Sunday, January 6, 2013
Quick Take: Ravens at Broncos
By Jamison Hensley
Five things to know about next Sunday’s Baltimore Ravens-Denver Broncos playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High:
1. Can Ravens end Manning's mastery? Baltimore hasn't beaten Peyton Manning since 2001, when the Ravens were defending Super Bowl champions and Ray Lewis was the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The Ravens have lost nine straight times to Manning, including twice in the playoffs. It was only three weeks ago when the Ravens kept Manning in check (204 yards and one touchdown) and still lost. In their last postseason game against Manning, the Ravens allowed him to complete 68 percent of his passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns.
2. The hot hand: Anquan Boldin has stepped up in his past two games, catching 12 passes for 238 yards and one touchdown. He had 145 yards receiving Sunday, a Ravens' playoff record, and he did it all in the second half. This hot streak came after the Broncos held him without a catch last month. Boldin averaged five catches in Ravens' wins in the regular season and 2.6 receptions in losses. He also has three touchdowns in five playoff games with the Ravens.
3. Road tested: The Broncos are 13-3 in home playoff games, but the Ravens are battle tested when it comes to playing on the road in the playoffs. The Ravens' 7-5 postseason road record is the second-best since the 1970 merger. Since 2008, when John Harbaugh became coach, Baltimore's four road wins in the playoffs are tied for the most in the league with the Jets. Under Harbaugh, the Ravens have won at Miami, Tennessee, New England and Kansas City in the postseason.
4. Stingy in the postseason: The Ravens have been a bend-don't-break defense all season long and they held the Colts to three field goals Sunday. While this defense hasn't been as dominant as ones in years past for the Ravens, it followed a strong trend in the playoffs. The Ravens have held teams to 10 or fewer points in nine playoff games since 2000. No other team has more than four such games during that span. Denver was the second-highest scoring team in the NFL this season, averaging 30.1 points per game.
5. Flacco's turnaround: It's hard to forget Joe Flacco having an interception returned 98 yards for a touchdown by Broncos cornerback Chris Harris. What few remember is that's the last interception thrown by the Ravens quarterback. Flacco has not thrown a pick in 92 straight passes. The Ravens are 6-0 this season when Flacco doesn't throw an interception in a game where he plays four quarters.