The Baltimore Ravens defeated the Denver Broncos, 38-35, in a double-overtime thriller to advance to the AFC Championship Game against the Houston Texans or the New England Patriots. Denver seemed to have the game in hand as the clock wound down, but a last-minute touchdown bomb from Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones sent the game into overtime. Late in the first overtime, Peyton Manning threw an crucial interception to set up the Ravens' Justin Tucker for a game-winning 47-yard field goal.
Both teams entered their locker rooms at the end of the first half with the score tied at 21. The Broncos struck first when Trindon Holliday ran a Sam Koch punt back for a touchdown after the Ravens were stopped on the opening drive. The Ravens then struck back when Joe Flacco found Torrey Smith on a long bomb for a touchdown, tying the score at seven. The Ravens then took a 14-7 lead when Corey Graham intercepted Manning and ran the ball back for a touchdown.
The Broncos then scored twice in a row on two Manning passes, one to Brandon Stokley and one to running back Knowshon Moreno, taking a 21-14 lead. However, the Ravens tied it up right before halftime with another touchdown pass to Smith.
To open the second half, Holliday ran the opening kickoff back for another score, making him the only player in NFL playoff history to score on a punt and kickoff return in the same game, giving the Broncos a 28-21 lead. After a Manning fumble, the Ravens answered with a Ray Rice touchdown, tying the score once again at 28.
The Broncos took the lead in the fourth quarter when Manning hit Demaryius Thomas for a 17-yard touchdown pass, giving the Broncos a 35-28 lead over the Ravens. At that point, the Broncos defense took over, stopping the Ravens offense from being able to score again. The Ravens turned the ball over on downs and allowed the Broncos to run the clock down to 1:09, and at that point it seemed as if it would be too late. I said seemed, because it wasn't too late at all. With less than a a minute left in the game, Flacco tossed a deep pass to Jacoby Jones. Jones caught the ball -- his only catch in regulation play -- and ran it in for a 70-yard touchdown, tying the game with just 31 seconds on the clock and ultimately sending the contest into overtime.
The Ravens won the toss and elected to receive first in overtime, but it gave them no advantage as both teams played a defensive chess match and failed to score in the period. Eventually, one team made a mistake, and it wasn't made by a player that you would have expected. Peyton Manning, rolling right as he attempted to avoid pressure, threw the ball back across his body to the middle of the field where it was once again intercepted by Corey Graham.
The win will give future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis at least one more game in the NFL as he has announced his retirement prior to the beginning of the playoffs, and the Ravens will advance to the AFC Championship game where they will either travel to Foxborough or Houston to play the Texans or Patriots.
Box-Score Hero: Corey Graham picked off Peyton Manning twice on Saturday. He took one of those interceptions back for a touchdown and the other set up the Ravens for the game-winning drive.
Injury Report: Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno left the game with a knee injury. Not only is he the team's most talented runner after the loss of Willis McGahee, but he is also the team's best pass-blocking back. It's currently unclear the extent of the injury. Of course, Denver's season is now over so he'll have the entire offseason to recover.
Did They Cover?: The Broncos were favored to win by 9.5 points, according to OddsShark, and they obviously didn't cover due to the fact that they lost in overtime.
Next: The Ravens will play in the AFC Championship game on the road at the winner of the game between the Houston Texans and New England Patriots being played Sunday in Foxborough.