It took a second overtime period to determine a winner between the Broncos and the Ravens in Denver this evening, but when the dust settled, the Baltimore Ravens were the better team, and they'll be heading to either New England or Houston next weekend for the AFC conference title game.
The Ravens played a great game, taking advantage of turnovers by Peyton Manning, but that almost wasn't enough. Joe Flacco threw up a prayer with under a minute to go, and the ball was misplayed by a Broncos defender, giving the Ravens a tying touchdown on what should have been a routine pass defensed.
The biggest Broncos mistake, however, came late in the first overtime when Peyton Manning channeled his inter-Brett Favre, throwing across his body into coverage, and the Ravens were gifted an easy interception. From there, it took a simple field goal to send the Ravens to the conference title game.
The game gives those that like to criticize Peyton Manning as a playoff choke artist more ammunition. The Broncos were the heavy favorites, but Manning's mistakes (2 interceptions and 2 lost fumbles) kept the game close, and to the Ravens' credit, the Broncos paid dearly for those mistakes.
With the win, Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens will be able to watch tomorrow's game between the Texans and the Ravens knowing that they'll be waiting on the winner. It should also be noted that the Ravens could get another shot at the Patriots in the conference championship game. Last year, the Patriots defeated the Ravens after a would-be touchdown pass for the win was dropped in the endzone and Billy Cundiff missed a game tying field goal just a play later.