Lewis had 13 tackles in his first game back from a triceps injury and led the Ravens to a big 24-9 win over the Colts on wild card weekend.
The Ravens fed off of the emotion of Lewis’ retirement announcement and even forced two turnovers on the afternoon.
Ray Rice struggled to hold onto the ball, putting the ball on the ground twice and watching Bernard Pierce split carries with him and run for over 100 yards on the day.
Joe Flacco didn’t show off the “elite” status he claims he deserves, but Anquan Boldin caught five passes for 145 yards and a touchdown in the second half to help make Flacco’s day look at least respectable. That type of performance from Flacco won’t fly in Denver next week, though.
Fourth Quarter, 2:04, Ravens 24-9: Patriots fans do not like Bernard Pollard for plenty of reasons — Tom Brady’s knee, Rob Gronkowski’s ankle, you name it — but John Harbaugh might not be his biggest fan right now either.
The Ravens may be up 15 points, but Pollard gave the Colts 30 free yards on that drive with a pair of personal fouls. Harbaugh is a coach that seeks perfection from his players, and no matter the score, those sorts of penalties aren’t acceptable.
They’ll definitely have a nice little chat before next weekends trip to Denver.
Fourth Quarter, 4:44, Ravens 24-9: That’s going to be all she wrote, folks.
Luck made a valiant effort, leading the Colts down the field, but in the end he just came up short on that drive.
The Indianapolis quarterback threw an interception to all but end the Colts’ hopes of a comeback, but it wasn’t really his fault, and he had no choice but to make the throw. Dwyane Allen just slipped a bit on his route and it gave the Ravens the ball and good field position.
Fourth Quarter, 9:14, Ravens 24-9: Anquan Boldin came out of the locker room at halftime and has just made this second half his.
Boldin has five catches for 145 yards in the second half and the most important one was that massive touchdown grab.
You want to talk about strength? This performance might be one of the most powerful from a receiver that I’ve ever seen.
Boldin’s biggest contribution is to Joe Flacco, though, by hiding the quarterback’s deficiencies with his incredible play. What a game … talk about stepping up when it counts.
Fourth Quarter, 11:44, Ravens 17-9: The football gods appeared to be shining down on Luck, giving the Colts a gift fumble, but the most unlikely culprit just cost Indy some points.
Viniatieri, after making all three field goal attempts to start the day, just missed his shortest kick of the day and keeps the Ravens’ lead at eight.
Now, the Colts might need even more heroics from Luck late in the fourth if they hope to tie this game up.
Fourth Quarter, 13:15, Ravens 17-9: Ray Rice, what’s happening?
Rice had just one lost fumble all through the regular season, and he already has two today. He’s made some big plays on offense for the Ravens today, but those fumbles are far more important than any run or catch he’s made today.
We might see a hefty dose of Bernard Pierce going forward.
Third Quarter, 0:26, Ravens 17-6: Even amid all the rookie talk, Andrew Luck is awfully impressive.
The way he battled his way down the field on that drive is exactly what separates him from other rookies.
He’s made his share of rookie mistakes on the day, but his composure under pressure and ability to thread the ball into tight coverage shows just how good this kid is already.
Third Quarter, 8:26, Ravens 17-6: The Ravens just took a strong defensive stand and turned it into points on the board.
Flacco actually made a few nice throws, including a great toss over the top for 49 yards to Boldin, who made an incredible catch on the play as well.
That sort of accuracy, especially on throws down the field, is exactly what the Ravens need to defeat teams in the playoffs. The question remains whether Flacco can consistently hit on throws like that.
Third Quarter, 10:21, Ravens 10-6: Luck is a big boy, which is why he’s able to escape from the grasp of defenders so frequently. But he can’t escape untouched defenders flying into his face every play.
The Ravens’ pass rush got to Luck over and over on that drive and he has to be feeling the effects of some big hits.
Paul Kruger is leading the rush with 2 1/2 sacks already today, and if this keeps up it’s only a matter of time before they force Luck into a big error.
Third Quarter, 12:28, Ravens 10-6: Joe Flacco hasn’t looked any better to start the second half, but his receivers continue to bail him out.
Anquan Boldin made a great play to fight off a defensive back, using his strength and size to out-leap the defender and haul in a 50-yard pass to get Baltimore in better field position.
The drive did stall in the end, but Flacco won’t keep catching these breaks and needs to start threading the ball into his receivers a little more consistency. He just looks rushed constantly in the pocket, which is keeping the Ravens from establishing a consistent attack through the air.
Halftime, Ravens 10-6: It was a weird way to end the first half, but the Colts were able to get some points on the board before heading to the locker room.
Adam Viniatieri is as clutch as they come in terms of kickers, and that 52-yard field goal marks Viniatieri’s longest postseason kick and makes him 21 of 22 with the Colts in the playoffs.
The kickers have been solid, but neither quarterback has played very well on the afternoon. Luck is 13 for 23 for 143 yards and Flacco has completed 5-of-12 for 108 yards, but both neither have looked too comfortable in the pocket and have been getting away with some terrible decisions.
Ray Rice has provided the spark on offense for the Ravens, running off with a 47-yard catch to get the Ravens in place for a touchdown and the lead.
Second Quarter, 0:56, Ravens 10-3: Vonta Leach might get credit on that touchdown, but Ray Rice was responsible for that score.
Rice got a little breather after his fumble early in the first quarter, but clearly he responded in the moment and has the Ravens on top 10-3.
The Colts’ run defense had plenty of holes coming into this one — and they’ve looked good so far, actually — but they need to keep track of Rice in the passing game too. Something they clearly didn’t do there.
Second Quarter, 2:28, 3-3: There’s really no more clutch kicker than Adam Viniatieri, is there?
The Colts just put together a nice, long drive, and Viniatieri capped it off with a 47-yard field goal.
Indy would’ve much rather gotten into the end zone and take the lead, but the ability to rely on a consistent leg like Viniateri’s is a great one to have in defensive battles like this.
Second Quarter, 8:09, Ravens 3-0: The Colts have gotten good pressure on Flacco so far, and he hasn’t responded well at all.
Luck has looked pretty unsteady on the whole today, but Flacco’s looked just as uneasy inside the pocket.
Robert Mathis and some of the Colts’ pass rushers have gotten good jumps on the snap, which might mean Flacco needs to use more cadences and change up the snap count. Otherwise, he’s going to make a big mistakes, it’s just a matter of time.
Second Quarter, 11:21, Ravens 3-0: The Ravens drove back down into the red zone, and this time they got points out of it.
Bernard Pierce played a big part in that drive, taking the role as primary tailback from Rice and busting out for a few big runs to steady the offense.
It will be interesting to follow the playing time of both backs through the rest of the game. Rice’s fumble was costly on the Ravens’ first drive, but will Pierce see even more action because of that gaffe?
End First Quarter, 0-0: All the emotion and enthusiasm talked about heading into this game hasn’t shown out on the field.
Luck and Flacco have both made some questionable decisions, but neither has cost his team just yet.
Aside from the strong defensive play from both teams, Vick Ballard has been a pleasant surprise for the Colts’ offense and the only thing making this unit function.
Someone needs to step up on offense soon, though, otherwise we could still be talking about a scoreless game by halftime.
First Quarter, 4:36, 0-0: Talk about the good, the bad and the ugly … that sounds like Andrew Luck’s day so far.
Luck is extremely talented and it’s on full display today, but sometimes he just makes unconscionable decisions.
Luck did his best Ben Roethlisberger impersonation, escaping some pressure on the way to a first down. Then a few plays later, Luck escaped a defender’s grasp again, but nearly threw a costly interception to Ed Reed.
Even worse, Luck allowed the Ravens to knock the ball out of his hands, giving it right back to Baltimore. Luck has looked like a seasoned veteran at times during this game, but he’s letting his rookie tendencies show a little too often. You’re not going to beat the Ravens with mistakes like that.
First Quarter, 11:32, 0-0: The emotion that Ray Lewis instilled in the Baltimore crowd was powerful, but the momentum caused by a turnover is just as powerful.
Ray Rice is supposed to be something of an X-factor for the Ravens today, and mistakes like the fumble he just coughed up are exactly what the Ravens can’t afford from him.
Impressive stand from the Colts’ defense, though, especially after such a strong start by Joe Flacco and the passing attack.
First Quarter, 13:12, 0-0: Ray Lewis is one of the best motivators in sports, period.
With retirement on the horizon for the all-world linebacker, the Ravens faithful were on their feet and all sorts of hyped for Lewis’ final run out of the tunnel at M&T Bank Stadium.
The excitement of the crowd clearly helped, too, as the Ravens’ defense stood tall against Luck and the Colts to kick this game off and Jacoby Jones just busted off a 32-yard punt return for good field position.
All of the enthusiasm could be just what the Ravens need to overwhelm Indy today.
12:45 p.m.: The Colts ran off the inspiration of Chuck Pagano for much of this season. Now, Pagano’s back on the sidelines, but his interim replacement Bruce Arians won’t be for Indy’s biggest game of the year.
Arians, who went 9-3 filling in as the Colts’ head coach this season, was taken to the hospital with flu-like symptoms again (also happened earlier this week) on Sunday morning, according to Kimberly Jones of NFL.com, and won’t be running the offense in Baltimore.
Without Arians, Andrew Luck could face some adjustment issues against a fierce Ravens defense. The offense won’t change at all, but the play-calling could be a little different and the communication between quarterback and the sideline is something to keep a keen eye on.
9 a.m. ET: The higher seeds prevailed Saturday, and the Ravens are hoping for the same outcome Sunday.
To do so, they’ll start with the return of a team legend. Ray Lewis’ retirement wasn’t much of a shock, as the 37-year-old linebacker is on his last legs in the NFL, but the timing couldn’t be better for a team in need of some inspiration. Baltimore is just 5-5 during its time without Lewis and is in dire need of some help on defense.
Lewis, one of the most passionate players and best defenders in football, should provide some help on defense and provide a much-needed spark to this lagging group.
Speaking of motivation, the Colts have been playing with emotion all season given head coach Chuck Pagano’s battle with leukemia. Now, the coach is back, and Indy is on something of a run. The Colts have won five of their last six, and quarterback Andrew Luck has put together a great end to his rookie season.
The Ravens are clearly the more experienced team, making it within moments of a victory in the AFC Championship Game last year, but the Colts also have plenty of talent and some motivation of their own.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m., and the winner will travel to Denver for a meeting with Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Keep it locked right here for all your news, notes and analysis on everything on the Colts and Ravens.
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