Heap lamentsrare fumble

One that got away


Free safety Ed Reed may be remembered for intercepting Colts quarterback Peyton Manning twice yesterday, but it's a near interception that may haunt Ravens fans the most.

Reed, who tied cornerback Chris McAlister for second on the team's all-time postseason interceptions list with three (Duane Starks leads with four), almost intercepted another Manning pass in the third quarter.


But linebacker Ray Lewis, who had dropped back in pass coverage, knocked down the ball before it could reach Reed, who appeared to have a clean shot at returning the would-be interception for a touchdown.

"A shot at it? It was right to me," Reed said with a laugh. "Ray didn't know I was right there. He's being the great player that he is. Instinct [says] knock the ball down. I wouldn't expect him to play that any different."


Tight end Todd Heap's fumble after his first reception of the game in the first quarter was his first miscue this season. Heap had caught 73 passes -a team high - without fumbling.

Although Heap was originally ruled down by contact, Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy challenged the ruling, and after reviewing the video, referee Bill Leavy agreed, overturning the call and giving the ball to the Colts at the Ravens' 31-yard line.

"I thought it was close," Heap said of the fumble, which led to kicker Adam Vinatieri's second field goal of the game. "That was definitely frustrating for me. ... I think [Leavy] came up to me after the play and said it was within an inch. I thought I was down, but obviously, the video showed otherwise."

Stover keeps a leg up

Seventeen years in the league hasn't sapped kicker Matt Stover of the strength in his right leg or the knowledge of his limits.


Stover, who is meticulous for determining his maximum distance on field goals prior to a game, converted a 51-yard field goal with 13:03 left in the fourth quarter.

The field goal -- the longest of his career in the postseason, surpassing his previous high of 47 yards against the New York Giants in the Super Bowl of January 2001 -- came after coach Brian Billick asked Stover if he thought he could make it from that distance with the Ravens trailing 12-3.

"It's the beginning of the fourth quarter, and we have to get points," Stover said. "I hit it from there in pre-game. I just said let's go because I knew we needed to get that three to get us within a touchdown."

Flynn left frustrated

Ravens center Mike Flynn, the second-most senior member of the offensive line after left tackle Jonathan Ogden, took the loss hard. In his ninth year in the NFL, he's not sure how many shots he has left at a second Super Bowl ring.

"Going 13-3, knowing how long I've been in the league, you don't get too many opportunities like this," Flynn said. "It's frustrating. The young guys won't see it, but somebody like me, you only get so many chances.


"I'm not going to worry about next year right now. I'm going to think about this and figure out what happened."

Extra points

The Ravens' bad timing continued after the game. By the time Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley got to the locker room to congratulate Brian Billick on a good season, the Ravens' coach had left. ... The sack of Peyton Manning by Kelly Gregg and Adalius Thomas with 10:16 left in the fourth quarter helped the Ravens extend their streak of games with at least one sack to 22. ... Former Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr., elected to baseball's Hall of Fame last week, was present during the pre-game coin toss. ... The Colts were not mentioned by name, as they were consistently referred to as "Indianapolis" by the public address announcer during the game. Even the scoreboard, which usually uses the opposing team's mascot, referred to the visitors as "Ind." ... The announced attendance of 71,162 is a Baltimore NFL record. ... The Ravens deactivated cornerbacks Jamaine Winborne, Derrick Martin and David Pittman, wide receivers Devard Darling and Clarence Moore, running back P.J. Daniels, fullback Nick Luchey and offensive lineman Mike Kracalik.

Sun reporter Paul McMullen contributed to this article.