Boldin leads offense, Kruger paces D to send Ravens to divisional round

In the end, the Ravens’ slow start on offense and the significant chunk of yardage allowed on defense will be forgotten.

Baltimore put together a commanding performance in the wild card round to glide past the Indianapolis Colts 24-9 on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

Quarterback Joe Flacco recovered from a weak first half to go 12-for-23 for 282 yards and two touchdowns with a lot of help coming from Anquan Boldin.

The veteran wideout set a Ravens single-game postseason record with 145 receiving yards, all coming in the second half. Boldin finished with five catches, including the 18-yard touchdown that put the game away with 9:14 remaining.

Boldin also had deep catches of 50 and 46 yards.

“I just wanted to go out and give everything. I think everyone in the locker room wanted to make sure this wasn’t our last game,” Boldin said. “I think we all have a goal in mind, and we’re focused on that goal. The only way we’re going to get there is if we go out there and give our all on the field.”

Starting with the final possession of the first half, when the Ravens scored their first touchdown, the offense seemed to find its groove.

Baltimore finished with a franchise postseason-record 441 yards after recording just 188 in the first half. Looking deep downfield was the key to changing that over the final 30 minutes.

Flacco said the 47-yard screen pass to Ray Rice that set up the second-quarter touchdown started it.

“They were kind of sitting on us early. They were able to push a couple guys back, not get a ton of pressure, but push a couple guys back in my face and play pretty tight coverage early on,” Flacco said. “I think in the second half, we definitely had a little emphasis on stretching the field a little bit, and that started with Anquan Boldin obviously.”

Rice had a mixed performance, losing two fumbles while rushing for 70 yards in addition to his 47-yard reception.

Rookie Bernard Pierce led the Ravens with 103 rushing yards, reaching triple figures for the second time in three games. It was just the fifth 100-yard rushing game in the team’s playoff history.

Linebacker Paul Kruger led the defense with 2.5 sacks, second-most in one playoff game in Ravens history, after leading the team with nine sacks during the regular season.

He also had five quarterback hits, a forced fumble and a pass defended.

“I saw him get to the quarterback a whole bunch,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He played tremendously well. Paul is having a great year.”

The Baltimore defense didn’t stifle the Colts exactly, surrendering 419 yards, including 288 through the air from rookie Andrew Luck.

But the Ravens forced two turnovers and didn’t let Indianapolis reach the end zone.

“We played a great game defensively,” cornerback Cary Williams said. “It was all about want-to. ... We turned it up at the right time. We want to play our best football in the playoffs and today was an example of that. Hopefully we can move on and make plays next week.”

The Ravens improved to 11-7 all-time in the playoffs and Harbaugh became the first head coach in NFL history to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons.

So now Baltimore advances to face Peyton Manning and the top-seeded Denver Broncos on the road Saturday. Denver beat the Ravens 34-17 on Dec. 16 as part of it’s regular season-ending 11-game winning streak.

“Really looking forward to it. I was hoping we would get them ... just because we lost to them,” Boldin said.

Asked whether he thinks it’ll be a different story next week after the Broncos shut down the Ravens’ offense in December, Boldin replied, “We’ll make it different.”