Colts
Ravens
15 - 6 Final
  for this game

Vinatieri, defense lift Colts into AFC championship game

Jan 14, 2007 - 6:01 AM BALTIMORE (Ticker) -- Peyton Manning was unable to throw for a touchdown, but Adam Vinatieri was able to kick the Indianapolis Colts into the AFC championship game.

Continuing to stamp himself as the most clutch kicker in postseason history, Vinatieri booted five field goals and the Colts received another another huge performance from their defense in a 15-6 victory over the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional playoffs.

An integral part of three Super Bowl-winning teams with the New England Patriots, Vinatieri has kicked eight field goals in two playoff games with the Colts to lead them within a win of reaching the Super Bowl for the first time since the franchise moved from Baltimore 23 years ago.

"Adam's been exceptional all year," Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "You feel like you're going to make it every time when he goes out there. In games like this, it's necessary."

Third-seeded Indianapolis (14-4) will face either second-seeded San Diego or fourth-seeded New England next Sunday in the title game.

Vinatieri converted field goals of 23, 42, 51, 48 and 35 yards to tie a playoff record. He has 34 career postseason field goals, surpassing Gary Anderson for the most all-time.

"Baltimore is the No. 1 defense in the league. Points are at a premium with them," Vinatieri said. "It's hard to score on those guys. The way our defense played - they stepped up and kept them out of the end zone the whole time. Sometimes you win like that."

"He's awesome," Manning said. "He's done that his whole career."

While Vinatieri was his usual reliable self, the Colts' much-maligned defense outplayed the league's top unit during the regular season.

"We don't play their defense, we play their offense," said Colts middle linebacker Rob Morris, who registered 10 tackles. "They have a great defense, and I am happy we played as well as we did."

Cornerback Nick Harper forced a fumble and had a fourth-quarter interception for the Colts, who have allowed just one touchdown and 14 points during their playoff run. Indianapolis forced four turnovers overall.

"We had a great game plan. We knew that they were going to come out and run short routes," Harper said. "All we had to do was come out make tackles, and we did."

"Things just came together for us," Morris said. "The MO of this team is that someone has to pick up the other guys. Anytime you can hold the Ravens to just two field goals and no touchdowns, you have to feel good."

The defense and Vinatieri helped secure Manning's second trip to the conference title game in his illustrious nine-year career.

Manning completed just 15-of-30 passes for 170 yards and two interceptions against a defense that allowed a league-low 201 points during the regular season.

"I'm not sure if we ever won one before in the nine years I've played here without scoring a touchdown. My guess is no," Manning said. "You want to get touchdowns and it was frustrating to have to settle for field goals. But we saw how our defense was playing early, and we thought field goals would be enough - if we got enough of them."

Manning's biggest completion was a 14-yard connection to tight end Dallas Clark on 3rd-and-5 to the Baltimore 31 with 3:57 remaining and the Ravens out of timeouts.

The Colts' final drive, which started with 7:39 remaining, lasted until Vinatieri split the uprights from 35 yards with 23 seconds left.

It was a bitter end to the season for the second-seeded Ravens (13-4), who had Super Bowl aspirations after winning nine of their final 10 regular-season games.

"This football team is as disappointed as our fans are, which is matched tenfold by the players," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

The Colts also were able to frustrate the normally unflappable Steve McNair, who completed 18-of-29 passes for 173 yards and two interceptions, both in Indianapolis territory.

It marked the first playoff game without a touchdown since the Los Angeles Rams posted a 9-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1979 NFC championship game.

A record crowd of 71,162 turned out hoping to see the Ravens exact a measure of revenge against the franchise that sneaked out of the city to Indianapolis in March 1984.

However, the Ravens went three-and-out on their first possession, and Manning put together an 11-play, 49-yard drive that resulted in Vinatieri's 23-yard field goal midway through the first quarter.

On the Ravens' ensuing possession, Harper jarred the ball loose from tight end Todd Heap. Linebacker Gary Brackett recovered at the Baltimore 31.

Four plays later, Vinatieri drilled a 42-yard field goal to give the Colts a 6-0 lead with 5:36 left in the first quarter.

Matt Stover converted a 40-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter to get the Ravens on the board.

It looked like the momentum was going to continue to change when Pro Bowl free safety Ed Reed intercepted Manning on the Colts' ensuing possession.

Working against the Colts' cover-2 defense, McNair drove the Ravens deep into Colts territory. But on 3rd-and-goal from the 4, his pass over the middle intended for Heap was intercepted by strong safety Antoine Bethea.

"All I did was read the quarterback and I broke to the ball," Bethea said. "I got there first. It was a big play, but this game was more than one play. This was truly a group effort by our defense."

"Obviously, very disappointing at that point in the game to not come away with a touchdown and change the temperament of the game, and we didn't," Billick said.

Manning went to work, directing a 13-play, 65-yard drive. He had a pair of third-down completions to the reliable Marvin Harrison on the march.

Vinatieri converted a 51-yard kick as the ball skipped off the crossbar, giving the Colts a 9-3 advantage with 3:15 left in the half.

Using a no-huddle offense to quicken the pace, the Colts moved 54 yards on nine plays on the opening possession of the third quarter. Vinatieri connected on a 41-yard field goal.

The Colts were able to keep the Ravens honest defensively by pounding the ball with rookie Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes, who combined for 95 yards on 32 carries.

Ranked last in the league during the regular season after allowing 173 yards per game on the ground, the Colts were able to contain Jamal Lewis, who rushed for 53 yards on 13 carries. Indianapolis has surrendered 127 rushing yards in two games after shutting down Larry Johnson last week.

"The turnovers really killed us, I think more than anything," Lewis said. "It was the rushes, or the number of plays. You can't turn the ball over in this league."

The Ravens mounted their best drive late in the third quarter, moving 62 yards in 11 plays. McNair's 23-yard completion over the middle to Heap to the Colts 44 highlighted the march.

Stover drilled a 51-yard field goal 1:57 into the fourth quarter, pulling the Ravens within 12-6.

Following Reed's second interception of Manning, the Ravens reached the Colts 39 with under 11 minutes left. But on 3rd-and-9, McNair's pass over the middle for rookie Demetrius Williams was intercepted by Harper.








  • DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    INDIANAPOLIS 6 3 3 3 15
    BALTIMORE 0 3 0 3 6 FINAL
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: IND - FG, ADAM VINATIERI 23 YD, 6:56. Drive:
    11 plays, 49 yards in 4:43. Key
    plays: Addai 2-yard run on
    3rd-and-1 to Baltimore 43; Manning
    19-yard p

    Jan 13 7:36 PM


  • DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    FG IND
    ADAM VINATIERI 35 YD
    INDIANAPOLIS 15
    BALTIMORE 6 0:23 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Colts vs. RavensJan 13 7:34 PM
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  • DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    FG BAL
    MATT STOVER 51 YD
    INDIANAPOLIS 12
    BALTIMORE 6 13:03 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Colts vs. RavensJan 13 6:57 PM


  • DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    END, 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    INDIANAPOLIS 6 3 3 12
    BALTIMORE 0 3 0 3 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: IND - FG, ADAM VINATIERI 23 YD, 6:56. Drive:
    11 plays, 49 yards in 4:43. Key
    plays: Addai 2-yard run on
    3rd-and-1 to Baltimore 43; Manning
    19

    Jan 13 6:51 PM


  • DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    FG IND
    ADAM VINATIERI 48 YD
    INDIANAPOLIS 12
    BALTIMORE 3 10:57 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Colts vs. RavensJan 13 6:22 PM


  • DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    HALFTIME 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    INDIANAPOLIS 6 3 9
    BALTIMORE 0 3 3 HALFTIME
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: IND - FG, ADAM VINATIERI 23 YD, 6:56. Drive:
    11 plays, 49 yards in 4:43. Key
    plays: Addai 2-yard run on
    3rd-and-1 to Baltimore 43; Manning
    19-yar

    Jan 13 5:57 PM


  • DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    FG IND
    ADAM VINATIERI 51 YD
    INDIANAPOLIS 9
    BALTIMORE 3 3:15 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Colts vs. RavensJan 13 5:46 PM


  • DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    FG BAL
    MATT STOVER 40 YD
    INDIANAPOLIS 6
    BALTIMORE 3 14:56 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Colts vs. RavensJan 13 5:17 PM


  • DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    END, 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    INDIANAPOLIS 6 6
    BALTIMORE 0 0 END, 1ST QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: IND - FG, ADAM VINATIERI 23 YD, 6:56. Drive:
    11 plays, 49 yards in 4:43. Key
    plays: Addai 2-yard run on
    3rd-and-1 to Baltimore 43; Manning
    19

    Jan 13 5:14 PM


  • DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    FG IND
    ADAM VINATIERI 42 YD
    INDIANAPOLIS 6
    BALTIMORE 0 5:36 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Colts vs. RavensJan 13 4:58 PM


  • DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    FG IND
    ADAM VINATIERI 23 YD
    INDIANAPOLIS 3
    BALTIMORE 0 8:04 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Colts vs. RavensJan 13 4:46 PM
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