— Ultimately, it was a special teams play that lifted the
For much of Saturday's 38-35 double-overtime win over the
The Broncos' 5-foot-5
It was quite a day for a Ravens team that had arguably the most improved coverage units in the league this season. But in the end, it was the Ravens' kicker who helped seal the win.
"It's something we didn't do all year and to do it in playoffs when you need it the most and you need your team to be consistent and show up, and special teams didn't show up, luckily (kicker Justin)
Rookie kicker Justin Tucker kicked a 47-yard field goal in the second quarter of overtime to seal the 38-35 win over the Broncos in the AFC divisional playoff game.
But before Tucker had an opportunity for the field goal, the Ravens special teams unit struggled.
Holliday opened the scoring when the Ravens' first possession ended in a punt and
The Ravens had not allowed a touchdown return all season and, under special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg, had made a drastic improvement this season. The Ravens were seventh in the NFL in punt coverage, up from 24th in 2011, and ranked 13th in kickoff coverage, up from 31st.
Holliday wasn't done, though. The Ravens'
"We knew he was an electric returner," Ayanbadejo said. "I haven't seen it on film, so I don't know what happened. I'll have to see it on film, but definitely to play that bad on special teams and come out with a victory, someone is definitely looking out for us. We have to make a lot of corrections next week."
The Ravens' return game, meanwhile, was almost a non-factor. They had 22 yards on three punt returns and just 64 yards on four kickoff returns.
It was the kick coverage that really hurt the Ravens, though. Ayanbadejo was surprised to see the Ravens struggle so much in that regard, but believes they will fix the issues.
"Yeah, it's correctable," he said. "We just gotta keep doing what we always do. We're definitely down some guys, some guys were hurt, but there's still no excuses. It's championship football and all week we talked about playing championship football. Just doing everything the right way was our emphasis all week, and to go out there and to not perform like we did, we're lucky we have such a good offense and defense that we're able to come out of this."
It was a celebratory locker room, but the Ravens know that they weren't perfect against the Broncos.
No, the Ravens weren't perfect, but they were pleased to get out of Denver with a victory and start looking ahead to the AFC championship game.