Baltimore Ravens overcome Denver Broncos 38-35 in second overtime of divisional playoff

DENVER - Final score after double overtime:

Broncos: 35

Ravens: 38

Despite the cold in Denver, the Broncos and Ravens both took the field with energy. The two teams combined for 28 points in the first eight minutes of their divisional playoff meeting Saturday.

The Baltimore Ravens were the first to put their offense on the field, but couldn't get past midfield on their opening drive. Denver's Trindon Holliday returned the resulting punt for a touchdown, the first scoring strike of the day.

Holliday's 90-yard return was the longest in NFL postseason history.

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco responded quickly, with a pass to wide receiver Torrey Smith. Smith beat Champ Bailey to get into the end zone and tie the game.

Two plays later, the Broncos found themselves trailing when one of Peyton Manning's passes bounced off Eric Decker's pads in traffic and was intercepted by Corey Graham. Graham returned it to the end zone for Baltimore's second touchdown of the day.

The cold didn't seem to slow either quarterback much. Flacco's passer rating in the first half was 133.2 while Manning's was 98.3.

View a slideshow of pregame tailgating

Going primarily through the air, Manning and his receivers in orange put together another scoring drive on their next possession. The game was tied at 14 with a pass caught in the end zone by Brandon Stokley.

The tit for tat ended after that play, with the Ravens and then Broncos unable to score on their next drives.

Midway through the second quarter, however, running back Knowshon Moreno broke the stalemate when he caught Manning's pass and gave Denver the lead. Officials debated an excessive celebration call, but decided not to penalize the Broncos.

Kicker Matt Prater had a chance to score again with just over a minute left in the second quarter, but his foot dragged along the field before contacting the ball and the it fell short of the uprights.

After about 40 seconds of play, Champ Bailey was beaten again by Torrey Smith who caught Flacco's pass for his second touchdown of the day. It tied the game at 21 and the Broncos were unable to score in the 0:36 remaining before halftime.

Just like the score, statistics from the first half were balanced for the Broncos and Ravens. Denver has covered 230 total yards while Baltimore traveled a total of 202. The Ravens got more of their yards through the air, however, with Flacco throwing for 175 compared to Manning's 168.

Flacco also had more yards per attempt than Manning, with 10.3-7.6.

Denver had a slight edge in first downs and time of possession. Denver earned 15 in 17:43 while Baltimore earned nine in 12:17.

 

--- Second Half ---

The second half started much like the first, with Trindon Holliday returning a kickoff over 100 yards to score at the start of the 3rd quarter. It made Holliday the first player in NFL history with a kickoff and punt return for touchdowns in the same postseason game.

The Broncos defense were called for a series of penalties during the Ravens' first possession of the quarter, but were redeemed when Baltimore fumbled a snap at Denver's 43 yard line. It was recovered by linebacker Keith Brooking.

Manning almost returned the favor with a fumble when he was wrapped up by the Baltimore defense. A pair of hands to the face calls against Cary Williams and Terrell Suggs negated the Baltimore recovery to give Manning another first down.

Denver was unable to capitalize on the good luck with a score, but the resulting punt pinned Baltimore back at the 3-yard line. The Ravens were unable to make anything out of that possession.

A controversial call on Peyton Manning gave Baltimore great field position with about 2:30 left in the 3rd quarter. It was ruled on the field that he had fumbled the ball and the officials declined to overturn it as an incomplete pass.

Their first play covered 32 yards brought Flacco into striking distance at the Broncos' 4-yard line. Two runs from Ray Rice brought his team within inches of the goal line and his third run broke in to tie the game at 28.

The Baltimore defense also started the fourth quarter strong, ending the Broncos' first drive within a minute by sacking Peyton Manning. Luckily for the Broncos, the offense wasn't feeling quite as strong and the Ravens also punted the ball away.

This time, Denver was able to capitalize. Manning threw a short pass to Demaryius Thomas, who evaded several tackles, to cross into the end zone with 7:11 remaining in the game.

The Broncos carried that lead inside the two minute warning. With 1:15 remaining, and at 4th down and 7 yards, Denver punted to the Ravens. Baltimore needed only 0:44 of the remaining time to score.

Wide receiver Jacoby Jones caught a pass from Flacco and ran it into the end zone to tie the game at 35. It was the fifth tie of the game.

Manning took a knee as the Broncos decided to take their chances in overtime.

 

--- Overtime ---

The Ravens won the toss and decided to receive the ball first in the overtime.

Champ Bailey was called for a pass interference call near midfield, enabling Baltimore to keep their drive alive. The defense was redeemed, however, when Flacco was sacked by Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller at the 49-yard line and Baltimore was forced to punt the ball away.

The Broncos were also unable to score on their first possession of the overtime, but a good ankle tackle held the Ravens at their own 6-yard line without a return.

A delay of game penalty pushed Baltimore back farther, but Flacco broke his team out with a 30-yard pass to Nicolas Jean-Baptiste. Still, Flacco's team was unable to capitalize on the drive.

The Broncos started to march on their next drive, but Corey Graham cut it short when  he intercepted Peyton Manning as he tried to throw on the move. That came just second before the conclusion of the first overtime.

 

--- Second Overtime ---

The Ravens moved the ball to the center of the field to set up a successful 47-yard field goal attempt.