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Peyton Manning throws perfect pass to Brandon Stokely to bring Broncos-Ravens to 14-14 at end of first quarter

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

(USAT Sports Images)

There have been just two times in NFL playoff history that a first quarter ended with a 14-14 tie until today's game between the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens. The Broncos started the scoring with a 90-yard punt return from Trindon Holliday, and Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco responded with a perfect rainbow throw to Torrey Smith for a 59-yard touchdown to even things up. Corey Graham then put the Ravens up with a 39-yard pick-six of a Peyton Manning throw that was deflected.

Manning, as usual, was undeterred by that bit of bad fortune. The Broncos ate up more than five minutes of clock on a long drive that ended with a wonderful 15-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley. Stokley and Eric Decker set Baltimore's defense up with the "Levels" concept, forcing different tiers to the coverage. Stokley ran to the right side of the end zone, and brought in Manning's throw on a nice little pump fade to even things up.

[Also: How did Ray Lewis go from murder suspect to NFL royalty?]

Flacco was 6 of 8 for 103 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter, while Manning was 5 of 9 for 69 yards, a touchdown, and a pick. At this rate, we could see one of these teams put a 50-burger up on the other.

On January 1, 1967, the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys had a 14-all tie at the end of the first quarter in a game that the Packers won to go on to Super Bowl I. The Packers and Seattle Seahawks had a similar first quarter in January of 2008, before Green Bay went on to beat the stuffing out of Seattle, 42-20.

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