By: Brian Troutman
It was a drive that smashed a thought – a thought felt on the field, felt before the game and even felt in the press box. It was a thought that the Ravens didn’t belong in the AFC Championship.
In the eyes of many, the game was over before the coin toss. Few gave the Baltimore Ravens a chance against the New England Patriots, including the Ravens.
Baltimore struggled to build momentum in the first half. Despite a long drive that took them down the field for their only score of the game, the offense could have had the same impact staying off the field. Fans that made the trip to the game wondered what happened to their team.
The team eventually morphed into the electric bunch fans have become used to watching in recent weeks. It happened a few minutes into the second half.
Quarterback Joe Flacco took the team on his back, and like an orchestra conductor, brought the team up the field on a drive that consisted of 10 plays for 87 yards and ended with a touchdown pass to tight end Dennis Pitta.
It was a drive that ate just over three minutes off the clock and gave the Ravens a 14-13 lead with 6:14 left to play in the third quarter. It was a drive in which most of the plays were called and made without a huddle.
It was at that moment, Patriots fans were seen in the stands with their jaws dropped. Trying to make sense of what had happened, trying to make excuses. There was no excuse.
The offensive unit executed just like offensive coordinator Caldwell said he knew they could earlier in the week. The success bled purple and spread to the defense, which forced the Patriots to punt on the next drive.
It began with a 23-yard completion to Torrey Smith. The third quater ended with a pass from Flacco to Boldin for eight yards and the Ravens about to take a 7-point lead on the home team – a team that Las Vegas said was a 9.5 favor.
A dominant 3-yard pass from Flacco to Boldin was celebrated in the endzone at the start of the fourth quarter. It was the kind of pass and catch that reminds you that Boldin has been a beast in recent Ravens playoff history.
The lead was extended to 21-13 in favor of the Ravens The Patriots, nowhere to be found. Ravens fans nauseous over the lead and the potential of seeing their team in the Super Bowl in what will go down as a historic year of football in Baltimore – the final season of future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis.
A fumble forced by Bernard Pollard on a play that saw the Patriots’ Stevan Ridley leave the game was recovered by Arthur Jones.
It set up another successful drive coordinated by the man team leader Ray Lewis has compared to a general in the postseason.
An 11-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to Boldin, followed by a successful PAT from Justin Tucker, extended the lead to 28-13.
…And it shook New England. It rattled Tom Brady…
Tom Brady surpassed Brett Farve’s career postseason passing yards record before leaving the field frustrated after a failed fourth down conversion attempt with 8:27 left to play.
The Ravens won the game 28 - 13.
Ravens Pro Bowl free safety Ed Reed said the goal when the defense stepped onto the field in the second half was a shutout, and that’s exactly what they got.
“We talked about it. We knew it was going to be tough, you know, because Brady’s a great quarterback. You really have to disguise things and pretty much be perfect,” Reed said.
Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs echoed Reed’s statement. With a large smile on his face as he walked down a corridor lined by media after the game, he shouted, “We shut him out! ...Tell them to have fun at the Pro Bowl!”
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