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Kruger delivers for Ravens

Outside linebacker Paul Kruger sacks Colts quarterback Andrew Luck in the second half of the Ravens' 24-9 playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts in Baltimore Sunday.
Outside linebacker Paul Kruger sacks Colts quarterback Andrew Luck in the second half of the Ravens' 24-9 playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts in Baltimore Sunday. (DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTO, Carroll County Times)

BALTIMORE - Tormenting Indianapolis Colts right tackles Winston Justice and Bradley Sowell with an impressive combination of speed and power, Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Paul Kruger was a constant presence in the Colts' backfield.

Kruger finished Sunday's 24-9 victory against Indianapolis with four tackles, 2 1/2 sacks, five quarterback hits and a forced fumble. He also had a deflection in coverage.

"I thought he played well," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. "I saw him get to the quarterback a whole bunch. He had a bunch of quarterback hits. He had [the] 2 1/2 sacks. He played tremendously well. Paul is having a great year."

And the performance served as a continuation of what has been a breakout season - or really a breakout last two months - for Kruger, a second-round pick of Baltimore in 2009 who's in the midst of the final year of his rookie contract.

Kruger led the Ravens with nine sacks during the regular season - 7 1/2 of which came during the last eight games.

Add in the 2 1/2 sacks Sunday and Kruger now has 10 sacks since Nov. 11.

Kruger had just 6 1/2 sacks in his first three NFL seasons, although he did tally 5 1/2 as a situational pass rusher last season.

"That dude's making money, man," Baltimore safety Bernard Pollard said of Kruger. "He's a player. ... That guy is playing ball. Krug's setting things up, and I'm so proud of him. To step up the way he's been stepping up, and come in and help his team out, it's truly been phenomenal. I'm just excited for him."

Kruger's 2 1/2 sacks Sunday rank as the second-most in Ravens single-game playoff history.

And aided by the fourth-year outside linebacker, the Ravens limited a potent Colts offense to just nine points, including just three in the second half.

But now, Kruger and Baltimore prepare to face a Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos attack that ranked second in the AFC in passing offense during the regular season.

Manning threw for 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns while the Broncos' offensive line yielded an AFC-low 21 sacks.

Manning was sacked twice amid Denver's 34-17 win over the Ravens Dec. 16, but he threw for 204 yards and a touchdown while completing 17 of his 28 pass attempts.

"It was a great day [Sunday]," Kruger said. "All the guys played well, and now we're just looking forward to next week."

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