Friday, June 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Ravens advance to AFC title game with double overtime win over Broncos

DENVER — No matter where his season or his career might end, Joe Flacco will always have The Fling.

Peyton Manning, too, will have to live with a throw he made.

Flacco's 70-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones with 31 seconds left in regulation saved Saturday's AFC division playoff game for Baltimore. Manning's throw across his body in overtime all but lost it for Denver.

On a bitterly cold day at Sports Authority Field — temperature at kickoff was 13 degrees — the Ravens got a 47-yard field goal from Justin Tucker 1:42 into the second overtime to pull off a 38-35 upset of the top-seeded Broncos.

"I've never been a part of a game so crazy in my life," said Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, whose retirement was put off for at least one more game. "It's just awesome."

Lewis, who led the No. 4-seeded Ravens with 17 tackles, kneeled on the ground when it was over. After thawing out, he will get ready for the AFC title game at the Patriots or Texans, who meet today.

"It's very disappointing," Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil said. "We did some good things. We just didn't do enough. Give credit to Baltimore, who was the better team."

The game, the longest since the Browns beat the Jets 23-20 in 1987, was up there with the Chargers' 41-38 double-overtime victory over the Dolphins in 1982 for drama.

But Flacco's throw might best be put in the same category with one by Roger Staubach, who coined the term "Hail Mary" after his winning toss to Drew Pearson lifted the Cowboys past the Vikings in the 1975 playoffs.

"It was one of those miraculous plays," said Ravens cornerback Corey Graham said. "I don't think it'll ever be forgotten."

On third and 3 from the Baltimore 30-yard line with 41 seconds and no timeouts left, Flacco bought time in the pocket and saw Jones sprinting down the right sideline into double coverage. Former FSU cornerback Tony Carter slowed 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 got it over Moore's head and into Jones' hands.

"At that point, you have to start taking shots," said Flacco, 18-of-34 for 331 yards and three touchdowns. "You have to get a little lucky. Had to take a shot, and everyone came through."

Jones caught it and pranced into the end zone, blowing kisses. "I was kissing to God," Jones said. "I was thanking the Lord. 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 combined to punt three times to start overtime, the final one setting up Denver on its 7. On second and 6 from the 38, Manning rolled to his right, stopped and threw across the field to Brandon Stokley.

Graham stepped in front of Stokley for the interception that gave the Ravens the ball at the Broncos 45. It bookended the interception he made in the first quarter and returned 39 yards for a touchdown.

After an incompletion, Ray Rice ran it on four straight plays, gaining 16 yards to the Broncos 29.

In last season's AFC title game, Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal for Baltimore against New England that would have tied it at the end of regulation.

Saturday, though the weather was cold and the ball was hard, coach John Harbaugh showed zero desire to get the ball closer after Rice's runs.

Tucker made kicks from 67 yards pregame and practiced during the break between overtimes. "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."

Said Harbaugh: "That football game did football proud."

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