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Instant Analysis: Ravens take solid first step in playoff run

4:55 PM EST, January 6, 2013

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Baltimore Sun staffers analyze the Ravens' 24-9 win over the Indianapolis Colts.

Jeff Zrebiec, reporter: The talk after the game will center around Ray Lewis, and he played well and deserves that much for what he has meant to the city and the franchise. But the Ravens won this game because Joe Flacco and Anquan Boldin took it over. Boldin has been clutch for the Ravens and he showed his toughness again. The Ravens certainly will be huge underdogs next week, but that doesn't matter now. They should enjoy this win. Winning playoff games in five straight seasons is no easy accomplishment.

Matt Vensel, reporter/blogger: Inspired by Ray Lewis, the defense deserves praise for making life difficult for rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and the Colts. The Ravens held the Colts to a pair of field goals in the first half before the offense started to get it going after halftime. Joe Flacco had a strong second half, aided big-time by a few tough, contested catches by Anquan Boldin. Overall, Joe Flacco was OK, but he has to play a lot better to beat Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

Edward Lee, reporter: The Ravens sent Ray Lewis out of M&T Bank Stadium on a high note. The defense -- perhaps energized by the return of the 13-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker -- made Andrew Luck look like the rookie he is, and the offense woke up in the second half to outscore Indianapolis, 14-3. The Ravens will need to bottle this performance if they have any hope of upending the top-seeded Denver Broncos.

Aaron Wilson, reporter: Despite two uncharacteristic lost fumbles by Ray Rice and a sloppy first half by Joe Flacco, the Ravens advanced to the AFC divisional round against the Denver Broncos behind the strength of Flacco's resurgent second half. Anquan Boldin caught five passes for a franchise playoff record 145 receiving yards on five receptions with one touchdown. In an emotional game with the return of middle linebacker Ray Lewis from a torn right triceps, the defense contained talented Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck through nearly constant pressure provided by Paul Kruger (2 1/2 sacks, one forced fumble) and a key late interception by Cary Williams.

Peter Schmuck, columnist: The Ravens and fans gave Ray Lewis a nice M&T Bank Stadium sendoff, but the game itself wasn't all about Ray. It was about Flacco and Anquan Boldin playing catch all day and Paul Kruger showing why he led the Ravens in sacks during the regular season. The Ravens need to be more efficient in Denver, but they got the postseason off to an uplifting start.

Kevin Cowherd, columnist: On an emotional day for the Ravens, they got great individual performances from a number of players, notably Anquan Boldin and Paul Kruger, to earn a date with the Denver Broncos next weekend. The Ravens coaches spent all week warning their players not to let Ray Lewis' impending retirement distract them from the central task at hand, which was beating the Indianapolis Colts. And the Ravens heeded the warning. No, it wasn't a great all-around game for the Ravens, but it was a solid win, which is all that matters this time of year.

Ron Fritz, sports editor: The Ray Lewis Farewell Tour moves to Denver now, where Peyton Manning, one of the Ravens’ toughest opponents, awaits. After seeing how sloppy the Ravens played on offense Sunday — and the way Manning carved up the Ravens’ defense in Week 15 — you have to believe the Broncos will be heavy favorites. That might be just the way the Ravens want it.

Mike Preston, columnist: Big plays were the difference in the Ravens' win over the Colts.