Flacco, Ravens go long in improbable win

Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports

Joe Flacco won his fifth road postseason game, tied for the most in NFL history.In the fourth-longest game in NFL history, the Baltimore Ravens beat the Denver Broncos 38-35 in double overtime to advance to the AFC Championship Game.

Longest Games in NFL History

The Ravens trailed by seven points with 41 seconds remaining in regulation, facing a third-and-3 from their 30-yard line, when Joe Flacco hit Jacoby Jones with a 70-yard touchdown pass to tie the game and ultimately force overtime.

According to ESPN Stats & Information’s win probability model, Denver had a 97.2 percent chance of winning the game before that touchdown throw.

Flacco was 4-for-7 with three touchdowns on throws more than 20 yards downfield. The Broncos had allowed only three such touchdowns all season.

The three touchdowns on those throws were Flacco’s most in a game in his career and tied the most thrown by any quarterback in a game since the start of 2008.

The Ravens attacked the Broncos with the deep ball all game long. Flacco’s average target depth was 13.4 yards downfield, his highest rate in a game all season. His 6.6-yard average target depth in Week 15 against the Broncos was his second-lowest of the season.

Broncos Defense This Season
Passes More Than 20 Yards Downfield

Torrey Smith caught two touchdowns on throws more than 20 yards downfield. Only three receivers had a game with multiple touchdowns on those throws this season.

Flacco was 6-for-9 for 84 yards and five first downs targeting tight ends. More than 55 percent of his targets to Dennis Pitta or Ed Dickson went for first downs. It was just 36 percent to all other receivers.

For Peyton Manning, it was his 11th career postseason loss, tying him with Brett Favre for the most all-time among starting quarterbacks. The Ravens were able to increase their pressure on him after halftime.

Peyton Manning Dropbacks
Sacked or Under Duress on Saturday

Manning dropped back to pass 22 times in the first half and wasn’t sacked or put under duress on any of them. In the second half, Manning had 24 dropbacks and was pressured 10 times (41.7 percent).

The pressure led to two turnovers, including the interception in overtime that set up the Ravens’ game-winning field goal. Manning was sacked or put under duress only 14.2 percent of the time in the regular season, the lowest rate for any qualified quarterback.

Manning struggled on shorter throws all game. He was off-target on more than 19 percent of his passes thrown within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, more than double his rate from the regular season.

It was Flacco’s fifth career playoff road win, tied with Eli Manning for the most in NFL history. He overcame some truly special-teams play by Denver.

Trindon Holliday returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and took the second-half kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown -- both NFL postseason records. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us he is the only player to return a punt and kickoff for a touchdown in the same postseason game.