BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Ravens wanted one long final ride for Ray Lewis.
They also wanted Denver. They got both.
Having disposed of Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts, they now face a far more imposing challenge — Peyton Manning and the streaking Broncos.
Anquan Boldin set a franchise record with 145 yards receiving, including the clinching touchdown in the Ravens’ 24-9 victory Sunday over the Colts in an AFC wild-card game. The win delays star linebacker Lewis’ retirement for at least another week as Baltimore (11-6) heads to top-seeded Denver (13-3) next Saturday.
The visiting Broncos beat the Ravens, 34-17, three weeks ago.
“I wanted Denver,” Boldin said, “because they beat us.
And he wanted the Broncos because it prolongs the Ravens’ pursuit of their first NFL title since the 2000 season.
“I came to Baltimore to win a championship,” Boldin said. “We all did.”
Lewis, who made 13 tackles Sunday, ended his last home game in Baltimore at fullback, of all things, for the final kneel-down. He then went into a short version of his familiar dance before being mobbed by teammates.
He followed with a victory lap, his right arm, covered by a brace, held high in salute to the fans.
“My only focus was to come in and get my team a win. Nothing else was planned,” the 37-year-old Lewis said.
The loss ended the Colts’ turnaround season in which they went from 2-14 to the playoffs in coach Chuck Pagano’s first year in Indianapolis (11-6). Pagano missed 12 weeks while undergoing treatment for leukemia and returned last week.
Luck, the Colts’ rookie quarterback, never seemed to get comfortable, being sacked three times.
“It’s great making the playoffs, but you can’t make mistakes and expect to beat a playoff team like we did,” said Luck.
As for the Ravens, quarterback Joe Flacco now has won at least one postseason game in all five of his pro seasons, the only quarterback to do it in the Super Bowl era.
His main target Sunday was Boldin, who had receptions of 50 and 46 yards, plus his 18-yard TD catch on a floater from Flacco in the corner of the end zone with 9:14 to go.
Baltimore overcame the first two lost fumbles of the season by Ray Rice thanks to backup halfback Bernard Pierce, who rescued Rice with a 43-yard burst that led to Boldin’s touchdown.
Flacco also connected with Dennis Pitta for a 20-yard TD and rookie Justin Tucker made a 23-yard field goal.