“In games like this,” Vinatieri said, “you have to make them all.”
The Ravens followed up Vinatieri’s miss — his first after 18 successful kicks against the Ravens — Baltimore retaliated with a five-play, 70-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Anquan Boldin.
Until that point, even with an offense that couldn’t manage a touchdown, it was still a one-score game.
“It’s always come down to a one-score game, a 10-point deficit, and this team has always been able to overcome that for many weeks,” Pagano said. “Sitting on the sideline and looking in everybody’s eyes, the faith and belief was still there that we were going to get the job done.”
Owner Jim Irsay said the Colts’ future is promising.
“This year was incredible,” he said. “It was special and unique in so many ways. It was one of the most special seasons in Colts history and probably in NFL history. I couldn’t have imagined how this season would have played out. We had a coach fighting for his life, we reorganized, won 11 games and went to the playoffs. ... To say that our future is bright is an understatement.”
Boldin set a franchise record with 145 yards receiving, including the clinching touchdown, setting up the showdown with the Broncos. Denver beat Baltimore 34-17 three weeks ago.
“It’s huge for us,” Boldin said. “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.”
Sunday’s victory also enhanced the Ravens’ success rate in opening playoff games. Flacco 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.
Baltimore overcame the first two lost fumbles of the season by Ray Rice, too, as John Harbaugh became the first head coach with wins in his first five playoff campaigns.
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