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Holliday returns punt, kickoff for TDs vs. Ravens

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Holliday returns punt, kickoff for TDs vs. Ravens

DENVER (AP) The shortest player in the league turned in the biggest performance for the Denver Broncos.

And yet Trindon Holliday's record day still couldn't help his team beat the Ravens.

Holliday went 90 yards running back a punt the first time Denver touched the ball against Baltimore on Saturday. Then he returned the second-half kickoff 104 yards to become the first player to score on a kick and punt return in the same playoff game.

But the Broncos blew a late lead and lost 38-35 in double overtime in the divisional-round game.

And that overshadowed any accomplishment - big time.

``Oh, man, it was tough,'' Holliday said of walking off the field, knowing the season was over even though he returned two kicks for scores. ``It was tough to see that happen.''

The 5-foot-5 Holliday gained 248 yards on returns, the most in a postseason game. It also earned a healthy dose of respect from Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who's seen enough of Holliday to last quite a while.

``It was painful,'' Harbaugh said. ``We just didn't cover very well and they just blocked it really well and this guy, Trindon Holliday, he's a really great player. I've never seen anything like that.''

On his punt return, Holliday was barely touched as he sprinted down the right side of the field to the end zone, where a host of Broncos ran to greet him. Former Ravens returner Jermaine Lewis held the playoff punt return record of 88 yards against Pittsburgh on Jan. 20, 2002.

Holliday opened the second half by fielding the kick in the end zone, cutting left, slipping out of Chykie Brown's tackle and was on his way. On the sideline, Peyton Manning hopped up and down with every step Holliday took toward the end zone.

As soon as Holliday crossed the goal line, he spiked the football with authority and then posed for the cameras.

The previous record for a kickoff return was 102 yards by Atlanta's Eric Weems in 2010.

With those 248 return yards, Holliday surpassed the mark shared by Andre Coleman of San Diego on Jan. 29, 1995, in the Super Bowl, and Desmond Howard of Green Bay on Jan. 26, 1997, also in the Super Bowl. Each had 244 total return yards, and Howard was the MVP of that Super Bowl.

Holliday was assigned to the Broncos through waivers when he was let go by Houston in October.

A former track star at LSU, Holliday returned a kickoff 105 yards for a score at Cincinnati. The next week he scored on a punt return at Carolina.

Holliday sat out the final game of the regular season with an ankle injury. The time off did wonders and he returned to practice this week.

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Lamar Jackson's dual-threat dominance earns him another record-setting award

Lamar Jackson's dual-threat dominance earns him another record-setting award

Another week, another Lamar Jackson performance for the ages.

The second-year quarterback has already set numerous records in Baltimore, just 13 starts into his professional career.

Most of his record-book entries have come thanks to his legs. The QB is a prodigious rusher, one of the most talented running signal-callers in NFL history.

That talent helped earn him more honors after his whopping 152 rushing yards against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 6.

Jackson got started on the ground early, racking up 111 rushing yards in the first half alone. He became just the third quarterback in the modern era to finish with more than 150 rushing yards, and he was rewarded with the FedEx Ground Player of the Week award.

Jackson was the first quarterback in the 17-year history of the award to even be nominated, and now he becomes the first at his position to win it.

Of course, it hasn’t just been on the ground where Jackson has impressed.

He kicked off his 2019 with a bang, throwing for 324 yards and 5 touchdowns on just 20 pass attempts against the woeful Dolphins in Week 1. For his efforts, Jackson was named the Air Player of the Week.

Jackson becomes, you guessed it, the first player in NFL history to win both the Air and Ground versions of the award in the same season, and he managed it just five weeks apart.

He really is one of the most gifted, unique athletes in NFL history. As the Ravens’ tweet says, he is “one of a kind.”

At this rate, it would be a surprise if he doesn’t break a few more barriers the rest of this season and beyond.

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‘It’s like facing Steph Curry’: Ravens hope to slow down MVP candidate Russell Wilson

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‘It’s like facing Steph Curry’: Ravens hope to slow down MVP candidate Russell Wilson

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — If there’s one person in the Ravens locker room who knows Russell Wilson, it’s Earl Thomas. 

Thomas, who spent nine years in Seattle before he came to Baltimore this past offseason, had practiced against Wilson every day since he entered the league in 2012. 

Now, he’ll be one of the central figures on defense as Baltimore heads to Seattle to face Wilson and the Seahawks. And this year, Wilson has been better than ever. 

“Everything is predicated off the run game, and we also know that Russell can extend plays,” Thomas said. “That's when he kind of works his magic — when he plays backyard football. And his receivers do a great job of just melding with him and creating space, boxing guys out and creating leverages and coming up with big catches."

Through just six games, Wilson has thrown for 1,704 yards — a 4,544 yard pace — and 14 passing touchdowns with no interceptions. He’s also rushed for 151 yards and has three rushing scores. He’s also completing 72.5 percent of his passes. 

Despite being in an offense that runs the ball about 50 percent of the time, Wilson has excelled. Specifically, he’s been nearly untouchable outside the pocket. 

And when he’s under pressure and has to escape, he’s one of the league’s best. 

“It’s just like all the other quarterbacks we’ve played before,” Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale said. “You can say, ‘Keep him in the pocket.’ There’s times you think you have him in the pocket and he shakes you and he gets out of the pocket. He’s extending plays better than he ever has.”

The Ravens, who blitz as much as anyone in the NFL, will have to make the decision to try and contain Wilson in the pocket where he can pick apart the Ravens defense, or sit back and defend against the pass. Either way, there’s no good option.

“It's sort of like playing against Steph Curry in basketball, if you will,” Martindale said. “You can pick him halfcourt and he's going to try to drive by you or you can slack off and he's going to pull up and hit a three." 

The Ravens have their own, different, version of Wilson in Lamar Jackson, who the Ravens are hoping can simulate Wilson’s ability. 

But there are only a select number of players in the league that can do what Jackson and Wilson can do with a football in their hands.

"I think he's the only guy that I've seen do it pretty effortlessly, like Lamar does,” Marlon Humphrey said. “We always say we don't want to play Lamar, so I guess we're kind of playing a polished-up, couple-years-down-the-line Lamar. So, we definitely better get ready, because he definitely can do it all."

Against Wilson, the Ravens will have one of the toughest tasks in the NFL this season. Through six weeks, there hasn’t been a team that’s been able to slow him down. 

“Defensively, I'm sitting there watching Lamar, and I'm like, 'Oh, wow,'” Humphrey said. “So, I'm hoping that's not happening when I'm out there on defense with him (Wilson). But Russell, he really can get it done. I'm not really saying I'm a fan, but he's Russell Wilson. He’s a pretty big deal.”

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