Boldin makes immediate impact for Ravens

It didn't take long for Anquan Boldin to make his presence known.

The first ball quarterback Joe Flacco threw in the wide receiver's direction ended up as a 21-yard completion that led to a Billy Cundiff 48-yard field goal and a seven-point lead that the Ravens eventually turned into a 20-13 win against the Houston Texans Sunday in an AFC divisional playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium.

It was quite an entrance for Boldin, who was playing in his first game after sitting out the final two contests of the regular season due to surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus in his knee.

"Yeah, I felt good," Boldin said. "I went to Joe before the game and told him, 'If you see me out there in one-on-one coverage, just throw it up. I'll make a play.' Fortunately, he was able to do that."

Boldin, who led the offense in receiving with 887 yards, led the Ravens against Houston in yards (73) and tied running back Ray Rice for the team lead in receptions (four).

His 10-yard touchdown grab gave the team a 17-3 advantage with 1:08 left in the opening frame.

"[H]e brings that energy," said Flacco, who had completed just seven of 26 passes to wide receivers in Boldin's absence. "Obviously, he was able to catch a couple balls early on and move the chains a little bit for us. I think any time you get a guy back like that, everybody on our offense sees that and gains confidence from it and gains a little bit more energy from it."

Now Boldin, who played for the 2008 Arizona Cardinals team that advanced to Super Bowl XLIII, gets a chance to help the Ravens get to Super Bowl XLVI.

"For me, my vision is much bigger than this game," he said. "I came here for one reason and one reason only — that's to win a championship. We felt like Houston was in our way today, and we wanted to go out and make enough plays to win."

Harbaugh spoke to brother after Saturday win

Ravens coach John Harbaugh confirmed that he spoke to his brother Jim after the San Francisco 49ers outlasted the New Orleans Saints, 36-32, Saturday evening.

"We talked last night after the game," John Harbaugh said in his post-game comments. "He was pretty happy. I was happy for him. But I couldn't get quite as happy as he was. He was fired up, and I think he was really proud of his team. I'm proud of him. I'm proud of Jim. I'm proud of his staff over there. But I haven't been thinking that much about him, to be honest with you."

Birk shoots down CBS report

Prior to Sunday's contest, former NFL general manager and current CBS Sports analyst Charlie Casserly said that Matt Birk would retire after this season, his 14th in the league and third with the Ravens.

Birk, who was recently named the team's Walter Payton Man of the Year, disputed the report.

"I don't know. It could be 100 percent true or it could be zero percent true, and there's probably no in-between," said Birk, who at 35 is the second-oldest player on the roster behind inside linebacker Ray Lewis. "No, I haven't made that decision yet, and I don't know Charlie Casserly. I mean, I know who he is, but he didn't talk to me, and that's all I can say."

Wilson makes impact

As the blocking tight end and a special-teams contributor, Kris Wilson doesn't usually get many chances on offense.

But the eight-year veteran took advantage when he caught a one-yard pass on a play-action fake by Flacco to give the Ravens a 7-3 lead in the first quarter.

"I try to make a play every time I get an opportunity," said Wilson, who made his first touchdown grab since Jan. 17, 2010 in an AFC divisional contest for the San Diego Chargers. "I came off and I blocked the D-end, and once I saw the corner go up to play Joe, I kind of snuck in behind him. Joe found me and made a play."

Jones bails out Ravens

The running joke in the press box inside M&T Bank Stadium was that Houston punt returner Jacoby Jones could have been named the Ravens' Most Valuable Player.

It was Jones' ill-timed decision to attempt to field a Sam Koch punt on the bounce that led to Jones muffing the punt and rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith recovering the fumble at the Texans' 2-yard line. Three plays later, Flacco found Wilson for the touchdown.

"I was really trying to hurry and grab it and get down, but it hit off my face mask, and I let it roll," Jones said. "Of course, I'm upset about it. It's a turnover. That's a play we didn't make, and they went down and scored. The defense played lights-out, and I think that touchdown they scored is off me."

E. Reed downplays ankle injury

Free safety Ed Reed intercepted his eighth pass in 10 postseason contests and knocked down four passes, but he injured his left ankle when he landed on it awkwardly after his final pass breakup.

But Reed said the injury was minor, adding, "I rolled my ankle, pinched it real bad. I was able to walk off at the end, once it was all said and done."

Defensive tackle Arthur Jones suffered a leg injury, but his injury is not considered serious.

End zone

Bill Lasley and his 12-year-old son, Ayden, attended Sunday's game with tickets left by Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs. "The seats were phenomenal. We were so close to the field," Lasley said. "What an amazing experience for Ayden. This is something that will live in his heart forever." Lasley's son was reportedly reprimanded last week by his school for wearing a "Ball So Hard" sweat shirt — an homage to Suggs' fictional alma mater — to Southampton Middle School in Harford County. … The Ravens are 3-0 this season and 8-0 since 1998 when leading by at least 14 points after the first quarter, according to ESPN. … With field goals of 48 and 44 yards Sunday, kicker Billy Cundiff went 19-of-19 at M&T Bank Stadium this season. … The Ravens were not penalized once against Houston, marking the first time the club had finished a playoff game without incurring a penalty. The previous best had been two penalties against the Kansas City Chiefs in last year's AFC wild card round. … The Ravens deactivated cornerbacks Chris Carr and Chykie Brown, outside linebacker Sergio Kindle and four more rookies in wide receiver Tandon Doss, running back Anthony Allen, linebacker Josh Bynes and guard Justin Boren. … Houston deactivated quarterback Jeff Garcia, wide receiver Jeff Maehl, cornerback Brandon Harris, free safety Troy Nolan, guard Thomas Austin, tackle Andrew Gardner and tight end Garrett Graham.


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