Posted January 13, 2013

First Down/Fourth Down: Rahim Moore helps Joe Flacco get it done

Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, First Down/Fourth Down, NFL Playoffs
Jacoby Jones' 70-yard touchdown came with 31 seconds left and the Ravens seemingly out of hope. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

Jacoby Jones’ 70-yard touchdown came with 38 seconds left and the Ravens seemingly out of hope. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

The Baltimore Ravens were down and seemingly out Saturday, needing 70 yards and a touchdown in the closing seconds to avoid a disappointing loss in Denver.

And then, inexplicably, the Broncos’ pass coverage broke down completely.

Joe Flacco, with the clock running and his team out of timeouts, heaved one up long to Jacoby Jones, who to that point had not made a single catch. On this play, though, Jones somehow managed to slip behind cornerback Chris Harris and, even more amazingly, deep safety Rahim Moore.

Moore leaped up at the last moment, only to watch the ball slip over his outstretched fingers and into Jones’ arms. The Baltimore receiver then waltzed into the end zone for a jaw-dropping tying touchdown.

It was the last moment of embarrassment for a Denver secondary that absolutely bombed in the team’s 38-35 double overtime loss.

GALLERY: NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

Many of the issues were Champ Bailey’s. The veteran cornerback endured an absolute nightmare of an afternoon, as he was burned by Torrey Smith repeatedly. Smith caught a pair of long touchdowns in the first half and nearly had a third, if not for a Flacco overthrow.

The Broncos regrouped in the second half, limiting Flacco’s big plays and holding Baltimore’s offense mostly in check. That is, until Harris and Moore gaffed at the worst possible moment.

More of the best and worst from Baltimore’s thrilling win.

First Down: Joe Flacco, Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones.

If there were any lingering questions about Flacco’s future as the Ravens’ quarterback, Saturday put them to rest. The pending free agent threw for 331 yards and three touchdowns in the Ravens’ stunning upset.

More importantly, he also avoided the killer mistake that has haunted him so often in the past — and that Peyton Manning made instead by firing an interception in OT.

Jones was the hero on the game-tying grab, but it was Smith that helped put Baltimore in position for that play in the first place. He demolished Bailey, in a matchup that Bailey felt confident he could win. Flacco kept going back to his young receiver too, at least through the first half. The resulting connections helped Baltimore keep pace with the favored Broncos.

Fourth Down: Jack Del Rio and John Fox.

Denver won 11 in a row to close the year, and it was far from a solo show by Manning. The Broncos’ defense finished fourth in points against and second in yardage.

Saturday, however, defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio had his lunch handed to him.

Del Rio failed to figure out any way to slow the Baltimore offense, either through the air or on the ground. The Ravens racked up 479 yards of total offense and, once they figured out how to start converting third downs, proved almost unstoppable.

The Broncos made no adjustments to the Smith-Bailey matchup in the first half, and never figured out how to get to Flacco (Denver recorded just one sack). Save for Moore’s awful coverage late, that effort still would have been enough to get through to the conference title game, but the Broncos’ D was living on the edge all day.

And as for Fox … taking a knee to go to overtime, when you have Peyton Manning, 30 seconds and two timeouts? A recipe for an upset.

First Down: Trindon Holliday.

Holliday did what he could to carry the Broncos through this game. He started the scoring with a 90-yard punt return for a score, then took the second half’s opening kickoff back 104 yards to paydirt — in the process, becoming the first player in NFL history with two TD returns in one playoff game.

Even though the Ravens put the clamps on Holliday late, his performance deserves to be remembered.

Fourth Down: Ed Reed.

If the Ravens are to continue this impressive run through the AFC playoffs, they likely will need their star safety to turn in a much stronger performance next week. Reed finished with just three tackles Sunday and disappeared for huge stretches of the game.

His worst whiff came on Demaryius Thomas’ touchdown, which looked like a possible game-winner. Reed had the only real shot at Thomas on an inside screen, but came up empty.

Reed also fielded a punt at his own 5 in overtime and was tackled immediately. Flacco’s clutch play helped bail him out for that mistake.

First Down: Terrell Suggs.

On the flip side of things for Baltimore’s defense was Suggs. Still playing with that painful torn biceps, Suggs nevertheless took the fight to Denver All-Pro Ryan Clady on Sunday. Suggs finished with eight tackles and two impressive sacks of Manning, plus he broke up a pass and forced a fumble (though the latter was negated by two Baltimore penalties, including one against Suggs).

Suggs’ longtime teammate Ray Lewis also kept his career alive, leading Baltimore with a whopping 17 tackles on Saturday.

Fourth Down: The NFL’s decision to use “All-Star crews” to officiate the playoffs.

This is the second week in a row that an officiating crew has been in the negative column. And part of the problem is that the NFL has opted to split up the crews it used in the regular season in favor of “All-Star” groups — crews formed by placing all the highest-rated officials together.

In theory, that should work. In practice, it has been a mess.

Referee Bill Vinovich and his mix-and-match crew turned in an ugly showing Sunday. There were 18 penalties in this game, and both a few of the calls made and some non-calls were hard to figure. Worse yet, on the play where Suggs forced a fumble by Manning, the crew needed several minutes to sort out a pair of fouls against Baltimore.

All in all, it was an uneven, inconsistent showing by the officials.

First Down: Baltimore’s offensive line.

Denver led the league in sacks during the regular season with 52, and there may not be a more disruptive pass rusher in the NFL than Von Miller. Baltimore still managed to almost totally negate all of the Broncos’ impact up front Saturday.

The only sack Flacco took all afternoon came in overtime, when he held the ball a couple of beats too long on a 3rd-and-2. Even then, he had time to get rid of the football.

Oh, and Ray Rice’s 131-yard day on the ground was no fluke.

Fourth Down: Peyton Manning.

And we close with the headliner …

Manning fired three touchdown passes, two of them (one to Brandon Stokley an one to Knowshon Moreno) absolutely picturesque. But there is no getting around that interception in overtime, when Manning made the unacceptable mistake of throwing late back across his body.

Corey Graham, who deserves a special “First Down” nod, picked Manning off there to set up Justin Tucker’s game-winning field goal. Graham earlier took an interception back for six, to give Baltimore an early 14-7 lead.

The loss, in a biting chill in Denver, dropped Manning to 0-4 in playoff games played in temperatures of 40 degrees or less. He’s also just 9-11 overall in the postseason and has not recorded a playoff win since making the Super Bowl three seasons ago.

We’ve come to expect that Manning will figure out a defense as a game goes along. He never really settled in against Baltimore, and the game ultimately came down to his glaring overtime mistake.

131 comments
LelandWilliamsJr.
LelandWilliamsJr.

Sowing and Reaping.  ELWAY gets TEBOWED by Ravens.  Couldn't happen to a bigger _______ than JE.

m.guszak
m.guszak

I cannot recall Joe Montana, John Elway, Terry Bradshaw or Troy Aikman making the gaffes that Peyton Manning has in his career. I won't argue that Manning puts up numbers in the regular season, always has, but in big games, he does not warrant inclusion in "greatest" conversation. I know he makes a lot of commercials and all, but the numbers don't and big interceptions don't lie. The pick in OT was inexcusable, high school qb's know better than trying to make that throw. Montana never made that throw! Elway never made that throw! Look through the hype.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

All these 'fans' that say Manning is overrated reminds me of the old joke about a bookie at the end of the football season, not wanting to lose his best customer, who bet on a bunch of football game every week and ALWAYS lost. The bookie says, 'How about betting on hockey'. 'Hockey', says the better, 'what do I know about hockey?'

lean6rtj2
lean6rtj2

Here we go...they spend the whole season slobbing all over Peyton, and now they want to talk about how he "blew it". Anybody who watched the game saw that the biggest problems on the field were John Fox, the weak Denver defense, and Jack Frost. The first INT was a tip drill pass that should have been caught. The fumble on 3rd and long midfield was a coverage sack - not that big. The last INT in overtime was pressure, coverage, and nearly a full quarter of football in 12 degree weather that they probably wouldn't have had to play if they'd used the 31 seconds and two timeouts that they had when they chose to end regulation and go to overtime.

billybob
billybob

Manning blows it.How stupid can you be,a defense that can't win with 35 points i would say the defense blew it

DavidBorsani
DavidBorsani

Tom Brady  is so much better than Manning.  He has been choking even in his days at Tennessee.  Always lost to Florida.  Overrated I agree.  Always thows picks at the worst possible time as when the game is on the line.  Never liked the Mannings as they appear to be hicks from the sticks.  Oh well he has his millions and supporters but really is not worth the money they pay him.  BTW Brady beat him this season as well.

JGwinn1048
JGwinn1048

Manning is probably really kicking himself for not bothering to TRY with 30 seconds left in the 4th Quarter and instead just letting the clock run out. Overrated? Yes, I agree. He's the modern day Dan Marino, big numbers in the regular season while one and done in the playoffs. Yes, he won a Superbowl but he beat a terrible Rex Grossman - big deal! When he played in another Superbowl against a real QB like Drew Brees, it was lights out. This really makes me question the validity of the argument that he won a Superbowl by some fans. Is it really that much to brag that Manning beat Grossman who is just as good as some kids playing in the park? Probably not so much when you think about it. As for Tebow, at least he wasn't one and done in the playoffs like Manning and probably wouldn't have just let the clock run out with 30 seconds left. Not sure if there was strategy with that or Manning's arrogance. 

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

Is Joe Flacco a good quarterback yet?

salvaje50
salvaje50

Thank god we don't have to see that big red splotch on his forehead anymore this year.

sammys2109
sammys2109

Lets finally put this to rest Peyton manning is the most overrated quarterback in nfl history. He rode Bob sanders and Dwight freeny to a Super Bowl victory, other than that he's garbage never will compare to Tom Brady, Joe Montana,Troy Aikman,Terry Bradshaw,Roger Staubach not even his boss John Elway who rode Terrell Davis coattails will he compare to. A stat driven quarterback who can't win big games when needed to. 9-11 in playoffs Tim Tebow 1-1.

jmart4
jmart4

Manning chokes in playoffs. Manning has been in the playoffs 12 times. He has lost his first game 8 times against teams he was favored against. Take Payton during regular season, Eli during playoffs. Makes perfect QB.

tradenpaint
tradenpaint

You people don't have a clue about football. The lack of a deep safety is why the Broncos lost! I wish my quarterback had 11 playoff losses, that means he is in the playoffs just about every year. Learn the game !!!!!!

omergc
omergc

Are you people serious?  Denver's problem was not Peyton but that of their defence.  Flaco shredded them with desperation Hail Mary's passes against an NFL defence.   Where was the Pass Rush?  Denver's defence was not properly prepared for this game.  Also it should have been obvious that Champ Bailey could not defend man to man.  Peyton still almost pulled it off but please put the blame where it belongs and that is on the DEFENCE!

Gary Thomas
Gary Thomas

Not sure why people seem to forget that Payton has a losing record in the playoffs - now 9  and 11.   So Tebow has a better playoff percentage at 1 and 1.  So I guess we can expect Denver to trade Payton to the Jets now.

dinohealth
dinohealth

Watching San Francisco, and wondering why so many folks (except for the Denver fans) thought that there was no place for a running Tebow in Denver....

BrendanMiles
BrendanMiles

Peyton Manning is to the NFL what Greg Norman is to golf

 

BudkisMandel
BudkisMandel

Donkos had the ball at the 20 yard line, 36 seconds and 3 time outs and they chose to run into the nice warm locker room.. If they gamble, get the ball in field goal range and make a field goal.. then there is no discussion here, as the Donkos would have won.. They half azzed it at the end of the game too.. I hate lazy teams.. they deserved to lose and they did..

BrownTrout
BrownTrout

Manning now has 11 playoff losses.  Amazing stat.  Terrible in the clutch.  He threw a pick in the last few minutes of the Super Bowl to the Saints ....and now the pick today.  Pressure gets to him.  Not Montana.

bbc
bbc

Manning should be glad that Colts lost to Ravens last weekend else a loss to Luck & Colts would have been way too embarrassing.

jstrickl
jstrickl

Denver would not be in the playoffs if it weren't for Manning.

renee
renee

Did any of the Manning haters watch the game? Champ Baily an the rest of the Denver secondary got toasted for 21 points all by themselves.  And the first interception was not Manning's.  He made the mistake of putting the ball right on the receiver's hands and he tipped it in the air.  Hardly Manning's fault.  Having said they though, after Tebows huge, breakout season with the Jets Elway is really kicking himself for trading him.  Oh, wait a minute ...

m.guszak
m.guszak

 @Rickapolis Considering Manning is 9-11 in postseason games, I think I would bet against him in the playoffs.

BlackSession1
BlackSession1

 @lean6rtj2 The first INT should have been wiped off by a PI that the refs apparently didn't notice. Champ Bailey was embarrassing and Raheem Moore looked like he should never be allowed on a football field again. Manning made the mistake in OT, but there was absolutely no reason for that game to still be happening - it should have ended in the 4th quarter. And I don't know if the offensive playcalling was Manning or McCoy, but it was garbage. And really, kneeling with 30 seconds AND time outs? WTF, John Fox?

bbc
bbc

 @billybob

 And a QB who can't win with a 14 point cushion his specials team provides is the reason for the loss in my book.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

 @JGwinn1048 Uh, sitting on the ball at the end of a half is a coaching decision.

jmcondreay
jmcondreay

 @sammys2109

 I don't think he is over rated as much as he suffers from Favre-itis.  He is a field general and does some amazing things which is why he is universally respected by his peers.  However, just like Favre (at the end of his career), he makes the worst mistake at the worst possible time.  As for the Brady comment by RGIII not Bob, you are right Brady has not won the Superbowl since spygate.  Nonetheless, he gets to the Superbowl often, thereby proving that he is more of a clutch player than Manning. 

Jeen71
Jeen71

 @sammys2109

 No, Pete did his part. Yes, he could have avoided those 2 INTs. But, the game was lost because of the coach's fault. With ball in hand after broncos just got a first down and 2 mins to burn with Ravens having no TOs, he went into super-conservative mode and ran 2 run plays when in the previous drive Pete was on fire completing all his passes. And at 3 and 7 and a min and half to burn, he again went to the running game  Inexplicable. And then the defense allowed a long TD on a long 3rd down play with no time-outs. Even after that with 28 secs, he could have at least tried to run few plays and try a long FG.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

 @sammys2109 Check out what his peers think of him. There is no truer test than what those in the same field think. That's so in just about any profession. You can't fool the people that do the same thing as you do. And Manning is universally respected. I don't want to be rude, but do you really understand football?

RG III not Bob
RG III not Bob

 @sammys2109 are you serious??? lmao you actually call Peyton Manning overrated yet you mention Tim Tebow in the same sentence lmao. Do you even watch football or are you stuck on Madden or something. So Manning rode Bob Sanders the greatest safety i guess and Dwight Freeny the best D end the league has ever seen. Oh and Elway rode TDavis thats interesting. Brady hasnt won since spygate, but thats a fluke i guess. Joe Montana played with scrubs name Jerry Rice and Ronnie lott. Troy Aikman was a one man show with these third stringers irvin and Emmitt. So i guess your right dude, such an overrated bum Peyton you suck buddy. Cant you be as good as these other qb's or eve tebow who hasnt seen a starting spot since he left the broncos, but he is a hidden gem that is overlooked by everyone in the NFL. lmao best joke of the day here.

bbc
bbc

 @tradenpaint

 Ever thought that maybe the QB is in playoffs in part due to crappy division he plays in? Manning played in AFC South for the most part against Titans (average team most of the time), Jaguars (nothing much needs to be said) and Texans (a new expansion team for the most part), and even a rookie in Luck was able to take Colts to playoffs in that division. And now Manning's in AFC West competing against likes of Chargers, Chiefs and Raiders!!! If an above-average QB can't take you to playoffs against such competition, I can't say much. If Manning had actually played in a tougher division like NFC East (like Eli does) that record would actually have meant something. Manning's record shows all he has done is win in poor divisions and falter when the standards are raised in playoffs.

sammys2109
sammys2109

@tradenpaint o ok it was the 4 turnovers by Peyton that did it if not for Trindon Holliday the Broncos wouldn't have even been in the game. No point of making playoffs if you one and done

bbc
bbc

 @omergc

 Offense and Manning has to take lion's share of the blame. They didn't do much when game was on the line. Halliday/specials team scored 2 TDs and the Broncos offense/Manning couldn't even capitalize on those freebies (14 points). Give any decent QB free 14 points in a playoff game at home and he would win the game. Apparently not Manning who it seems was hoping for another Halliday special in OT.

RG III not Bob
RG III not Bob

 @Gary Thomas I think people tend to forget that Manning doesnt play Defense. If you check his numbers he has posted better yardage then Brady and the TD's and INTs are very similar yet Brady is what 16-6 in the playoffs while Manning is 9-11. Its a team game. Tebow was averaging about 12 passes in a game...in the NFL...lmao they ran the ball about 90% of the time. If this i your argument I guess Trent Dilfer has a better stat then them all. He is 1-0 in the big game. Greatest QB to have ever played the game Dilfer.

bowarrior
bowarrior

 @dinohealth Tebow is done in the NFL, will never take another snap at QB.........count on it!!!

renee
renee

 @BudkisMandel After that last epic fail by the Bronco secondary to tie the game, any coach in the NFL would have done the same thing.  Their hearts were ripped out at that point so why take a chance.  One could ask why Harbaugh didn't go for 2 with 36 seconds left for the win? Where were his stones

bbc
bbc

 @jstrickl

 Well considering the fact that Tebow took Broncos to the playoffs last year despite coming in after a 1-4 start, and that Broncos are competing with the likes of Raiders, Chiefs and Chargers in AFC West, I would say almost any QB in the league can take Broncos to the playoffs. They will not be able to get the #1 seed but they will get to the playoffs in that crappy division.

bigcgcg
bigcgcg

 @renee

 Well, you'd have to be dumb not to want Manning over Tebow straight up...but put together the fact that Manning is old and beat up, and on his way out, and tebow is young, there might be another side to the story.  Also, nobody knows what would have happened if tebow was allowed to continue at Denver and start a full season after getting a little experience with the offense they set up for him. Maybe he tanks, but maybe not, and the Broncos got a Playoff win out of a much cheaper tebow, and no playoff win out of a much more expensive (and expensive going forward, where he is only going to get worse...think Brett Favre's second season at Minnesota) Peyton manning.

BrownTrout
BrownTrout

 @renee Listen up.....Manning is another Favre in the clutch....same play as Favre....running, cross body throw in final minutes = pick.  Favre against Minnesota and Manning today.  

bbc
bbc

 @renee

 Yeah we did and we did see the pick 6 which was manning's fault and we did watch the int in OT where Manning threw across his body in the middle of the field - a big no no which he should have learnt watching Favre throw similar kind if ints - which resulted in the game winning FG for Ravens. Champ Bailey and Carter were Manning's equivalent in defense.

BigBubba
BigBubba

 @bowarrior  @DavidBorsani Brady was outstanding at Michigan.  Didn't win the national championship, but he led that team and Michigan never lost because of QB play in his time there.  Additionally, his first year of playing time (and part of second year) was only part time because of Lloyd Carr's fascination with Drew Henson.  Brady had something like 10 comeback wins in 2 years, beat every big rival, won the Orange Bowl. 

m.guszak
m.guszak

 @bowarrior  @DavidBorsani How many big games did Manning win at Tennessee? You are aware when Tennessee won their national championship, aren't you? Tee Martin, the year after Manning left.

DavidBorsani
DavidBorsani

 @bowarrior   3 super bow rings to 1.  9 to 4 record against Peyton.  Manning is a choker.   He is a repeat of Dan Marino or Danny  White.   Good in the Regular season choker in the Playoffs.  I'll take Brady.

JGwinn1048
JGwinn1048

 @BlackSession1 Truth hurts. I would suggest you keep drinking that Peyton juice. At least his brother defeated a real QB twice for those rings. 

JGwinn1048
JGwinn1048

 @JoeCabot  I remember that time when Dungy was ready to pull Manning off the field for a punt unit. Manning stood up and said "No, no we're gonna try and do this." They did it and were successful. All I remember was, "ho hum, off the field I go" and so did their chance to end it without going to OT. 

bowarrior
bowarrior

 @sammys2109  First int. was off the hands of a receiver, and that was a non-call for interference. Bottom line..................3 LONG passes allowed by secondary for TD's. Inexcusable at this level. Champ Bailey needs to retire and Rahim Brock should be on scout team.

bigcgcg
bigcgcg

 @renee  @BudkisMandel

 Yeah, easy to second guess their decision...but If the broncos tried to make something happen with 30 seconds left and ended up throwing a pick or fumbling, they would have given the game away in regulation time. Why not regroup and start fresh in overtime?  It was the right call, since both teams get a shot at the ball unless their is a TD scored on the first posession.

Chris8
Chris8

 @bbc  @jstrickl Add to that the fact that the Broncos actually WON a playoff game last year with Tebow.  Now that's messed up when a real (and still pretty elite) QB can't do what a QB-in-name-only could.

renee
renee

 @bbc bbc, I agree the last pick was a bad decision and bad throw, a la Brett Favre.  But I don't see how you pin the the first one on Maning when the ball ounces off the receivers hands straight into the air.  Yeah, in the scorebook he gets the INT but in reality, if you saw it, that's very harsh.  PS - I'm in no way way a Bronco fan 

bbc
bbc

 @renee  @bbc

 At the end of the day Manning came up short when it counted just like he has done all his career. Even if one int was not his fault, what about those 2 other turnovers which resulted in 10 points for Ravens? And how can you even defend that horrible int in OT where he looked almost a rookie or Favre, and neither is a compliment to him. If this is what you get from an "elite" QB I would rather have someone like Flacco who actually wins in playoffs every year.