BALTIMORE - Three errant Joe Flacco passes that were nearly intercepted. Three drops by Ravens receivers, including two on would-be touchdowns. And just four completions for Flacco on his first 11 pass attempts.
It wasn't exactly an encouraging start for Flacco and Baltimore's passing game amid Sunday's AFC Wild Card matchup with the Indianapolis Colts.
But Flacco and the passing game came to life in the second half.
And behind two second half Flacco scoring passes, the Ravens cruised to a 24-9 victory against the Colts in sending future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis out with a win in the final home game of his storied career while also setting the stage for a divisional round showdown with the Denver Broncos Saturday in Denver.
"For us, we came out during the week and we wanted to show them a couple looks and see what we got early," Baltimore wide receiver Anquan Boldin said. "We kind of wanted to hold some things back until the second half. ... They played some things a little different than what we expected the first half. The second half, we made adjustments and came out and opened it up a little bit."
And despite the slow start, Flacco finished with 282 yards and two touchdowns. He had 174 yards and both scoring passes in the second half, including a 20-yarder to tight end Dennis Pitta that pushed the Ravens' lead to 17-6 midway through the third quarter. He added an 18-yard scoring pass to Boldin midway through the fourth quarter.
Flacco completed eight of his final 11 pass attempts after the 4-for-11 start and had eight passes that went for gains of 18 yards or longer.
"Joe made some tremendous throws," Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh said. "He made some throws under pressure, with two guys coming off the edge. He got hit a couple times, but he made the throws. I thought Joe threw the ball down field incredibly well. ... He played at a really high level."
As did Boldin.
The physical veteran receiver was held without a catch in the first half, but he finished with five grabs for a Ravens playoff record 145 yards and the touchdown.
"He went over the top. He went underneath. He just did what he's been doing all year long, and we just went to him," Baltimore fullback Vonta Leach said of Boldin.
Boldin had four catches that produced gains of 18 yards or more, including a 46-yard grab midway through the third quarter that helped set up Flacco's scoring pass to Pitta.
"Anquan always comes up big for us," Ravens tight end Ed Dickson said. "He's one of our leaders on offense and we follow his lead. For the most part, I thought we played a pretty good game all-around on offense. We just have a couple things that we need to clean up and get ready for next week."
Baltimore finished with 441 yards of total offense and 18 first downs.
Ray Rice had two fumbles, but he combined with rookie Bernard Pierce for 220 yards from scrimmage.
Pierce totaled 103 yards on 13 carries. Rice posted 70 yards on 15 carries and had a 47-yard catch-and-run late in the second quarter to set up a 2-yard Leach scoring run that helped the Ravens head into the half with a 10-6 lead.
"I think we did what we had to do to come out with this win," Leach said. "We put some points on the board. Anquan Boldin was huge for us today. So was the running game, which got going a little bit and opened up everything else. I mean, hey, when we go down the field and we're hitting on all cylinders like that it's going to be hard to beat us."
Indianapolis had success moving the ball as well - accumulating 419 yards and 25 first downs - but was limited to just three Adam Vinatieri field goals.
The Colts were held scoreless on four of their five second half possessions despite four of the five drives stretching into Baltimore territory.
Indianapolis rookie quarterback Andrew Luck threw for 288 yards, but he completed just 28 of his 54 pass attempts and tossed a key interception a little more than midway through the fourth quarter with Indianapolis trailing 24-9 and facing a fourth-and-1 at the Ravens' 18-yard line.
"We had some miscues. ... But, in the red zone, we stepped it up, which was huge," Baltimore safety Ed Reed said. "We kept them out of the end zone."
Lewis contributed with a team-high 13 tackles. He was playing in his first game since suffering a torn right triceps in mid-October.
The 37-year old announced Wednesday that he plans to retire following the conclusion of the season, meaning Sunday was his final time playing inside M&T Bank Stadium.
"That probably won't sink in [yet]," Lewis said. "You know what, the reason why it probably won't is because it's probably the last thing on my mind right now. Seriously, because the next thing on my mind is, as a team, we are poised to go do something. ... We made a commitment to each other, and that is to next week head to Denver to get a win."
And with the victory Sunday, Baltimore advances to face the Broncos in next week's divisional round game. Denver beat the Ravens 34-17 in Baltimore Dec. 16.
"Really looking forward to it," Boldin said of the rematch with the Broncos. "I was hoping we'd get Denver."