Lewis’ career goes on as Ravens head to fourth AFC championship

Ray Lewis’ career will go on for at least one more week.

The Ravens overcame four seven-point deficits and five ties to earn a 38-35 double-overtime win over the top-seeded Broncos in the AFC divisional playoffs Saturday in Denver.

The Ravens’ first overtime playoff contest lasted more than four hours and was the fourth-longest game in postseason history.

At full strength, Baltimore was more than a tougher match-up for the Broncos than a month ago, when Denver steamrolled the Ravens 34-17 as part of its regular season-ending 11-game winning streak.

So the Ravens went into the contest a significant underdog.

Now Baltimore will travel to face either the New England Patriots or Houston Texans next Sunday in its second consecutive AFC championship appearance and fourth overall. The Patriots and Texans meet Sunday at 4:30 p.m. Baltimore beat New England and lost to Houston during the regular season.

The heroes in the Ravens’ upset victory were cornerback Corey Graham and quarterback Joe Flacco.

Graham made two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown in the first quarter and setting up Justin Tucker’s game-winning 47-yard field goal with the second.

One year after outplaying Tom Brady in a heartbreaking AFC championship loss, Flacco outdueled Peyton Manning. Flacco, who becomes a free agent at the end of the season, went 18-for-34 for 331 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

Manning passed for 290 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions while also losing a fumble.

Lewis contributed to keeping his career alive one more week by making a game-high 17 tackles. The 17-year veteran linebacker was in tears in a postgame interview on CBS, applauding his teammates for helping to keep his final run going.

To get there, Baltimore needed a minor miracle to force the extra session.

Trailing 35-28 with no timeouts and 1:09 to go, the Ravens got the ball at their own 23-yard line. Flacco scrambled seven yards on second down for third-and-3 from Baltimore’s 30.

And with Denver in a safe coverage situation, Jacoby Jones wriggled his way open past two defensive backs deep, and Flacco found him for a 70-yard tying touchdown.

The Ravens were able to outlast long odds, the first two special teams touchdowns they’ve allowed this season and the most points permitted in their playoff history.

Baltimore had never won a postseason game where it allowed more than 14 points.

Also, Manning’s winning streak against the Ravens was snapped at nine games, including playoffs.

Ray Rice contributed to the victory with 30 rushes for 131 yards and a touchdown. Torrey Smith added three receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns.

This one will easily go down as one of the best games in Ravens history and because it ended as a W, Lewis’ last run lives another day.