BALTIMORE — Ray Lewis‘ last ride now will take him to Denver.
Boldin set a franchise record with 145 yards receiving, including the clinching touchdown in the Ravens' 24-9 victory over Andrew Luck and 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 Denver next Saturday.
The Broncos beat the Ravens 34-17 three weeks ago.
“I wanted Denver,” Boldin said. “Because they beat us.”
Lewis, who made 13 tackles, even lined up at fullback for the final kneel-down in his last home game of a 17-year career. 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. “It’s one of those things, when you recap it all and try to say what is one of your greatest moments.
” I knew how it started but I never knew how it would end here in Baltimore. To go the way it did today, I wouldn’t change nothing.”
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. Quarterback coach Clyde Christensen called the plays, but Baltimore’s suddenly revitalized defense — inspired by Lewis‘ pending retirement, no doubt — never let standout rookie QB Luck get comfortable.
Sunday’s victory enhanced the Ravens' success rate in opening playoff games. Flacco now has won at least one postseason game in all five of his pro seasons, the only quarterback to do it in the Super Bowl era.
“It’s huge for us. It’s huge for this city, they’ve supported us this entire year and they expect a lot from us. In return, we want to give it to them.”