Does Ravens-Broncos Rank as One of the Best Playoff Games?
This one belongs in the discussion of “greatest playoff games of all time.” It’s hard to give it the nod, though, because the most dramatic play and the most dramatic decision were more about one team’s mistakes than about another team’s greatness. The mistakes came from the Broncos. One was safety Rahim Moore’s failure to recognize his deep-half zone responsibilities on Jacoby Jones’ 70-yard touchdown. Another was John Fox telling Peyton Manning to take a knee with half a minute to go in regulation when the Broncos had acceptable field position (own 20 yard-line) and two timeouts. Why are you paying Manning more than $1 million a game if you’re not going to lean on him in that situation?
Somewhat lost in the aftermath of this instant classic’s drama is the epic performance of Joe Flacco…On Saturday, Flacco kept the Ravens in it early with a pair of first-half touchdown strikes to Torrey Smith. No one who watched the film on Denver’s Week 15 thrashing of Baltimore would have ever imagined the young wideout beating the future Hall of Famer’s press coverage…Flacco is the reason Baltimore pulled off one of the bigger divisional round upsets in N.F.L. history.
Now that I've had time to review some tape from Saturday and Week 15, I absolutely agree with Benoit. In Week 15, Champ was able to keep Smith at the line of scrimmage much longer and with much more force. It's hard to blame Del Rio for employing press man with Champ in the first half of Saturday's game based on what Bailey had done to Smith previously.
I'm not as quick to reward Flacco, though. He made some decent throws, but it's not as if he didn't just throw the ball up and hope for the best on more than one occasion. Of course, I'm also pissed off still, so I might be slightly biased.