BOSTON (CBS) – Here we go again. The amount of times they meet up, the Patriots and the Ravens might as well be division foes.
The Patriots and Ravens clash on Sunday for the sixth time in the last four seasons. Each meeting has been a classic chapter in what is turning into a very exciting NFL rivalry.
“We feel like they are in our division because we play them every year once or twice, and it has been that way these last couple years,” said linebacker Jerod Mayo. “We know it is going to be a physical game. They like to go in there and play football the way it is supposed to be played. They want to run the ball, play-action shots, and do things like that. We love playing against these guys, we know it is going to be a battle. It always seems like it comes down to the last couple series in the game, which is exciting for you guys, but not so much for us.”
The Pats have also said when they look at the Ravens, it’s a little like looking in the mirror.
“We are similar in how they are built,” Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich said this week. “Bigger guys, a physical style of play. The running back is great. Ray Rice is able to play physically tough, running downhill. The passing game, (Joe) Flacco is able to stand tall in the pocket. He is a big guy. He can make a lot of throws. Again, their style of play is similar to how we play, physical and tough.”
“They’re a tough, hardnosed football team that’s hard to beat. We respect that challenge and we know that’s what it will be on Sunday,” said head coach Bill Belichick. “We know we’ll get their best, they’ll get ours. Both teams have had a lot of success, both teams have a lot of confidence. It’s a great matchup. They’re tough and they do a great job from top to bottom, all the way through their organization, from their owner to the backup guard.”
Of the five previous showdowns — three regular season and two playoff — the Patriots have bested the Ravens in three of them. Aside from Baltimore’s 33-14 trumping of the Pats in the Wild Card round in 2009, none of those games have been decided by more than six points.
So it appears we’re in for another dogfight come Sunday afternoon.
Tale Of The Tape: Patriots vs. Ravens
And if you think the Patriots are motivated to get back to the Super Bowl, how do you think the Ravens feel? They are coming back to Gillette with some unfinished business.
“It shouldn’t surprise anyone that we’re looking forward to playing the Patriots again with everything on the line,” said Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata. “If we were to go to the Super Bowl, it would be great to go through Foxboro and win there. So, it’s another match up that I think that we’re excited about, and hopefully, we can get it done this time.”
“There’s no better way to write it up,” said linebacker Ray Lewis, who is looking for another ring before riding off into the sunset. “We all felt the same way leaving there last year, that we had an opportunity to win that game. What better way to go back? If you were going to go to the Super Bowl, then to go back and go back at New England again.”
“That’s the irony of sports,” added Lewis. “Everybody feels that way. Every team comes in every year saying, ‘Can we do it? Can we do it? Can we do it?’ And for us, we’ve had glimpses of a field goal missed, a fumble here, a dropped catch, whatever it is. And now, we have that opportunity again.”
If history tells us anything about this series, we could all be on the edge of our seats for a full 60 minutes, and potentially longer than that.
But all we really know is that one team is going home, and the other to New Orleans, and both sides are very motivated.
Tune in to the AFC Championship game at 6:30pm on Sunday on 98.5 The Sports Hub, WBZ-TV, or LISTEN LIVE on CBSBoston.com! Pregame coverage begins on WBZ with Patriots GameDay at 11:30am, and at 3pm on 98.5 with Patriots Preview. Following the game, tune in to three hours of coverage on the Sports Hub, and to Patriots 5th Quarter over on myTV38.