Graham picks off Manning, Broncos

Graham picks off Manning, Broncos
January 12, 2013, 11:45 pm
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Ray Lewis: 'Probably one of the greatest victories in Ravens history'

Cornerback Corey Graham's signing with the Ravens in March didn't move the needle a whole lot, but it has proved to be one of the most important offseason acquisitions the Ravens made.

Graham played a leading role in the Ravens' remarkable 38-35, overtime win at Denver in the AFC Divisional Round on Saturday, returning one interception for a touchdown and then making another interception in overtime to set up the game-winning field goal. On a game filled with big plays, Graham had a hand in two of the biggest.

In the first quarter, Graham grabbed a tipped ball that had glanced off the hands of Broncos receiver Eric Decker, who was being draped by Chykie Brown. Graham raced untouched 39 yards for a touchdown to give the Ravens a 14-7 lead.

"It came right to me," Graham said. "It was just one of those plays  being in the right spot."

Graham, who had two interceptions in the regular season, then grabbed his second of the game in overtime, grabbing an underthrown pass from Peyton Manning intended for Brandon Stokley at the Broncos' 45-yard line.  Six plays later, Justin Tucker drilled a 47-yard field goal to give the Ravens the remarkable win.

Graham, a fifth-round draft pick of the Bears in 2007, had played five seasons for the Bears before being joining the Ravens in March. His signing came on the same day the Ravens re-signed Brendon Ayanbadejo and signed Sean Considine, and like those two, Graham was viewed primarily as a special teams upgrade.

Graham, though, said all along that he hoped to play corner as well, and especially after Lardarius Webb suffered a season-ending knee injury, Graham got his chance.

Graham started the final eight games and finished the season with 54 tackles on defense and another half-dozen on special teams.

Basking in the Ravens' win at Denver and his imminent second trip to a conference championship game -- he was with the Bears when they lost the NFC Championship to Green Bay in 2010 -- Graham said his decision to join the Ravens was "the best decision I ever made in my life. Well, one of the best. ... Marrying my wife is probably the best.

"I knew from the beginning it was a great decision," Graham said. "(John) Harbaugh gives guys a chance to come out here and play. He told me before I signed here that if I deserved to play here that I would, and he's a man of his word. He's given me an opportunity to play and that's all I've asked for."

 

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