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

Ben TateSep 30 01:23p

Cleveland Browns RB Ben Tate (knee) returned to practice Tuesday, Sept. 30, for the first time since spraining his right knee in the season opener Sept. 7. It means [ More ]

Niles PaulSep 30 01:13p

Washington Redskins TE Niles Paul (concussion) did not practice Tuesday, Sept. 30, and remains in the league's concussion protocol. However, head coach Jay Gruden said Paul is 'making very good progress.'

Mason FosterSep 30 01:13p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Mason Foster (shoulder) is improving, but he is not sure if he will be available to play in the team's Week 5 game. Getting a [ More ]

Bruce CarterSep 30 01:13p

Dallas Cowboys LB Bruce Carter (quadriceps) isn't expected to miss a significant amount of time, but he's not expected to play in Week 5 against the Houston Texans. The [ More ]

Jon GrudenSep 30 12:53p

The Oakland Raiders may look at free-agent head coach Jon Gruden for their head coaching vacancy, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The team is looking for a [ More ]

Tom BradySep 30 12:43p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady and the offense struggled mightily in a 41-14 thrashing by the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4 Monday, Sept. 29, and head coach [ More ]

Trent WilliamsSep 30 12:33p

Washington Redskins OT Trent Williams (knee) and OG Shawn Lauvao (knee) both were held out of practice Tuesday, Sept. 30.

Jalil BrownSep 30 12:13p

The Indianapolis Colts signed free-agent CB Jalil Brown (Dolphins) to their active roster Tuesday, Sept. 30. WR Chandler X. Jones (Browns) and LB Rob Ruggiero (Colts) were signed to the practice squad.

Robert MathisSep 30 12:13p

Indianapolis Colts LB Robert Mathis was signed to a contract extension through the 2016 season Tuesday, Sept. 30. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Bishop SankeySep 30 10:43a

Tennessee Titans RB Bishop Sankey's footwork was a little better in Week 4, according to head coach Ken Whisenhunt.

Carson PalmerSep 30 10:03a

Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer (shoulder) said the nerve in his shoulder hasn't progressed as much as he'd hoped, but he thinks he could prove capable of starting.

Nick FolesSep 30 09:53a

Philadelphia Eagles QB Nick Foles has completed 25.6 percent of his throws over 20 yards this season. He is on pace to make 156 attempts of 20 or more [ More ]

Chris RaineySep 30 08:53a

Free-agent RB Chris Rainey (Cardinals) signed an undisclosed deal with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

Knile DavisSep 30 12:12a

Kansas City Cheifs RB Knile Davis rushed for a team-high 107 yards on 16 carries in Week 5 and added one catch for 12 yards.

Brandon LaFellSep 29 11:53p

New England Patriots WR Brandon LaFell had a team-high six receptions for a game-high 119 yards and a touchdown in the Week 4 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs [ More ]

Rob GronkowskiSep 29 11:53p

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski hauled in two receptions for 31 yards and a touchdown in the Week 4 game against the Kansas City Chiefs Monday, Sept. 29. [ More ]

Travis KelceSep 29 11:43p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce had eight catches on nine targets for a season-high 93 yards and a touchdown Monday, Sept. 29.

Dennis AllenSep 29 11:43p

The Oakland Raiders called head coach Dennis Allen Monday, Sept. 29, to inform him he has been relieved of his head coaching duties.

Donnie AverySep 29 11:13p

Kansas City Chiefs WR Donnie Avery (groin) has been ruled out for the remainder of the team's Week 5 game with a groin injury.

Tom BradySep 29 11:13p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady completed 14 of his 23 pass attempts for 159 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the Week 4 loss against the Kansas [ More ]

Brandon ThompsonSep 29 11:03p

Cincinnati Bengals OG Kevin Zeitler (calf) and defensive tackle Brandon Thompson (knee) missed practice Monday, Sept. 29, and are not expected to play in Week 5.

Vontaze BurfictSep 29 10:52p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict (concussion) did not practice Monday, Sept. 29, but is expected to play in the team's Week 5 game, according to head coach Marvin Lewis.

Marvin JonesSep 29 10:33p

Cincinnati Bengals WR Marvin Jones (foot) is expected to return in Week 5, and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said he 'can't wait' to use Jones in the offense.

Teddy BridgewaterSep 29 09:47p

Minnesota Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater (ankle) did not participate in practice Monday, Sept. 29. QB Christian Ponder worked with the first-team offense during practice.

Geno SmithSep 29 09:47p

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan publicly remained supportive of QB Geno Smith Monday, Sept. 29. He said he talked to the quarterback about his incident with yelling [ More ]

Donald BrownSep 29 09:23p

San Diego Chargers RB Donald Brown and RB Branden Oliver combined for 42 yards on 29 carries in Week 4, and although head coach Mike McCoy bashed the running [ More ]

LeSean McCoySep 29 09:23p

Updating a previous report, Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy (toe) is not injured, head coach Chip Kelly said Monday, Sept. 29. 'He's not on the treatment list,' Kelly said. [ More ]

Vernon DavisSep 29 09:23p

Updating a previous report, San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis (back) had a 'positive mindset' Monday, Sept. 29, but general manager Trent Baalke said the extent of his injury is 'not fully known.'

Stevan RidleySep 29 09:13p

New England Patriots RB Stevan Ridley was on the field for just one of his team's seven offensive snaps in the first quarter Monday, Sept. 29, in the Week [ More ]

Roddy WhiteSep 29 09:03p

Atlanta Falcons WR Roddy White said he expects the team to be involved in high-scoring shootouts all year, and head coach Mike Smith agreed to an extent. 'I don't [ More ]

David NelsonSep 29 08:13p

New York Jets WR David Nelson (ankle) suffered an ankle injury in Week 4, and the signing of WR Chris Owusu could be an indication Nelson's injury is significant. [ More ]

Frank AlexanderSep 29 08:03p

The Carolina Panthers reinstated DE Frank Alexander Monday, Sept. 29, after he served his four-game suspension. He won't count toward the 53-man roster limit for one week.

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