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Ray Lewis not done yet as Ravens advance in the AFC playoffs

MARCUS HENRY Special to the AmNews | 1/11/2013, 5 p.m.
Ray Lewis not done yet as Ravens advance in the AFC playoffs

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis announcing his retirement at season's end was a big story, so much so that the networks made Lewis the focal point of most of their coverage.

Lewis had a fine game in Sunday's 24-9 win over the Colts in an AFC first-round playoff game. Turned out the game ball could have gone to another key player: veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin. The former Florida State star had five catches for a franchise playoff record 145 yards, including an 18-yard haul in the second half.

Why do we bring this up? Football is the ultimate team sport. Lewis is an all-time great linebacker who has been the heart and soul of his unit since his rookie season. But in today's NFL, a team has to be able to make big passing plays. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has come under much scrutiny for some off his playoff failures. He can thank Boldin for taking some of the heat off. Next for Boldin and the Ravens is a trip to Denver on Saturday to face Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Boldin is ready.

"I want Denver because they beat us. ...We'll make it different," Boldin told reporters.

Denver knocked off the Ravens 34-17 in Week 15. In the other AFC first-round game, the Texans may have finally gotten their swagger back after a 19-13 win over Cincinnati on Saturday. It was a win most expected.

The question is, has Houston gotten over its 42-14 thrashing at the hands of the Patriots in Week 14? New England humbled the Texans, who came into the game with an 11-1 record. The Texans will visit New England again on Sunday at 4:30 in a divisional-round playoff game.

"They know what they're doing in the playoffs,'' Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt told the Associated Press. "They've been here many times before. They know what it takes, so it's going to take everything we have, and we're really excited about the challenge."