The Ravens defenders crowded to the front of the pregame introductions to watch their leader,
They pushed and shoved each other to get the best view.
After that emotional jolt, they pushed and shoved the Colts around for the next 60 minutes.
Baltimore’s inspired defense didn’t allow Indianapolis to reach the end zone once in Sunday’s wild-card playoff game, leading the Ravens to a 24-9 victory in Lewis’ final home game.
Combine that with big plays from the offense – specifically from wide receiver
“It was unbelievable just to be out there,” defensive end Art Jones said.
“You can call me a groupie or whatever, I was just really enjoying being out there. I turned around and just stared at Ray a few times. Why wouldn’t you want to give it up for a guy who gave so much to this program? I went out there and played so hard I thought I was going to die.”
Now the Ravens have a date with the Denver Broncos next Saturday at 4:30 p.m. The Broncos blew the Ravens out by 17 points at M&T Bank Stadium just three weeks ago.
Lewis wasn’t yet back for that game, but he will be on Saturday.
“We saw them earlier in the year, but now we get them again with all our guys back,” Lewis said. “We are really looking forward to it.”
Lewis led the Ravens with 13 tackles despite missing 10 games and wearing a huge brace to protect his injured triceps.
The Baltimore defense bent on a number of occasions and allowed 419 yards of total offense, but it protected its end zone and didn’t yield big plays to an explosive Colts offense led by rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, who finished 28-of-54 for 288 yards and an interception.
“It was incredible, man,” Williams said. “I just feel so blessed to share in this.”
The Ravens offense committed two turnovers via fumbles by the usually sure-handed
Boldin led the charge with a postseason Ravens record five catches for 145 yards and one touchdown – all of which came in the second half after Baltimore clung to just a 10-6 lead at halftime.
“I just wanted to go out and give everything,” Boldin said. “I think everyone in the locker room wanted to make sure this wasn’t our last game.”
The first half was defined by mistakes and missed opportunities by both sides.
The Ravens marched down the field on their first drive, but Rice fumbled inside the Colts’ 15-yard line when he was dancing and looking for extra room to churn out more yardage. Rice has now coughed up the ball in the playoffs in each of the past four years.
“I’ll take both of [those fumbles] on the chin,” Rice said. “I saved my worst game for today. You see how my teammates [stepped up].”
The Colts responded with a drive that lasted more than seven minutes, but that ended when Kruger swatted the ball out of Luck’s hands. Defensive end
Baltimore mounted a 10-play drive in the first quarter and had first-and-goal, but was only able to muster a 23-yard field goal by
Lewis should have had an easy interception on the next series, as a tipped pass by
“I’ll never live that one down,” Lewis said with a laugh, then jokingly blamed it on his arm brace.
The Colts later managed a 47-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri, but the Ravens executed a perfect two-minute drive in response.
Flacco found Rice weaving his way through Colts defenders on a screen, and the running back took it 47 yards to the Colts 2-yard line. Fullback
The Colts answered with a 25-yard pass to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton that allowed Vinatieri to squeak a career postseason-long, 52-yard field goal through the right uprights as time expired on the first half.
On the Ravens’ second drive of the second half, Flacco dropped a bomb just over Boldin’s shoulder for a gain of 46 yards. Flacco then flipped a pass to tight end
Luck and the Colts cobbled much of their 11-win season via comebacks, and they didn’t fold after Baltimore took an 11-point lead. Luck and wide receiver Reggie Wayne led a 15-play drive, but they had to settle for a 26-yard field goal to cut Baltimore’s lead to 17-9.
Baltimore’s offense was on the move again, but Rice coughed up the ball for a second time. He was exploding into the secondary when safety Joe Lefeged punched the ball out.
The Colts immediately went on the move with a 24-yard carry by Vick Ballard that put them in field-goal range. Baltimore’s defense stood up and escaped unharmed when the usually clutch Vinatieri pushed his kick wide right from 40 yards out with 11:44 remaining.
Baltimore’s offense continued its hot play, and this time didn’t shoot itself in the foot. Flacco lofted an 18-yard pass to the end zone for Boldin, who leapt over cornerback Darius Butler to haul in the pass and account for the final score.
Flacco finished 12-of-23 for 283 yards and two touchdowns, posting a quarterback rating of 125.6. He extended his streak to being the only quarterback in NFL history to win at least one playoff game in his first five years.
“The bottom line is we haven’t won it all, and that’s been our goal, and that is our goal this year,” Flacco said. “Right now, we’re just focused on going up to Denver.”