. 12, 2013 (AFC Divisional)
|15:43||Raiders 37, Colts 31,
Dec. 24, 1977 (AFC Divisional)
|15:10||Panthers 29, Rams 23,
Jan. 10, 2004 (NFC Divisional)
"I started to step up in the pocket and I kept my eye on the safety's depth at that point," Flacco said. "Just felt I had a shot of maybe getting over him. At that point in the game, you don't have any timeouts. When you've got to go a pretty decent length, you've got to start taking shots at some point. It happened to work out."
Jones caught it and pranced into the end zone, blowing kisses toward the crowd.
"I was kissing to God. I was thanking the Lord," Jones said. "I don't disbelieve in myself. I've been believing in myself since I was born. Never no disbelief.
Moore was on the verge of tears after the game.
"The loss, it was my fault," Moore said. "I got a little too happy. It was pathetic. My fault. Next time, I'll make that play."
The teams were tied at 14 after the first quarter, 21 at halftime, 28 after three quarters and at 35-35 after regulation.
They punted three times to start overtime, the last of them setting up Denver on its 7-yard line.
Manning was moving the Broncos along slowly and steadily. But on second-and-6 from the 38, he rolled to his right, stopped, planted and threw across the field. Graham stepped in front of the receiver for the interception, which he returned 39 yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead. He also had a first-quarter interception.
The temperature at kickoff was 13 degrees, and Manning, wearing an orange-and-gray glove to get more feel in the icy weather, fell to 0-4 lifetime in playoff games when the temperature is 40 or less. He finished 28 of 43 for 290 yards and accounted for all three Denver turnovers -- the two picks and a lost fumble that set up the touchdown that tied the game at 28 late in the third quarter.
Combined, the mistakes nullified a record-setting day for returner Trindon Holliday, who returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown and a kickoff 104 yards for another score. Both were playoff records for longest returns, as was the 248 total return yards he had.
All for naught.
This was, more or less, the unthinkable for the Broncos (13-4), who came in on an 11-game winning streak and the odds-on favorite, at 3-1, to win the Super Bowl, in Manning's hometown of New Orleans, no less.
Instead, this loss goes down with the most devastating in Denver history. Right there with the 30-27 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Jan. 4, 1997 -- another year when Denver looked very much like Super Bowl material.
"Certainly we did a lot of good things this season, but as of right now, it's hard to think about anything besides the loss tonight," Manning said.
Baltimore, meanwhile, will think about its second straight trip to the AFC title game.
Last year, Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal against New England that would have tied that game at the end of regulation.
This year, the Ravens had Tucker, and though the temperature was cold and the ball was hard, coach John Harbaugh showed zero desire to get the ball closer after Ray Rice ran for 11 yards to the Denver 34 near the end of the first overtime.
Tucker was making them from 67 yards in pre-game warmups and was practicing during the break between overtime periods.
"I always feel good when I go out on the field," he said. "Not many people get to do this. This is a heck of a lot of fun."
While he finished the day 1 for 1, Broncos kicker Matt Prater missed his only try, from 52 yards, when he hit the turf, then the ball, on an attempt at the end of the first half.
Broncos coach John Fox will be second-guessed about the decision to go for the long kick, especially considering the way Flacco responded: Throwing and completing three straight passes after the miss for a 58-yard touchdown drive that tied the game at 21 going into halftime.
The touchdown was a 32-yard connection to Torrey Smith, marking the second time Smith beat Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey. Smith also got behind the 12-time Pro Bowler for a 59-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
"The first one -- I lost it," Bailey said. "The second one, he just made a great play. I was in position, he made a good play. That's why he's in the league."
All part of an uncharacteristic day for the Broncos, who routed Baltimore on its home field, 34-17, less than a month ago.
But on this day, the coldest playoff game in Broncos history, these were different teams playing for different stakes.
Flacco finished with 331 yards and three touchdowns. Rice had 131 yards and a score. With Lewis manning the middle of the field, the Broncos offense didn't look like the well-oiled machine it had over the winning streak dating to a 35-24 comeback win over San Diego in October.
The Ravens, meanwhile, looked more like the team that began the season 9-2 instead of the one that finished it losing four of their last five. And boy did they and the Broncos put on a show.
"That football game," Harbaugh said, "did football proud."
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||6.5||4.6|
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||0-0||0-0|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||1||2|
|TD||12:32||Trindon Holliday 90 Yard Punt Return (Matt Prater Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 90 yds, 0:00
|TD||10:39||Torrey Smith 59 Yard Pass From Joe Flacco (Justin Tucker Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 94 yds, 1:43
|TD||9:58||Corey Graham 39 Yard Interception Return (Justin Tucker Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 4 yds, 0:42
|TD||4:09||Brandon Stokley 15 Yard Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 11 plays, 74 yds, 5:47
|TD||7:32||Knowshon Moreno 14 Yard Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 86 yds, 3:35
|TD||0:43||Torrey Smith 32 Yard Pass From Joe Flacco (Justin Tucker Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 58 yds, 0:40
|TD||15:00||Trindon Holliday 104 Yard Kickoff Return (Matt Prater Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 104 yds, 0:00
|TD||0:23||Ray Rice 1 Yard Run (Justin Tucker Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 37 yds, 2:27
|TD||7:18||Demaryius Thomas 17 Yard Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 88 yds, 4:58
|TD||0:41||Jacoby Jones 70 Yard Pass From Joe Flacco (Justin Tucker Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 77 yds, 0:38
|FG||13:24||Justin Tucker 47 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 6 plays, 16 yds, 2:33
From Elias: The Broncos entered the postseason having won 11 straight games, winning each game by 7 or more points. In the Super Bowl era, only two other teams had won 10+ straight games in a single regular season, the 2005 Colts and 1997 49ers. Both the 2012 Broncos and 2005 Colts were led by QB Peyton Manning and unfortunately both teams lost at home in the Divisional Playoffs by 3 points. Of the three teams, only the 49ers won in the Division Playoffs and but they didn't reach the Super Bowl after losing to the Packers in the NFC Championship.[+]
While Joe Flacco found wide receivers for Baltimore's three scoring plays, Flacco was 6-of-9 for 84 yards targeting tight ends, including five first downs. Flacco threw for first downs on 5-of-9 targets to Dennis Pitta or Ed Dickson (55.6 percent), while all other receivers converted 9-of-25 targets (36.0 percent). Denver's defense allowed 50 first downs by tight ends during the regular season, and only the Redskins (60) and Saints (53) allowed more.
NEXT LEVEL: Ray Rice became only the second player this season with 100 rush yards and a touchdown against the Broncos. He is the first player since Stevan Ridley did it Week 5 for the Patriots, Denver's last loss before an 11-game winning streak heading into Saturday. Rice finished with 94 yards and a touchdown on 24 rushes between the tackles, most in a game against the Broncos this year. Denver led the NFL with 3.52 yards per rush allowed inside the tackles during the regular season.
Peyton Manning was intercepted by Corey Graham with 1:01 remaining in the first overtime, Manning's (and Graham's) second of the game and the turnover that eventually led to Justin Tucker's game-winning 47-yard field goal. The interception was Manning's first on a throw outside the pocket this season (30 attempts), and was indicative of the struggles Manning had on shorter throws all game.
Peyton Manning dropped back to pass 22 times in the first half Saturday and wasn't sacked or put under duress on any. In the second half, Manning had 24 dropbacks and was pressured 10 times (41.7 percent). The pressure led to two turnovers, including the interception in overtime that set up the Ravens' game-winning field goal. Manning was never pressured on more than 28.0 percent of his dropbacks in any half this season. Manning was sacked or put under duress 14.2 percent of the time in the regular season, the lowest rate for any quarterback.[+]
Peyton Manning Dropbacks Sacked or Under Duress - AFC Divisional Playoffs
The Ravens trailed by 7 points with 0:41 remaining in regulation, facing a third-and-3 from their 30-yard line when Joe Flacco hit Jacoby Jones for a 70-yard touchdown pass to tie the game and force overtime. According to ESPN Stats and Information's win probability model, Denver had a 97.2 percent chance of winning the game before the Jones touchdown.
Joe Flacco's average target depth was 13.4 yards downfield in the Divisional Playoffs, his highest rate in a game all season. Flacco's 6.6 yard average target depth in Week 15 against the Broncos was his second lowest of the season.
Joe Flacco was 4-of-7 with three touchdowns on throws more than 20 yards downfield in the AFC Divisional Playoffs. The three touchdowns on those throws were Flacco's most in a game in his career and tied the most for any quarterback in a game since the start of 2008. The Broncos had allowed three such touchdowns all season. Torrey Smith had two touchdown receptions on throws more than 20 yards downfield Saturday. Only three receivers had multiple touchdown games on those throws this season.[+]
Broncos Defense on Passes More Than 20 Yards Downfield - This Season
From Elias: Joe Flacco is the 2nd QB to throw 2 TD passes of at least 55 yards in a playoff game. The other was Scott Brunner (Giants) in a 1981 NFC Divisional Playoff game vs the 49ers.
From Elias: Trindon Holliday is the first player with a kickoff return TD and punt return TD in the same game in NFL postseason history
Peyton Manning's TD pass was the 30th of his postseason career and the 4th time he's connected with Brandon Stokley in the playoffs. That's twice as often as Marvin Harrison. Only Reggie Wayne has caught more postseason TD from Manning.[+]
Good omen for the Broncos. Of the 15 previous playoff teams that had a punt return TD, they went 11-4.
ESPN Stats & Information