Ye gods, we have watchable postseason football. Who knew such things were possible?
Baltimore opened the game by picking up a couple first downs mostly with the ground game. After Ray Rice picked up eight yards on a first down, Joe Flacco looked for last week’s Meast, Anquan Boldin, over the middle, but it couldn’t be hauled in. Ray Rice was stuffed on 3rd and 2, forcing a punt.
The problem with punt coverage is you gotta cover both sides of the field. Baltimore didn’t bother to do that. 90 yards later, undefeated Trindon Holliday was in the end zone for the game’s first score. Special teams continued to haunt the Ravens on the ensuing kickoff, which Jacoby Jones bobbled, pinning the Baltimore offense inside their own 10. A questionable pass interference call got Baltimore out of the shadow of their own end zone on third down. Baltimore took advantage of the break, with Joe Flacco hitting Torrey Smith with a bomb to tie it early.
It didn’t stay tied long, as Pey-Pey got pick-sixed on the next possession, resulting in this Peyton Face at the refs.
He had a point, though. Eric Decker was clearly interfered with on the pass. So Baltimore was the first team to take a lead on Denver since the Buccaneers in Week 13, in no small part due to a questionable call and a questionable non-call from the officials.
The Broncos rebounded with a long scoring drive, punctuated with a Manning touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley, to tie it. Denver got another touchdown pass from Peyton to grab the lead in the second. Eric Decker ran onto the field without his helmet to join the celebration, which apparently isn’t a penalty because celebration rules make no sense. The Broncos probably got away with pass interference on a pass broken up intended for Anquan Boldin on a third down on the next Baltimore drive, so at least questionable calls are starting to go both ways.
Denver soon converted a 4th and 1 on Baltimore’s side of the field, John Harbaugh lost a challenge, and the Broncos appeared on the verge of taking control into the half, but Matt Prater, who routinely hit long crucial field goals last year for Tebow, shanked one. Torrey Smith then abused Champ Bailey for, like, the tenth time of the game on a tying touchdown catch in the last minute of the half.
Oh, thank goodness we got at least one half of awesome football this postseason.