2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Ravens rally, shock Broncos in AFC

By BARRY WILNER - AP Pro Football Writer
    2013-01-12 21:10

The wide smiles in Baltimore on Saturday night might be matched by those in New England and Houston.

When the Ravens stunned the top-seeded Denver Broncos 38-35 in overtime, it meant the AFC championship game will wind up at either the Patriots' or Texans' home.

Those teams meet Sunday in the other AFC divisional playoff, and will be hard-pressed to equal the excitement and big plays provided by the Ravens and Broncos in icy Denver.

Rookie Justin Tucker's 47-yard field goal 1:42 into the second overtime of the longest playoff game in 26 years sent the Ravens into their second consecutive conference title game. They lost 23-20 at New England a year ago.

Earlier this season, the Ravens (12-6) beat the Patriots 31-30 in Baltimore. They lost 43-13 at Houston.

Later Saturday night, Green Bay was at San Francisco in an NFC matchup. On Sunday, NFC wild-card Seattle is at South champion Atlanta, followed by the game between AFC South winner Houston and East champ New England.

Ravens 38, Broncos 35, 2 OT

Joe Flacco's 70-yard heave to Jacoby Jones with 31 seconds remaining forced the overtime in frigid temperatures. Flacco is the only quarterback to win playoff games in each of his first five seasons, and he heads to his third AFC championship match.

The Ravens also prolonged star linebacker Ray Lewis' career. He announced before they beat Indianapolis in the wild-card round that this was the last of his 17 pro seasons.

``Our team is so confident and everything went against us, but we found a way to come here together and we're leaving together,'' Lewis said. ``It's just awesome.''

Peyton Manning lost in his first postseason appearance with the Broncos (13-4), who had won their last 11 games to earn home-field advantage in the playoffs. They wasted it by giving up long plays, negating a record-setting performance by kick returner Trindon Holliday.

Holliday ran back the second-half kickoff 104 yards for a TD. He went 90 yards with a first-quarter punt return to become the first player to score on one of each in a playoff game.

Seahawks (12-5) at Falcons (13-3)

Oddly, there might be more doubts floating around the home team with the spiffy record than the visitors.

While Seattle has won six in a row, erased its reputation as a road flop with three straight away victories - including last week at Washington - and has the league's stingiest defense.

It's Atlanta, 0-3 in the postseason under coach Mike Smith and with Matt Ryan at quarterback, that probably faces more pressure.

``We've been disappointed a few times,'' said center Todd McClure, a Falcon for 13 years. ``I think we've got guys in this locker room who are hungry and ready to get over that hump.''

One of them is Tony Gonzalez, the career leader in nearly all receiving categories among tight ends. In 16 pro seasons, Gonzalez never has won a playoff game. And he's said this very likely is his final year in the NFL.

``I'm not going to lie to you,'' he said. ``I really, really, really want to win this game.''

To get it, Gonzalez, Ryan and star receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White must contend with the league's most physical defense, a unit that completely shut down the Redskins for three quarters in the 24-14 wild-card win.

``I expect our guys to try to play like they always play,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ``They don't need to change anything because we're not doing anything different, we're going to try and hang with them, and we'll find out what happens.''

Texans (13-4) at Patriots (12-4)

Houston's reward for its wild-card win over Cincinnati is a return to trip to Foxborough, where the Texans' late-season spiral began. Houston was in position for home-field advantage in the AFC before being routed 42-14 by the Patriots, then losing twice more in the final three games.

This is only the fourth postseason game in the Texans' 11-season NFL history. The Patriots began winning Super Bowls with Tom Brady before the Texans were born.

Houston must bring the fierce pass rush it often has shown with end J.J. Watt, who led the NFL with 20 1-2 sacks.

``Biggest goal of them all, Super Bowl, and this is a big step for us,'' Watt said, ``and we're really excited about the challenge.''

That challenge comes against the NFL's most prolific offense. The Texans and Patriots allowed the same number of points, 331, but New England led NFL in scoring with 557 points, 34.8 per game.

Brady would surpass Joe Montana for most postseason victories by a quarterback by beating Houston. Brady is 16-6, although he began 10-0.

He isn't looking for a repeat of the Dec. 10 romp.

``Giving us an opportunity to have this game at home, I think that's the important thing about last game,'' Brady said. ``Other than that, this is going to be a whole different game full of our own execution, our ability to try to beat a very good football team that's played well all year.''

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Peyton ManningDec 18 07:22p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh, illness) said his illness is behind him, and he was receiving treatment for his thigh Thursday, Dec. 18. Head coach John Fox called Manning day-to-day.

Roy MillerDec 18 07:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared DL Andre Branch, CB Jeremy Harris, SS Matt Daniels, DL Roy Miller, CB Teddy Williams, WR Tommy Streeter, OG Tyler Shatley inactive for Week 16.

Tommy StreeterDec 18 07:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared DL Andre Branch, CB Jeremy Harris, SS Matt Daniels, DL Roy Miller, CB Teddy Williams, WR Tommy Streeter, OG Tyler Shatley inactive for Week 16.

Kendall WrightDec 18 07:12p

Tennessee Titans WR Kendall Wright (hand) is active for Week 16 after being limited in practice all week.

Frank GoreDec 18 07:02p

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore (concussion) continues through the concussion protocol this week, but head coach Jim Harbaugh anticipates Gore suiting up in Week 16 against the San [ More ]

Julius ThomasDec 18 06:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) played just 29 snaps in Week 15; only ten of them were pass routes, according to Pro Football Focus.

Rashad JenningsDec 18 06:12p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Carlos HydeDec 18 05:52p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

DeAndre HopkinsDec 18 05:42p

Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, Dec. 18.

Blake BortlesDec 18 04:22p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles has earned positive reviews from the team in his rookie season after being thrust into the spotlight early this year. 'That is not the [ More ]

Jay CutlerDec 18 04:12p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler was benched just for this week against the Detroit Lions, according to head coach Marc Trestman. Cutler will be active and serve as the [ More ]

DeAngelo WilliamsDec 18 04:02p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (hand) will be fitted cast that he can play with on his injured hand. Williams still has not caught a pass with the injured [ More ]

Rashad JenningsDec 18 04:02p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) has not been able to do any running this week, according to head coach Tom Coughlin.

Ryan MathewsDec 18 03:42p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Cam NewtonDec 18 02:52p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) fully participated in practice Thursday, Dec. 18, and appears to be on track to start in Week 16, according to head coach Ron Rivera.

DeMarco MurrayDec 18 02:42p

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand), who was expected to take some team snaps in practice Thursday, Dec. 18, is in no more risk if he plays in Week [ More ]

Cam NewtonDec 18 02:12p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) said he is not dealing with any pain in his back but is taking things one day at a time. Newton said he [ More ]

Peyton ManningDec 18 02:02p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh) left practice early Thursday, Dec. 18, because he is receiving a scheduled day of rest. Manning was not limping when he was walking to the locker room.

LeSean McCoyDec 18 01:32p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Chris Polk appears to have become the team's goal-line back of late, and two of the three snaps he played in Week 15 led to short [ More ]

Chris PolkDec 18 01:32p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Chris Polk appears to have become the team's goal-line back of late, and two of the three snaps he played in Week 15 led to short [ More ]

Cam NewtonDec 18 01:22p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) had an increased set of repetitions in practice Thursday, Dec. 18, and it looks like he's on track to play in Week 16 [ More ]

Rashad JenningsDec 18 12:52p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) is not participating in practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Andre JohnsonDec 18 12:52p

Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson (concussion) has cleared the leagues concussion protocol and will play in the team's Week 16 game.

Julio JonesDec 18 12:12p

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is not participating in practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Case KeenumDec 18 10:03a

Houston Texans QB Case Keenum is expected to start in Week 16.

Philip RiversDec 18 09:22a

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (back) is battling a back injury that is more severe than the team has acknowledged, according to a league source. Rivers' back injury [ More ]

LeSean McCoyDec 18 01:03a

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy opened practice on the sidelines Wednesday, Dec. 17, while RB Chris Polk opened with first-team reps. After practice McCoy did not seem too concerned. [ More ]

Ronnie HillmanDec 18 01:03a

The Denver Broncos are hopeful RB Ronnie Hillman (foot) will be able to return for the Week 16 game against the Cincinnati Bengals Monday, Dec. 22, or for the [ More ]

Drew StantonDec 17 07:33p

Arizona Cardinals QB Drew Stanton (knee) said this injury is different from any other he's ever had, and he said it's too soon to know if he could return [ More ]

Carlos HydeDec 17 07:03p

San Francisco 49ers RBs Frank Gore (concussion) and Carlos Hyde (ankle) did not take part in practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Jay CutlerDec 17 06:43p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler will be benched in favor of QB Jimmy Clausen in Week 16 against the Detroit Lions, according to a source.

Jimmy ClausenDec 17 06:43p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler will be benched in favor of QB Jimmy Clausen in Week 16 against the Detroit Lions, according to a source.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group