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Ravens lead Colts 17-9 after 3 quarters

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Ravens lead Colts 17-9 after 3 quarters

BALTIMORE (AP) Joe Flacco's 20-yard TD pass to Dennis Pitta and two long completions to Anquan Boldin lifted the Baltimore Ravens to a 17-9 lead over the Indianapolis Colts through three quarter of Sunday's AFC wild-card game.

Flacco connected with Boldin on receptions of 50 and 46 yards in the third period. The first didn't lead to a score, but the second got Baltimore to the Indy 15. After a penalty, Pitta slipped free in the flat to take a short pass and score.

The Colts came back with a 15-play, 72-yard drive. But as in the first half, they sputtered and Adam Vinatieri kicked a field goal, this one from 26 yards.

After a scoreless first quarter marked by sloppiness on both sides, Baltimore took a 10-6 halftime lead.

Ray Rice broke free for a 47-yard gain on a screen pass, setting up Vonta Leach's 2-yard TD run. The Pro Bowl backfield was bolstered by the kick returns of another Pro Bowl player, Jacoby Jones.

Vinatieri's 47-yard field goal late in the second quarter and his 52-yarder as the half ended gave Indianapolis its points at halftime.

In between, Rice, who earlier lost a fumble, broke free over the middle on a short pass, got a superb block from wide receiver Torrey Smith and got to the Indy 2.

Leach surged in on the next play.

Vinatieri, who knows something about postseason kicks - he made two Super Bowl-winning field goals with New England - matched rookie Justin Tucker's 23-yarder with his first kick with 2:25 to go in the half.

After a scoreless first quarter that included one turnover by each team, Baltimore moved 66 yards in 10 plays, including 37 yards rushing by backup halfback Bernard Pierce. Tucker made it 3-0.

Early in the second quarter, Ravens star linebacker Ray Lewis dropped a potential interception, which drew a huge groan from the crowd. Lewis has announced he will retire when Baltimore's playoff run ends.

Jones, who had 94 yards on kick returns in the half, got the Ravens going early with a 34-yard punt runback down the left sideline. A 24-yard pass to Ed Dickson brought Baltimore close, but Rice fumbled at the Colts 11.

Indianapolis then put together an impressive drive to the Baltimore 30 before rookie quarterback Andrew Luck was stripped of the ball by Paul Kruger, the Ravens' leader in sacks. Pernell McPhee recovered, but Flacco nearly threw an interception three plays later and the Ravens had to punt.

The visitors were introduced before the game as Chuck Pagano and the Indianapolis Colts, and the former Ravens defensive coordinator received warm applause from the fans. Pagano left before this season for Indianapolis, and missed 12 games while undergoing treatment for leukemia.

When a helmetless Lewis emerged from the tunnel during introductions, nearly everyone in M&T Bank Stadium stood and cheered his dance, cameras and cellphones taking photos of Baltimore's most popular player.

Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was hospitalized with an undisclosed illness Sunday morning, and was not at the game. The team said he was doing well, and quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen was calling the plays in Arians' absence.

Arians went 9-3 while taking over for Pagano.

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The Ravens appear to have their entire coaching staff returning for the 2020 season

The Ravens appear to have their entire coaching staff returning for the 2020 season

While the Ravens roster will likely remain mostly together for the 2020 regular season, it appears the coaching staff will stay entirely intact, too. 

After both coordinators, Greg Roman and Don “Wink” Martindale, had interviews with the Browns and Giants, respectively, those jobs were filled by Kevin Stefanski and Joe Judge. 

And more recently, quarterbacks coach James Urban and tight ends coach Bobby Engram were requested for interviews by the Eagles. Harbaugh said both Engram and Urban pulled out of the running and weren’t interested.

“It looks like our staff is going to stay together,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I can tell you that. I’m not saying anything couldn’t happen; there are always things brewing for a certain period of time.”

The Ravens have every offensive starter from the divisional playoff game under contract for next season, and now appear to have the offensive coordinator and all of the position coaches back on-board for another run too. The Ravens set a franchise record with 531 points, led by Lamar Jackson.

Things are still fluid, as a job opportunity for anyone on the staff can pop up out of the blue. But for now, the Ravens look like they’ll run the entire operation back for another go at a Super Bowl.

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John Harbaugh defends Lamar Jackson's playoff performance

John Harbaugh defends Lamar Jackson's playoff performance

Coach John Harbaugh, just six days after his team’s disappointing 28-12 loss to the Titans in the AFC playoffs, has already had to defend his quarterback.

Faced with some criticism after Jackson finished 31-of-59 passing, and three total turnovers, Harbaugh mentioned how far Jackson has come in the last year — which also ended in an early playoff loss at home.

“It’s really interesting to look at Lamar Jackson, because look at the progress he made in the last year,” Harbaugh said Friday. “Because the same question, I think you might have asked it last year, how is he going to get better going forward? And he did a good job, right? He’s 23 years old. He’s younger than Joe Burrow. So, he has a pretty good head start right now.”

Jackson is now 0-2 in the playoffs with a 19-3 regular season record. 



He’s likely the MVP this season after he passed for more than 3,000 yards and rushed for 1,000 yards, setting the single-season rushing record for a quarterback along the way. He led the NFL in passing touchdowns and carried the most prolific offense in the league to a league-best 14-2. 

Harbaugh isn’t worried that his quarterback, who is just 23-years-old, hasn’t found his playoff success yet.

“The Manning brothers combined to, they had five losses in their first five playoff games before they won one,” Harbaugh explained. (Joe) Montana, (Steve) Young and (Brett) Favre didn’t start a playoff game until their third season, (Drew) Brees and (Troy) Aikman, until their fourth season, and (Aaron) Rodgers until his fifth season.”

After the season ended, Harbaugh added that Jackson went to his office to discuss the offseason and what he needed to do to improve. 

While Harbaugh and the offensive coaching staff had a plan for Jackson to improve, Jackson “nailed” each and every single critique that the coaches had laid out for him.

“I’m really confident in Lamar and his understanding the things he needs to do to get better, and that he’s going to work really hard to keep building himself up as a player,” Harbaugh said.

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