AFC Championship Ups And Downs: Brady, Patriots Don’t Execute When It Matters Most
New England Patriots
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BOSTON (CBS) – Well, there really isn’t much to say about this one.
The Patriots played poorly in the AFC Championship game, and now have to watch the Baltimore Ravens move on to Super Bowl XLVII.
We usually have four ups and four downs here, but really, there weren’t four things the Patriots did well on Sunday.
You probably don’t care to see it, but here is what went wrong for the Patriots on Sunday. Don’t fret, there are a couple bright spots below.
There is something about the Baltimore Ravens that brings out the worst in Tom Brady. Granted, Brady’s worst is still better than some quarterbacks’ best, but in a Conference Championship game it’s not going to get the job done.
Brady was inaccurate throughout the game, and had to throw the ball 54 times — completing 29 of them — for 320 yards to go with his touchdown and two interceptions. In three playoff games against the Ravens, Brady now has seven interceptions to just three scores.
There was also the clock mismanagement as the first half wound to a close. Brady did not call a timeout after a keeper, which cost the Patriots precious seconds and likely cost them another shot at the end zone. Instead, they were only able to tack on a field goal – their last points of the game.
This hurts, because Welker had an otherwise stellar evening. He finished the game with eight catches for 117 yards and a touchdown, but one catch he didn’t make has Patriots fans thinking about some big game in Indianapolis last year.
After the Patriots kept the Ravens off the board on their first drive of the second half, Welker couldn’t come up with a third-and-eight pass from Brady. It would have moved the chains at the Baltimore 34, but instead the Patriots were forced to punt. To make matters worse, Baltimore marched down the field and capped off a 10-play, 87-yard drive with a touchdown to take a 14-13 lead, and never looked back.
Welker was big for the Patriots in this game, not only making those eight catches but also coming up big in the return game.
He took a hefty beating as well, with a huge shot from Bernard Pollard – the most memorable of the hard hits. But Welker bounced right back after each one of them, as he always does.
Nevertheless, it will circle back to his drop on third-and-eight, something Welker had on-again, off-again problems with throughout the season. This will just add more drama to the off-season, with Welker set to become a free agent.
The Ravens were a perfect 4-for-4 inside the Patriots 20. The Patriots on the other hand were 1-for-4 in the Red Zone.
The Pats didn’t take advantage of their opportunities when they had them. Finding the end zone just once is not going to get the job done when a trip to the Super Bowl is on the line.
No Pressure On Flacco
The Patriots didn’t sack Flacco at all back in their Week 3 meeting. On Sunday, they got to him just twice, and it was too little too late.
Flacco wasn’t great in the first half, but he was never thrown off by a Patriots pass-rush. It didn’t help that rookie defensive end Chandler Jones did not play, but Flacco had all the time in the world in the pocket.
The bottom line is the Ravens made the plays, and the Patriots didn’t.
Bonus Down: Gil Santos’ Final Game
Gil deserved a better end to his 36-year career.
A Few Ups
It was the big topic heading into the game, but the Patriots special teams did their job. The Ravens’ first five drives all started inside their own 15-yard line, and the Ravens struggled to put points on the board because of it.
The Patriots also got solid contributions in the return game from Welker and Devin McCourty.
The rookie played well after Aqib Talib went down in the first half. He defended the deep ball well, and showed he can play in a big-game situation.
You can’t overlook his eight-catch performance. It just wouldn’t be right.