Twitter Reacts to Ravens Win over Broncos in Divisional Round

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Twitter Reacts to Ravens Win over Broncos in Divisional Round
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Saturday's playoff matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos featured any number of interesting subplots, as two future first-ballot Hall of Famers met in the cold with a trip to the AFC championship game on the line.

For the visiting Ravens, Saturday's game meant that linebacker Ray Lewis could be taking the field for the last time, which led to quite a bit of looking back on his storied career, including this tidbit from ESPN Stats and Info that points out just how vital Lewis has been to the team's playoff success.

For the Broncos, the chilly weather in the Mile High City presented a potential roadblock to the team's 12th straight victory, for as the NFL's Twitter feed mentioned, 36-year-old quarterback Peyton Manning has had his share of struggles in his career when the thermometer drops.

However, that stat didn't stop the NFL Network's Steve Mariucci from predicting big things from Manning against the Ravens.

Sure enough, the Broncos drew first blood, but Manning wasn't even on the field when it happened, as a 90-yard punt return from Trindon Holliday put Denver up 7-0 and gave Paul Domowitch of The Philadelphia Daily News an opportunity to tweet an interesting tidbit about Holliday.

Holliday's return also made his quarterback a very happy man, according to BuzzFeed Sports:

However, to say that the momentum took a quick swing would be an understatement. On the following drive, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco found wideout Torrey Smith for a long scoring strike, and then a Peyton Manning interception was returned for a touchdown by Corey Graham.

Two touchdowns in the span of 42 seconds gave Baltimore a quick 14-7 lead, and that outburst led to more than a few from fans of both squads.

The excitement didn't stop there in a first quarter that was the equivalent of two prizefighters trading haymakers in the middle of the ring. Manning led the Broncos right back down the field, and his game-tying pass to wide receiver Brandon Stokley had the folks at SportsCenter waxing nostalgic.

The frenetic pace of the game slowed a bit after that, but about midway through the second quarter, Manning found running back Knowshon Moreno from 14 yards out to put Denver ahead 21-14.

That made Manning 12-of-17 for 151 yards and two touchdowns with an interception at that point in the game, and as the Sports Pickle (I don't name 'em, folks) mentioned, the cold certainly didn't seem to be hurting Manning's accuracy any.

A missed Matt Prater field goal gave the Ravens excellent field position just inside the two-minute warning, and the Ravens made the most of it, with Flacco finding Torrey Smith for his second score of the afternoon.

That reception gave Smith two catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, and that led to my requisite tweet from the imaginary mind of John Madden.

The two teams headed to the locker room knotted at 21, and ESPN's Mike Greenberg nicely summed up a fantastic first half that was easily the most exciting 30 minutes of football in the playoffs to this point.

It was something of a surprise that the Ravens were able to hang 21 points on the Broncos in the first half, and as Paul Klee of the Colorado Springs Gazette pointed out, it had been some time since a team had that much offensive success against Denver in a game, much less half of one.

The second half started just as crazily as the first one did.

Trindon Holliday, the man who hasn't lost a game this season and returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown in the first half, wasn't done yet.

The Ravens seemed set to answer that score before a fumbled snap gave the ball back to Denver, and then a costly penalty on Cary Williams both negated a strip-sack and gave the Broncos an automatic first down.

Baltimore escaped that gaffe without further damage, and the team got a huge break when a play that could have been called an incomplete pass was ruled a fumble that the Ravens recovered, a call that Fox Sports' Mike Pereira agreed with.

The Ravens capitalized on the turnover, and after a Ray Rice touchdown run, the third quarter ended just as it began, setting up a great finish to the most exciting game of the postseason to date.

The Broncos opened the fourth quarter pinned deep, but for the first time in the second half, Peyton Manning and the Denver offense got it going, and with the assistance of a couple of Baltimore penalties, the Broncos drove 88 yards before Manning hit Demaryius Thomas with his third touchdown pass of the game.

The Ravens defense looked tired at the end of that 10-play drive, but as "da realist" indicated, Ray Lewis was certainly doing his part to keep the Ravens in the game.

As they had all game long, the Ravens responded, driving into Denver territory with under five minutes to play, but a fourth-down pass to Dennis Pitta fell incomplete, much to the chagrin of Matt Vensel of The Baltimore Sun.

Baltimore forced a punt, and with 1:15 left to play, Joe Flacco and the Ravens took the field with 77 yards to go and no timeouts.

Then, on 3rd-and-3, Flacco found a bafflingly wide-open Jacoby Jones for a 70-yard bomb that shocked the Broncos and members of the media such as Nathan Zegura of CBS Sports alike.

The Broncos, with all their timeouts and 30 seconds on the clock, ate the ball, and just like that, it was on to overtime.

At this point, even I had to admit we were watching something special.

A questionable catch by Anquan Boldin and even more questionable pass-interference call on Champ Bailey moved the Ravens to about midfield, and fans such as Boneth Ahaneku weren't shy at this point about expressing their displeasure with the officiating.

However, a huge sack forced a Ravens punt, and then it was Peyton Manning's turn.

The Broncos were also forced to punt, leaving the Ravens to start their second drive of extra time from inside their 10-yard line. A huge third-down catch from Pitta bought the Ravens some breathing room, but as the first overtime wound under the five-minute mark, the Ravens were forced to punt again.

By this point many folks were starting to get a little punchy, including Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

By this juncture in the game, it appeared that it might come down to who blinked first.

It was Peyton Manning.

Manning's second interception and a tough run by Ray Rice set the Ravens up inside the Denver 35 as double overtime began (no, seriously). From there the Ravens pounded away with Rice to set up rookie Justin Tucker from 47 yards out.

And just like that, the Ravens pulled off a huge upset, Peyton Manning's struggles in both the cold weather and the postseason continued, and Baltimore advanced to the AFC championship with an incredible 38-35 win.

For the Ravens, it means that Ray Lewis will play on:

For the Broncos, an 11-game winning streak comes to an end in crushing fashion, and after his three turnovers led to 17 points to the Ravens, those who doubt Manning's ability to win "the big game" are no doubt feeling vindicated by stats such as the one pointed out by Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post.

Now if you'll excuse me, after that game I need a nap.

 

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