Suggs' Achilles 'Acting Up,' Felt 'Pretty Bad'
Terrell Suggs returned to the field in Sunday's wild-card win over the Indianapolis Colts after taking a week off in the Ravens' season finale to rest lingering injuries.
But he was quiet in his return, notching just two tackles.
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year said his Achilles tendon was bothering him and made him consider coming out of the game.
"My Achilles started acting up, and it felt pretty bad, but I was like, '[Forget] that,'" Suggs told Yahoo! Sports Michael Silver. "I wasn't going to let a repaired tendon steal our glory. We had work to do. We're trying to win a championship. And we had to make sure we did this for him."
Of course, the "him" Suggs is referring to is Ray Lewis, who will retire at the end of the Ravens' playoff run. Sunday marked the first time both Suggs and Lewis were on the field together. Suggs missed the first six games of the season rehabilitating his tendon, then Lewis was knocked out of the rest of the regular season with a triceps tear in Week 6.
Both players' quick returns to the field were considered minor medical miracles as the severity of each injury could have cost them an entire season.
Everyone Afraid For Ravens – Except For Ravens
It appears everyone is afraid for the Ravens in their divisional round matchup against the Broncos – everyone except the Ravens.
Denver came into M&T Bank Stadium three weeks ago and handed the Ravens a decisive 34-17 loss. But the chance for redemption is what has the Ravens amped.
When asked what would be different this time around, Boldin was succinct and direct in his response.
''I wanted Denver,'' Boldin said. ''Because they beat us. We'll make it different.''
Pundits, and betting lines, are nowhere near as confident.
"Denver? Really? You must be kidding," wrote CBSSports.com's Clark Judge.
"Baltimore doesn't have a chance against these guys. OK, so it has a chance ... but not much of one. Denver not only destroyed the Ravens three weeks ago, it did it in Baltimore where the Ravens lose about as often as it snows in San Francisco. Only this game's in Denver, where Denver hasn't lost since September ... and this game is against an opponent that hasn't lost, period, in over three months."
Vegas doesn't give Baltimore much of a chance either. It has Denver opening as nine-point favorites.
When the Ravens and Broncos played on Dec.16 at M&T Bank Stadium, Peyton Manning's crew was favored by three points. Denver ended up winning by 14.
"And, honestly, it wasn't even that close. Denver was up 31-3 after three quarters. This had been the Broncos' M.O. all season, as they went 10-6 against the spread, including 4-0 to end the year," wrote ESPN's Chad Millman.
Lewis is focused on extending his "last ride" and has already moved on from his historic finish in Baltimore.
"I've already turned my iPad in to get Denver film now. It's onto the next one," he said after Sunday's win. "That's one thing about being in this business so long. I told them, 'We don't have the 24-hour rule now. We have a less-than-12-hour rule,' because we are back to work. We knew who we have next week. Denver is going to be well-rested. We saw them earlier in the year, but now we get them again with all of our guys back. We are really looking forward to it."
Ravens Must Pay Kruger, Or Someone Else Will
In what could be considered his best game of the year, Paul Kruger notched 2.5 sacks, four tackles and five hits on Colts quarterback Andrew Luck Sunday afternoon.
"[Luck will] be seeing No. 99 in his nightmares for weeks," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Cowherd.
And Kruger will be seeing dollar signs pulsing in his eyes, much like cartoon characters do when they see a payday coming. That's because Kruger is in the final year of his rookie contract and has easily had the best season of his career, putting up career highs in tackles (44) and sacks (11.5), which was also a team best.
"[H]e helped himself to a huge payday soon," Cowherd wrote. "After struggling his first three years in the league, he's finally grown into the player the Ravens thought he could be when they picked him in the second round of the 2009 draft out of Utah.
"Now the Ravens will have to pay the man if they want him around next season. And if they don't pay him, another team definitely will."
Kruger was asked about his upcoming free agency after Sunday's game.
"All I want to do is be a Raven, that's all I'm thinking about," he said. "Just going into this week it was so big, I know it sounds cliché, but that's really all that I'm thinking about right now."
Mixed Reviews On Flacco
Quarterback Joe Flacco was credited for putting Sunday's game on his shoulders to pull away from the Colts in the second half and notch a win.
But that wasn't enough to wow experts.
"[T]he Ravens won this game because Joe Flacco and Anquan Boldin took it over," wrote the Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
"Overall, Joe Flacco was OK, but he has to play a lot better to beat Peyton Manning and the Broncos," added colleague Matt Vensel.
Part of the reason Flacco isn't getting rave reviews is because of a quiet first half. He was 5-of-12 for 108 yards and was nearly intercepted on three occasions. His receivers also dropped three passes, including two from Tandon Doss in the end zone.
Flacco found his stride with the sure-handed Boldin in the second half, and the quarterback completed the final two quarters by going 7-of-11 for 174 yards and two touchdowns.
Sports Illustrated's Don Banks, who said Flacco wasn't outstanding, believes the fifth-year quarterback gained some leverage for contract negotiations this offseason.
"His best games tend to always get over-looked, but I think Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, the potential free agent, probably made himself some serious money on Sunday," Banks wrote.
"Flacco is the first quarterback in NFL history to win at least one playoff game in each of his first five seasons in the league, breaking the tie he was in with Cleveland's Otto Graham. And anytime you're mentioned with Graham, you're not in bad company. Flacco has his flaws, but six playoff wins in his first five seasons are nothing to sneeze at. When he's on, he can do some damage against a defense, as the Colts can attest."
Flacco Is A Fan Too, Asked Wife To Record Lewis Dance
By the way, it was fun to listen to Flacco talk about Lewis' final dance out of the tunnel at M&T Bank Stadium.
Turns out, the usually straight-faced quarterback was in awe of the moment too, and the historic implications weren't lost on him. That's why he asked his wife, Dana, to record Lewis' "squirrel" dance from her seat.
Hopefully she captured the moment because Flacco's own teammates made it hard for him to get a glimpse.
"I was in the back, and I kind of realized that all the defensive guys weren't coming through and getting high fives and stuff," Flacco said. "They were all just stopping at the wall and getting their spot. So I started to move up. It's one of the coolest things in football, and we're going to miss it around here.
"I actually told my wife last night, 'Make sure you bring your video camera so that you can sit up in your seat and capture it.' And she said, 'What are you talking about? I'm not going to bring a camera to the stadium and look like an idiot.' I said, 'You got a bag, don't you? Just stick it in there.' And so hopefully she captured that moment and it will be pretty cool. I'll be able to look back on it some day."
Ellerbe Downplays Ankle Injury
Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, who briefly left Sunday's game with an ankle injury, downplayed the severity, according to the Sun. Ellerbe said he'll be ready for the Broncos matchup next week.
"Yeah, I'll be fine," Ellerbe told Aaron Wilson. "It's not that bad. At first, it was hurting. I walked it off."
Ellerbe was tended to on the sideline by doctors and trainers, but he finished the game, notching nine tackles and a quarterback hit.
- "Ed Reed still not considering his future," reports Edward Lee. The past several weeks, Reed has been asked on multiple occasions about his thoughts being an impending unrestricted free agent. He has the same answer every time – which makes sense because a Super Bowl is afoot – that he's not considering it until after the playoffs. [The Baltimore Sun]
- Don't overlook 's contributions Sunday. [CSNBaltimore.com]
- Clark liked Head Coach John Harbaugh's decision to put Lewis on the field for the last offensive snap: "Lewis was the lone setback in the Ravens' victory formation, and nice move, John. Harbaugh put his star linebacker on the field for his last game at home, and he put him in the offensive lineup for the first time in Lewis' career since he was a high-school running back." Harbaugh said of the decision, "That was inspired from above, I guess. That was just an idea from a higher power." [CBSSports.com]
- But Clark didn't like safety Bernard Pollard's personal fouls in the fourth quarter. "First, he commits a personal foul by hammering Reggie Wayne high. One play later, he's called for another personal foul, this time for taunting. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Pollard should be smarter than that, and my guess is that that's what coach John
Harbaugh told him immediately after he pulled Pollard from the game." Actually, that's what Pollard himself said. [CBSSports.com] * @crushboy31: S/O to B-More! On to the next one... I'm so sorry for the personal foul, got caught up in the moment... Love y'all! [Twitter] * Suggs soaks up his final game with Lewis at M&T Bank Stadium with a huge man hug … @untouchablejay4: MADD REAL!!!!!! [Twitter] * Broncos linebacker Von Miller said the trash talk tweet about Flacco was a hoax and he had nothing to do with it. The alleged tweet said, "If like to send out my pre condolences to the Falcco family for what going to happen next Saturday. #B2SB" [Yahoo! Sports] * @bmoreeisenberg: AFC final four is same as last year [Twitter] * @albertbreer: Also, if you didn't learn enough about Chuck Pagano this year, that line of Ravens waiting to see him after the game should tell you plenty. [Twitter] * @teamsizzlefilms: It did my heart good to see Coach Pagano healthy. [Twitter] * @pff [Pro Football Focus]: Credit to Bryant McKinnie. Had played 132 snaps before today, then goes & only gives up 1 hurry (on a wicked spin move) to Dwight Freeney. [Twitter]