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Broncos, Ravens tied at 35 heading into OT

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Broncos, Ravens tied at 35 heading into OT

DENVER (AP) The Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens went into overtime in their AFC divisional playoff tied at 35 after Joe Flacco threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones over Tony Carter and Rahim Moore with 31 seconds left in regulation Saturday.

Leading 35-28 with 1:15 left, the Broncos punted to Jones, the Pro Bowl returner who was overshadowed all day by Trindon Holliday, and he made a fair catch at the 23 with 1:09 to go.

On third-and-3 from his own 30, Flacco wound up and found Jones down the right sideline for the stunning score. Carter let Jones go and Moore tried to go up to bat it down, but mistimed his jump.

The Broncos got the ball at their 20 with 30 seconds left, but Peyton Manning took a knee and this game went into overtime. Denver also went into overtime in the playoffs last year, when Tim Tebow hit Demaryius Thomas for an 80-yard TD on the first play to beat Pittsburgh.

Manning atoned for a fumble that led to a score by Baltimore by driving Denver 88 yards in 10 plays and hitting Thomas from 17 yards out for the go-ahead score that broke a 28-all tie midway through the fourth quarter.

And Holliday became the first player in NFL playoff history to return both a punt and a kickoff for scores.

The Broncos (13-3) were trying to avoid becoming yet another No. 1 seed to lose in the divisional round. Since 2005, eight of the 14 top-seeded teams lost their first game in the playoffs, four in each conference.

They breezed past the Ravens 34-17 in Baltimore on Dec. 16 after racing to a 31-3 lead but this one was going down to the wire - and beyond - something the Broncos didn't do at all during their 11-game winning streak that they brought into the playoffs.

Holliday, the NFL's shortest - and quite possibly fastest - player, followed an amazing block by Jacob Hester to return the second-half kickoff 104 yards to put Denver ahead 28-21. That was 2 yards longer than the record set in 2010 by Atlanta's Eric Weems.

In the first half, Holliday got the scoring started when he fielded Sam Koch's punt, broke one tackle and raced down the Ravens' sideline for a 90-yard TD return, avoiding the punter as he zipped into the end zone. The previous longest TD on a punt return in a playoff game was Jermaine Lewis' 88-yarder for Baltimore in 2001.

Manning, 0-3 in playoff games below 40 degrees, wore gloves on each hand in the cold. He was sacked and coughed up the ball at his 37 late in the third quarter, Paul Kruger recovering for Baltimore.

Ray Rice carried five times for 37 yards, taking it in from a yard out with 20 seconds left in the quarter to tie it at 28.

The 13-degree temperature at kickoff made this the coldest playoff game ever played in Denver. The wind chill was 2. The only colder game played in Denver was against San Diego on Dec. 10, 1972, when the temperature was 9 degrees.

Holliday also returned a punt and a kickoff for scores in the regular season, and his big day came just an hour after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated his intention to consider this offseason the idea of abolishing kickoffs altogether for safety's sake.

Goodell said he realizes it's an exciting play but worries that players will keep getting head injuries.

The Ravens countered Holliday's speed with Torrey Smith's. The Baltimore receiver breezed past Champ Bailey for two long touchdowns in the first half, including one just before halftime that tied it at 21.

Smith had just two catches in the first half, but they covered 91 yards and both went for scores.

He sped past Bailey for a 59-yard TD in the first quarter and then beat him down the sideline for a 32-yard TD catch 36 seconds left before the break that capped a three-play, 58-yard drive that began after Matt Prater botched a 52-yard field-goal attempt that would have given Denver a double-digit lead.

Running back Knowshon Moreno's first touchdown catch of the season, a 13-yard grab in tight coverage by linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, had given the Broncos a 21-14 lead. Moreno later left with a knee injury.

Manning, the league's only four-time MVP, had lost his three previous playoff games below 40 degrees, all while playing for the Indianapolis Colts, who released him last year after a series of neck operations. Manning had a stellar bounce-back season in Denver, throwing for 4,659 yards and a team-record 37 TDs.

Wearing gloves on both hands for the first time in his career - the one on the right hand as much a concession to the altered feel of his grip following the four neck surgeries as it was for the wintry weather, Manning threw a 15-yard TD toss to Brandon Stokley to tie it at 14.

Baltimore tied it at 7 when Smith got behind Bailey and hauled in Flacco's 59-yard touchdown toss.

Forty-two seconds later, cornerback Corey Graham picked off a Manning pass that deflected off receiver Eric Decker and returned it 39 yards for the score - and the Broncos trailed for the first time since Dec. 2 against Tampa Bay.

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton on Twitter:http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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Cyrus Jones looking to seize new opportunity at slot corner

Cyrus Jones looking to seize new opportunity at slot corner

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Cyrus Jones’ old role with the Ravens was as a depth cornerback and return man on special teams. His new role could have much more significance. 

Despite a comfortable win over the Packers last Thursday, the good feelings were quickly dampened by an announcement from coach John Harbaugh that nickel cornerback Tavon Young would likely miss the rest of the season with a neck injury.

Young is still waiting to make a final decision, but with him out of the fold for a significant chunk of time, the race is on to try to replace him in an important role on the Ravens defense.

As of Saturday, one of the favorites to assume that role was Jones. He played 34 defensive snaps against the Packers (57 percent), the highest total on the defense, and is a top option for the Ravens in replacing Young.

“Tavon is a great player, I hate seeing what’s going on with him right now,” Jones said. “I’m praying for him, as all of us are, but it’s up to the next man to step up, whoever that is, and I’m just keeping on trying to come out here and practice hard and get better.”

Young signed a three-year, $25.8 million dollar contract in the offseason. The signing made him the highest-paid nickel cornerback in the league. 

Now, the Ravens will use a host of cornerbacks to assume Young’s role on defense. He had 37 tackles, two sacks and one interception last season. He also recovered three fumbles, two of which went for touchdowns. 

“We’ve got a lot of guys, it will be a little different plan if Tavon’s not there, in terms of playing more guys in the slot than we normally would’ve,” Harbaugh said.

Jones, originally a second-round draft pick of the Patriots in 2016, played 10 games in 2016 before a torn ACL and meniscus ended his 2017 campaign. 

He bounced between New England and Baltimore last season, twice, before settling into his role with the Ravens last year. He played in 13 total games, 11 of which were with Baltimore. 

As for this preseason, he’s registered six total tackles and an interception that went for a touchdown. He saw the majority of his work this preseason, though, against the Packers.

“I think I played hard, I think I played smart,” Jones said. “I got a little fatigued at the end, but overall, I think I’m holding my own out there, flying around and just trying to execute.”

Now, he’ll assuredly be in the mix at cornerback. Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr figure to be the team’s top cornerbacks, but Anthony Averett, Maurice Canady and the return of Iman Marshall could also play a part in how the Ravens fill the role.

Aside from the Young injury news, Harbaugh announced guard Marshal Yanda won’t play in the preseason, but will be ready for the season opener September 8 against the Dolphins. 

First-round pick Marquise Brown is on a much shorter trajectory, however, and could see playing time at the Ravens and Eagles joint practices Monday and Tuesday before the third preseason game of the season. 

That game won’t be a typical third preseason game, though, as Harbaugh told reporters quarterback Lamar Jackson won’t have much different of a workload than he did in the first two preseason games. He played 16 snaps against the Jaguars and 22 against the Packers. 

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Summer Guide: Top restaurants and bars to hit before or after Ravens games

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Summer Guide: Top restaurants and bars to hit before or after Ravens games

Whether you're a Ravens fan looking for a couple of drinks pre-game or a bite to eat post-game, it's important to know the local spots around M&T Bank Stadium. 

With the 2019-20 season only weeks away, it's time for a refresher of the best places to go before and after Ravens games. 

In no particular order, consider these: 

The Abbey Burger Bistro, 1041 Marshall St.

  • 0.4 miles from M&T Bank Stadium. 
  • Endless burger options, insane potato fries and extensive beer menu.
  • Watch out for the spicy pickle, it's crazy hot!

Blue Moon Too, 1024 Light Street

  • 0.5 miles from M&T Bank Stadium. 
  • Best breakfast in Baltimore!
  • Perfect place to fuel up before hitting a Ravens game.

Pickles Pub, 520 Washington Blvd.

  • 0.5 miles from M&T Bank Stadium. 
  • Famous for its atmosphere before and after Orioles and Ravens games.
  • It's got great specialty sandwiches, burgers and a list of craft brews.

Shakers Fine Spirits & Wine Lounge, 737 Carroll Street

  • 0.4 miles from M&T Bank Stadium. 
  • Perfect for a post-game drink.
  • Quieter ambiance, big list of mixed drinks and wines.

Spoons, 24 E. Cross Street

  • 0.5 miles from M&T Bank Stadium. 
  • Famous for their eggs and breakfast/brunch.
  • Perfect before a Ravens game.

Pratt Street Ale House, 206 W. Pratt Street

  • 0.6 miles from M&T Bank Stadium. 
  • Indoor/outdoor seating with a strong beer selection.
  • Great for before or after a Ravens game.

SoBo Cafe, 6 W. Cross St

  • Famous for neighborhood comfort food like Mac n' Cheese and Chicken Pot Pie.
  • Takes reservations, perfect outing before a Sunday game.

Bookmakers Cocktail Club, 31 East Cross Street

  • 0.5 miles from M&T Bank Stadium. 
  • 400 types of whiskey, rye, and bourbon.
  • Old-fashioned ambiance, perfect for a pre-game drink.

Fat Larry's Cheesesteaks and Hoagies, 1026 S. Charles St

  • 0.4 miles from M&T Bank Stadium. 
  • Massive sandwiches to hold you down during Ravens games.
  • Referred to as a "hidden gem" by Baltimore natives.

Sliders Bar and Grill, 504 Washington Blvd.

  • 0.5 miles from M&T Bank Stadium. 
  • Deep-rooted history with the Orioles and Baltimore.
  • Great snackable food for before or after a Ravens game.
  • Down the street from Pickles Pub.

 

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