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 win 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.”
And he wanted the Broncos because it prolongs the Ravens’ pursuit of their first NFL title since the 2000 season, when Lewis won the first of two Defensive Player of the Year awards.
“I came to Baltimore to win a championship,” Boldin added. “We all did.”
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.
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.
Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who went 9-3 as interim coach, was absent Sunday after being hospitalized with an undisclosed illness.