DENVER — No matter where his season or his career might end, Joe Flacco will always have The Fling.
And Peyton Manning will always have to live with the throw he made, too.
Flacco’s desperation 70-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones with 31 seconds left in regulation saved the game for Baltimore in regulation and Manning’s throw across his body in overtime all but lost it for Denver.
On a frostbitten day on the frozen tundra known as Denver, the Ravens got a 47-yard field goal from Justin Tucker 1:42 into the second overtime Saturday for a 38-35 upset over the Broncos, extending linebacker Ray Lewis’ career by at least one game.
“Our team is so confident and everything went against us,” Lewis said, “but we found a way to come here together and we’re leaving together.”
The Ravens (12-6), 9 ½-point underdogs for this one, will get ready for a game at either New England or Houston, who meet Sunday for the other spot in the AFC title game.
And how to describe the Flacco Fling?
On third-and-three from his 30 with 41 seconds and no timeouts left, Flacco bought time in the pocket and saw Jones sprinting down the right sideline into double coverage. Defensive back Tony Carter slowed up and let Jones streak by him. Instead of staying step for step with Jones, safety Rahim Moore tried to leap and knock down the ball. But Flacco got it over Moore’s head and into Jones’ hands.
“At that point, you have to start taking shots,” Flacco said. “You have to get a little lucky.”
Moore was on the verge of tears after the game.
“The loss, it was my fault,” Moore said. “I got a little too happy. It was pathetic. My fault. Next time I’ll make that play.”
The teams punted three times to start overtime, setting up Denver on its 7-yard line. Manning was moving the Broncos along slowly and steadily. But on second-and-six from the 38, he rolled to his right, stopped and threw across the field to Brandon Stokley. Graham stepped in front of the receiver.
“Not a good decision,” said Manning, who also had an interception returned for a touchdown and a fumble. “Not a great throw, either.”
Those mistakes nullified a record-setting day for returner Trindon Holliday, who returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown and a kickoff 104 yards for another score. Both were playoff records for longest returns.
All for naught.