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Ravens will need more than emotion to beat Denver

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Ravens will need more than emotion to beat Denver

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) Fueled with emotion from the impending retirement of Ray Lewis and a fervent home crowd, the Baltimore Ravens dispatched the Indianapolis Colts in the opening round of the AFC playoffs.

It's going to take more than just unbridled enthusiasm to knock off the top-seeded Denver Broncos on Saturday.

In defeating Indianapolis 24-9 on Sunday, the Ravens (11-6) drew inspiration from a crowd that never stopped cheering before, during and after Lewis' final home game. The standout middle linebacker intends to retire after Baltimore's playoff run, and the Ravens had no intention of seeing Lewis end his 17-year career with a home loss.

``It had to have an impact. The emotions were real,'' coach John Harbaugh said Monday. ``It was tangible. We all felt it.''

Now, however, the Ravens take to the road to face the Broncos (13-3), who have won 11 straight - including a 34-17 rout in Baltimore on Dec. 16. The Ravens should have plenty of spirit left from Sunday, but Harbaugh isn't necessarily counting on it.

``There's probably an element that we'll carry forward because you're always building on what you are,'' he said. ``Hopefully we take all the things that happened and we take it into that game emotionally and carry it with us. But this is a new game. It's a whole new environment. It's a whole new situation for us. So I think the slate is wiped clean in that sense. This will be a new challenge for us.''

And what a challenge it is. Not only do the Broncos own the best record in the AFC, but they're coming off a bye and playing at altitude against a team they've already beaten handily. Oh, and there's also the matter of Peyton Manning, who's 2-0 lifetime against Baltimore in the postseason.

Manning vs. Ray Lewis with everything on the line. It doesn't get much better than that.

``They are always classic,'' Lewis said. ``It's just one of those chess matches. He knows me very well. I know him very well. ... But at the end of the day, it's not about me and me and Peyton. It's about their team against our team. I love our team right now.''

And the Ravens, in turn, love their leader. All the players, as well as the coaching staff, savored the once-in-a-lifetime scene at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.

``The crowd was incredible. It was one of those historic moments that anybody that was there is never going to forget,'' Harbaugh said. ``I was so proud of our fans, so pleased that we all have something that we will be able to talk to our kids and our grandkids about - a Baltimore football moment that's going to live on. That's kind of why you do this, to be part of moments like this.''

Lewis was in the middle of it all, playing for the first time in 12 weeks after being sidelined with a torn right triceps. He returned to lead the Ravens with 13 tackles and provided his usual unyielding leadership.

``He played well. He was physical at the point of attack, he did a good job in the pass game,'' Harbaugh said. ``He held up pretty well.''

When the Ravens faced Denver last month, the Broncos raced to a 31-3 lead and coasted to the finish. But Baltimore played that game without Lewis, safety Bernard Pollard, guard Marshal Yanda and tight end Ed Dickson. All will be available Saturday.

``It's got to be a positive,'' Harbaugh said. ``We're more full strength now than we've ever been all year. So it's the right time to be healthy, and I'm hoping those guys will have a big impact.''

In other news, the Ravens cut linebacker Sergio Kindle from the practice squad Monday. Kindle was the 43rd overall pick in the 2010 draft, but spent his entire rookie season on the reserve/non-football injury list after fracturing his skull while falling down a flight of stairs. He played in one game last year and one game this season.

``It was kind of mutually agreed upon between the two of us,'' Harbaugh said of the move. ``He's hoping for an opportunity somewhere where he can maybe take the next step.''

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Ravens safety DeShon Elliott likely out for the season with knee injury

Ravens safety DeShon Elliott likely out for the season with knee injury

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Just one game after losing a starting safety for the season with a knee injury, the Ravens lost another key contributor in the secondary. 

DeShon Elliott suffered a knee injury Sunday against the Bengals and will likely be out for the remainder of the season, coach John Harbaugh said. 

“I do have bad news with DeShon Elliott, it looks like he’s going to be out for the year, unfortunately,” Harbaugh said. “Just way worse than we thought it was going to be, doctors thought after the game. That’s preliminary, but it sounded like they were pretty confident that it wasn’t good.”

Elliott, a second-year pro out of Texas, was a sixth round pick in 2018, but missed the season with a broken forearm. 

He played in six games this season and registered six total tackles.

Elliott’s injury is the second season-ending injury to a safety in back-to-back weeks, as Tony Jefferson is out with a knee injury as well. 

Harbaugh said it was “very possible” the team could explore adding a player outside the organization to fill Elliott and Jefferson’s spot in the secondary.

Through the season, the Ravens have now lost Tavon Young, Jefferson and Elliott to season-ending injuries and are still without Jimmy Smith, who is out with an MCL sprain.

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Anquan Boldin retires as a Raven, the organization he always wanted to be with

Anquan Boldin retires as a Raven, the organization he always wanted to be with

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Anquan Boldin wanted to be a Raven just over a year before he actually became one. 

After Boldin and the Cardinals fell in the 2009 Super Bowl to the Steelers, Boldin and Ray Lewis sat at the Pro Bowl and talked about what they could do to get Boldin to Baltimore. 

“Me and Ray had a conversation poolside trying to figure out how I was going to get here and how we were going to make it happen,” Boldin recalled. “The only thing on his mind was, ‘We’ve got to beat Pittsburgh. Can you help us do that?’ I told him, ‘Get me there, I’ll take care of it.’” 

About 13 months after that conversation, Boldin was traded to the Ravens for third and fourth-round picks. He played three seasons in Baltimore from 2010 through 2012, where he won a Super Bowl with the team in the 2012 season. 

He registered 837, 887 and 921 yards, respectively, in his three seasons in Baltimore for 2,645 yards total. He also had 14 touchdowns, including one in Super Bowl XLVII. 

In the 2012 playoffs, Boldin had 380 yards on 22 receptions with four touchdowns as the Ravens' offense carried the team to a Super Bowl win. 

“This is the sixth guy that has retired a Raven, and five of them played for other teams,” former Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome said. “This organization does a very good job and it begins at the top with Steve.”

Over his 14-year NFL career, Boldin was a three-time Pro Bowler, 2003 Offensive Rookie of The Year and 2015 Walter Payton Man of The Year. He had 91 total touchdowns (including playoffs) and nearly 14,000 yards receiving —which places him 14th all-time. 

Boldin began his career in Arizona with the Cardinals before his three-year run in Baltimore. He was traded in 2013 to the 49ers and spent three years there before capping his career in 2016 with the Lions. 

“It’s definitely an honor to retire a Raven,” Boldin said. “I played for four different organizations, but there’s no other organization, I would say, that had an impact on myself and my family like this organization...I can truly say this organization, this community embraced us fully from the first day we got here.”

While everyone lauded his abilities in the locker room, coach John Harbaugh also praised his ability to make contested catches. In just three years, Boldin make a significant impact on the Ravens receiving corps.

“The fact that you want to retire a Raven is probably one of the biggest honors we’ve had around here,” Harbaugh said to Boldin. 

Boldin said an organization never embraced him like the Ravens did for his three years in the purple and black.

“We truly feel like we are Ravens for life,” Boldin said. “We appreciate you guys for accepting us.”

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