NFL: Ravens top Colts 24-9 in wild-card game
Baltimore • The Baltimore Ravens want one long final ride for Ray Lewis. Having disposed of Andrew Luck and the Colts, they now face a more imposing challenge.
Next up, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
Anquan Boldin set a franchise record with 145 yards receiving, including the clinching touchdown in the Ravens' 24-9 victory Sunday over Indianapolis in an AFC wild-card game. The victory delays star linebacker Lewis' retirement for at least another week as Baltimore (11-6) heads to top-seeded Denver (13-3) next Saturday.
The Broncos beat the Ravens 34-17 three weeks ago.
"I wanted Denver," Boldin said, "because they beat us.
"We'll make it different."
Lewis, who made 13 tackles Sunday, ended his last home game in Baltimore at fullback, of all things, for the final kneel-down. He then went into a short version of his trademark dance before being mobbed by teammates.
He followed with a victory lap, his right arm, covered by a brace, held high in salute to the fans after playing for the first time since tearing his right triceps on Oct. 14 against Dallas.
"My only focus was to come in and get my team a win. Nothing else was planned," the 37-year-old Lewis said. "It's one of those things, when you recap it all and try to say what is one of your greatest moments.
"I knew how it started but I never knew how it would end here in Baltimore. To go the way it did today, I wouldn't change nothing."
The loss ended the Colts' turnaround season in which they went from 2-14 to the playoffs in coach Chuck Pagano's first year in Indianapolis (11-6). Pagano missed 12 weeks while undergoing treatment for leukemia and returned last week.
"The foundation is set, and we said we were going to build one on rock and not on sand," Pagano said. "You weather storms like this and you learn from times like this."
Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who went 9-3 as interim coach, was absent Sunday after being hospitalized with an undisclosed illness. Pagano said Arians "is fine" and would stay overnight for observation before rejoining the Colts on Monday.
Quarterback coach Clyde Christensen called the plays, but Baltimore's suddenly revitalized defense inspired by Lewis' pending retirement, no doubt never let standout rookie QB Luck get comfortable.
"It's great making the playoffs, but you can't make mistakes and expect to beat a playoff team like we did," said Luck, who was sacked three times, with former University of Utah player Paul Kruger getting 2Â½ of those. "We'll have to look back at those and hopefully fix them."
Sunday's victory enhanced the Ravens' success rate in opening playoff games. Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco now has won at least one postseason game in all five of his pro seasons, the only quarterback to do it in the Super Bowl era.
His main target Sunday was Boldin, who had receptions of 50 and 46 yards, plus his 18-yard TD on a floater from Flacco in the corner of the end zone with 9:14 to go.
Flacco also connected with former BYU tight end Dennis Pitta for a 20-yard TD, and rookie Justin Tucker made a 23-yard field goal.
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