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01/13/2013 12:16 AM EST
Ravens top Broncos in double OT 38-35
BALTIMORE 38, DENVER 35

By EDDIE PELLS
AP National Writer

DENVER (AP) -- Welcome to NFL immortality, Joe Flacco.



Somewhere up there in the all-time playoff archives near the
"Hail Mary" by Staubach and the "Immaculate Reception" by Franco
now lives the "Flacco Fling" by the Baltimore Ravens
quarterback.



One big throw down the sideline, 70 make-or-break yards on a
wing and a prayer - a high, arcing touchdown pass that soared
through the icy air, flew over two defenders, landed in the
hands of Jacoby Jones, saved the game for Baltimore and kept Ray
Lewis' 17-year career going at least one more week.



The record will show Justin Tucker kicked a 47-yard field goal
1:42 into the second overtime Saturday to give the Ravens a
38-35 victory over Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. But it
was so much more. It was a crazy, back-and-forth instant classic
of an AFC divisional playoff game. The highlight? That would be
Flacco's game-tying touchdown to Jones on third-and-3 from the
30 with 31 seconds left in regulation and no timeouts.



"At that point," Flacco said, "you have to start taking shots.
You have to get a little lucky."



And while Flacco gets to celebrate that throw, Manning will have
a long offseason to think about a really bad one.



On Denver's second possession of overtime, he stopped and threw
across his body to the middle of the field and into the arms of
Ravens cornerback Corey Graham at Denver's 45. Baltimore (12-6)
ran five plays and gained 16 yards before Tucker sailed his
winning kick inside the right upright.



The Manning throw, intended for Brandon Stokley, was one that
quarterbacks from junior high to the pros are advised not to
make. It's a throw that unraveled all the good Manning has
accomplished during this, his comeback season from neck surgery
during which he threw for 37 touchdowns and led the Broncos
(13-4) to top seeding in the AFC.



"Yeah, bad throw," Manning said. "Probably the decision wasn't
great either. I thought I had an opening, and I didn't get
enough on it, and I was trying to make a play and certainly a
throw I'd like to have back."



Lewis, who led the Ravens with 17 tackles over this nearly
77-minute game in 13-degree weather, kneeled down to the ground
and put his helmet on the rock-solid turf when it was over.



"I've never been a part of a game so crazy in my life," he said.



After he thaws out, the Ravens, 9 1/2-point underdogs for this
one, will get ready for a game at either New England or Houston,
who meet Sunday for the other spot in the AFC title game.



This game, the longest since the Browns beat the New York Jets
23-20 in 1987, was an all-timer - up there with San Diego's
41-38 double-overtime victory over Miami when it comes to drama,
momentum shifts and the unexpected. But Flacco's throw might
best be bookended next to one made by Dallas quarterback Roger
Staubach, who famously brought the term "Hail Mary" to football
after his game-winning toss to Drew Pearson beat Minnesota in
the 1975 playoffs.



Staubach was near midfield when he threw his.



Flacco, who finished with 331 yards and three scores, was
standing at the 25 for his throw, buying time in the pocket when
he saw Jones sprinting down the right sideline into double
coverage.



Defensive back Tony Carter slowed up 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, who throws
the high, deep ball as well as anyone, got it over Moore's head
and into Jones' hands.



"I started to step up in the pocket and I kept my eye on the
safety's depth at that point," Flacco said. "Just felt I had a
shot of maybe getting over him. At that point in the game, you
don't have any timeouts, when you've got to go a pretty decent
length you've got to start taking shots at some point. It
happened to work out."



Jones caught it and pranced into the end zone, blowing kisses
toward the crowd.



"I was kissing to God. I was thanking the Lord," Jones said. "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 were tied at 14 after the first quarter, 21 at
halftime, 28 after three quarters and at 35-35 after regulation.



They punted three times to start overtime, the last of them
setting up Denver on its 7-yard line.



Manning was moving the Broncos along slowly and steadily. But on
second-and-6 from the 38, he rolled to his right, stopped,
planted and threw across the field toward Stokley at the right
hash mark. Graham stepped in front of the receiver for the
interception. The Ravens D-back also had a first-quarter
interception, which he returned 39 yards for a touchdown and a
14-7 lead.



On many days, the two interceptions would have made him the star
of the game. On this day - he was just another player making big
plays for Baltimore. Even he was amazed at the Flacco-Jones
touchdown.



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



The wind chill at kickoff was 2 degrees, and Manning, wearing an
orange-and-gray glove to get more feel in the icy weather, fell
to 0-4 lifetime in playoff games when the temperature is 40 or
less. He finished 28 for 43 for 290 yards and accounted for all
three Denver turnovers - the two picks and a lost fumble that
set up the touchdown that tied the game at 28 late in the third
quarter.



Combined, the mistakes nullified a record-setting day for
returner Trindon Holliday, who returned a punt 90 yards for a
touchdown and a kickoff 104 yards for another score. Both were
playoff records for longest returns, as was the 248 total return
yards he had.



This was, more or less, the unthinkable for the Broncos, who
came in on an 11-game winning streak and the odds-on favorite,
at 3-1, to win the Super Bowl - in Manning's hometown of New
Orleans, no less.



Instead, this loss goes down with the most devastating in Denver
history. Right there with the 30-27 loss to the Jacksonville
Jaguars on Jan. 4, 1997 - another year when Denver looked very
much like Super Bowl material.



"Certainly we did a lot of good things this season, but as of
right now, it's hard to think about anything besides the loss
tonight," Manning said.



Baltimore, meanwhile, will get ready for its second straight
trip to the AFC title game.



Last year, Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal against New
England that would have tied that game at the end of regulation.



This year, the Ravens had Tucker, and though the temperature was
cold and the ball was hard, coach John Harbaugh showed zero
desire to get the ball closer after Ray Rice ran for 11 yards to
the Denver 34 near the end of the first overtime.



Tucker was making them from 67 yards in pre-game warmups and was
practicing during the break between overtime periods.



"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."



While he finished the day 1 for 1, Broncos kicker Matt Prater
missed his only try, from 52 yards, when he hit the turf, then
the ball, on an attempt at the end of the first half.



Broncos coach John Fox will be second-guessed about the decision
to go for the long kick, especially considering the way Flacco
responded: Throwing and completing three straight passes after
the miss for a 58-yard touchdown drive that tied the game at 21
going into halftime.



The touchdown was a 32-yard connection to Torrey Smith, marking
the second time Smith beat Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey.
Smith also got behind the 12-time Pro Bowler for a 59-yard
touchdown in the first quarter.



"The first one - I lost it," Bailey said. "The second one, he
just made a great play. I was in position, he made a good play.
That's why he's in the league."



All part of an uncharacteristic day for the Broncos, who routed
Baltimore on its home field, 34-17, less than a month ago.



But on this day, the coldest playoff game in Broncos history,
these were different teams playing for different stakes.



Flacco improved to 7-4 in playoff game. Rice finished with 131
yards and a score. With Lewis manning the middle of the field,
the Broncos offense didn't look like the well-oiled machine it
had over a winning streak dating to a 35-24 comeback win over
San Diego in October.



The Ravens, meanwhile, looked more like the team that began the
season 9-2 instead of the one that finished it losing four of
their last five. And boy did they and the Broncos put on a show.



"Thanks for bearing witness to one of the greatest football
games you're ever going to see," Harbaugh said. "That football
game did football proud."



Notes: The Broncos fell to 13-4 at home lifetime in the
playoffs. ... Manning tied Dan Marino for fourth most touchdowns
in postseason history. He also matched Brett Favre for most
career playoff losses, with 11. ... Lewis' 17 tackles were a
season high. ... Anquan Boldin, shut out in the first meeting
between the teams, had six catches for 71 yards. ... Broncos RB
Knowshon Moreno left early in the second half with an injured
right knee.



---



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