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Ravens faced obstacles in return to AFC title game

Tuesday - 1/15/2013, 4:23pm  ET

In a photo taken with a fisheye lens, Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis celebrates after the Ravens beat the Denver Broncos 38-35 in overtime of an AFC divisional playoff NFL football game, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, in Denver. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) -- Getting back to the AFC championship was no small feat for the Baltimore Ravens, who overcame an assortment of injuries and obstacles to again move within one victory of reaching the Super Bowl.

Thirteen defensive players with starting experience were sidelined during the regular season, including standout linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs, cornerback Lardarius Webb and tackle Haloti Ngata. Two dozen different players started at least one game on defense, and only two -- safety Ed Reed and cornerback Cary Williams -- began all 16.

After a 9-2 start, the Ravens lost four of their last five in the regular season.

Yet here they are, facing New England again Sunday in the AFC title game.

Ngata says, "I don't think a lot of people expected us to be here."


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