Final, 41-7 Patriots: It is, mercifully, over. The Patriots win 41-7 and can secure a first-round bye with a win over Buffalo next weekend. See you then.
Fourth quarter, :40, 41-7 Patriots: If you thought the Patriots were done scoring, well, I’ve got some news for you. Tavon Wilson intercepted a Tyrod Taylor pass and took it 74 yards all the way to the end zone, making this one even more of a laugher.
Fourth quarter, 1:59, 34-7 Patriots: Tyrod Taylor entered the game at QB in place of Flacco, and his first snap … did not go well. Taylor didn’t handle the shotgun snap, and the ball bounced into the end zone. Ninkovich camped out on top of the QB, while Chandler Jones sprinted to the end zone and picked up the loose ball for a touchdown.
As you might expect, it was the first TD of the defensive end’s career.
Fourth quarter, 2:05, 27-7 Patriots: The Pats went back to the ground for that drive, giving the ball to Ridley and Blount with the hopes of chewing up clock and gaining some yards. They did exactly that, with LeGarrette Blount capping it off with a seven-yard touchdown run followed by his own version of Ray Lewis’ famous pregame dance.
That’s a dicey move, considering Ray Lewis is revered as a hero in Baltimore, but Blount got away with it.
The running back may have been a bit peeved after absorbing a late hit from Ladarius Webb on the previous play, a hit that gave the Pats 15 free yards. Blount certainly kicked it into another gear when he saw an opening on the touchdown run.
Fourth quarter, 6:37, 20-7 Patriots: The Ravens faced a fourth-and-10 at their own 48-yard line. Dont’a Hightower got into the backfield and pressured Flacco to throw off his back foot. The pass went toward Pitta but was broken up by Jamie Collins, and the Patriots take over on downs.
That may be it for the Ravens.
Fourth quarter, 7:56, 20-7 Patriots: An incompletion to Edelman, a five-yard run by Ridley and a three-yard catch by Brandon Bolden, and the Pats are forced to punt … and it wasn’t a good one. Allen’s punt bounced out of bounds at the Baltimore 31-yard line. This one is suddenly a bit more interesting.
Fourth quarter, 9:21, 20-7 Patriots: It took 50 minutes, but the Ravens are finally on the scoreboard.
This score came after Steve Gregory was called for pass interference on a pass that sailed about 7 feet over the head of Torrey Smith. It was “catchable,” according to the back judge. In a game that’s been as poorly officiated as possible, it was no surprise to see the flag on that play.
Ray Rice was stopped on first-and-goal from the 2, but Flacco plunged in from the 1-yard line on the next play to give the Ravens their first points of the game.
Fourth quarter, 12:09, 20-0 Patriots: No scoring drive, but the Patriots did move the ball, and Ryan Allen’s punt was fair caught at the 10-yard line. If the Ravens are to come back, they’ll have to start by going a long way on this drive.
Fourth quarter, 14:19, 20-0 Patriots: Justin Tucker had made 33 straight field goals, until just now.
For whatever reason, John Harbaugh decided it was a good idea to kick a field goal … because trailing by 17 is a lot better than trailing by 20, I suppose? Well, it didn’t work out, as Tucker’s 37-yard attempt from the left hash never made it inside the goalposts, and the score remains 20-0.
The Patriots take over at their own 27-yard line, and if they can go on a long scoring drive here, that’ll put the game officially out of reach.
End of third quarter, 20-0 Patriots: The Ravens are driving, and they’ll have a second-and-4 from the New England 19 when the fourth quarter begins.
They’re in field goal range, but field goals don’t mean much when you need 20 points with just 15 minutes to play, so this is four-down territory once again for the Ravens. They’re 0-for-2 on fourth down today.
Third quarter, :58, 20-0 Patriots: Tom Brady was sacked by Terrell Suggs on a third down, which came after Edelman couldn’t run for a first down after making a catch on second down. The Patriots punted, and Jones made a nice return to the New England 38-yard line.
Third quarter, 2:56, 20-0 Patriots: It’s 20-0 Pats, and it’ll stay that way for a while, after Ray Rice was stuffed on fourth-and-1, turning the ball over to the Patriots. Rice was met at the line by Rob Ninkovich, who was at the top of a big mess of bodies, and he wrapped up the shifty running back a few inches shy of the first down marker.
Third quarter, 3:05, 20-0 Patriots: On the other side of this timeout, the Ravens will have a fourth-and-1 from the New England 4-yard line. The Ravens got there after Torrey Smith stiff-armed Steve Gregory and took off for a 42-yard gain on a third-and-5.
Third quarter, 7:20, 20-0 Patriots: A seven-yard pickup on a third-and-4 pass to Edelman got the Patriots into field goal range, and Stephen Gostkowski drilled a 42-yard field goal right down the middle to extend the Patriots’ lead to 20-0.
Third quarter, 10:17, 17-0 Patriots: Upon further review, Logan Ryan was down at the point of the interception, so the Pats will get the ball at the Baltimore 44-yard line.
The Patriots also announced that Devin McCourty suffered a head injury and won’t return. Bad news.
Third quarter, 10:17, 17-0 Patriots: Joe Flacco with another interception, this one a misfired pass off the hands of Pitta that ended up in Logan Ryan’s chest.
Ryan got up and ran it all the way back to the Baltimore 8-yard line, and the Pats are back in business.
Third quarter, 11:48, 17-0 Patriots: Three-and-out for the New England offense, with a deep ball falling incomplete to Aaron Dobson on second down and a third-down pass to Amendola falling incomplete.
Third quarter, 12:17, 17-0 Patriots: The Ravens decided to go for it on a fourth-and-3, and Joe Flacco decided to throw the football into double coverage. Logan Ryan leaped to break up the pass intended for Jacoby Jones, who had Steve Gregory on him anyway, and the Pats take over on downs at their own 39-yard line.
Third quarter, 13:48, 17-0 Patriots: Just as one safety returns in Steve Gregory, another goes off in Devin McCourty.
McCourty went flying into the backside of Ed Dickson helmet-first, and when he got up, he looked to be a bit woozy. He’s receiving the trainers’ attention now.
Of the two safeties, McCourty is the one the Patriots can least afford to lose.
Third quarter, 15:00, 17-0 Patriots: Second half, under way. Let’s hope for no penalty flags for a while.
Halftime, 17-0 Patriots: After an absolutely ridiculous flurry of flags, we are — mercifully — at halftime. Yikes. The Patriots were called for three holding penalties on five plays, and then Baltimore was penalized for running into the kicker. After that, Ryan Wendell was flagged for a false start. On the punt on the ensuing play, Marquice Cole was penalized for being the first player to touch the football after going out of bounds. Aye aye aye.
Flacco took a knee, and it’s time for 15 minutes away from flags. Nice.
Second quarter, 2:40, 17-0 Patriots: The fumble was indeed overturned. First-and-10 Patriots at the Baltimore 46-yard line.
Second quarter, 2:40, 17-0 Patriots: Danny Amendola fumbled away the football, giving it to the Ravens, but on replay review, this one should get overturned. Amendola’s left elbow was down on the turf before the ball was stripped away, so we’ll see if that’s enough for the call to be overturned. (You really never know with NFL refs.)
Second quarter, 4:30, 17-0 Patriots: Rob Ninkovich came up with a sack of Flacco on third down, but the drive may have been a costly one for the Pats defense. Steve Gregory suffered what looked to be a right knee injury, and he needed to be helped off the field. Gregory is a player who has his solid games and his bad moments, but the Pats can hardly afford any injuries at any position at this point in the season. It looked the type of injury that will keep him out for the rest of the afternoon, but we shall see on that.
Dont’a Hightower also went down on that drive, but he returned after missing just one play.
Second quarter, 8:11, 17-0 Patriots: The Patriots drive stalled when Brady was sacked on third down. The Pats were bailed out temporarily with a defensive holding penalty, but after John Harbaugh complained and the officials all met, they determined the holding took place after Brady was sacked. So the Pats punted, and Jacoby Jones might have broken off a big return if not for excellent coverage by Matthew Slater. The gunner tracked down Jones at the 10-yard line to limit him to just a 2-yard return.
Second quarter, 10:08, 17-0 Patriots: The Pats are driving, but the team announced that Vereen suffered a groin injury and that his return is questionable.
Second quarter, 11:55, 17-0 Patriots: The Pats defense comes up with another stop, this time with Kyle Arrington flying off the edge and wrapping up Flacco on third down for a sack. That play came after Flacco aired it out but overthrew everyone, nearly getting picked off by Devin McCourty.
Second quarter, 14:55, 17-0 Patriots: Stephen Gostkowski’s 45-yarder was good, and the Pats extend the lead to 17-0.
But Vereen has gone to the locker room. Yikes.
End of first quarter, 14-0 Patriots: The Pats will have a field-goal attempt when the second quarter begins, but in pressing news, Shane Vereen is hobbled.
He pulled up on his route down the left sideline and walked gingerly to the bench, where he received attention from the trainers. That is something, obviously, that must be watched, as Vereen is among the most important weapons for Tom Brady.
First quarter, 2:18, 14-0 Patriots: The nightmare first quarter continues for the Ravens, as Joe Flacco had some time and space in the pocket on third down but fell over on his own. Andre Carter was credited with a sack, as three white jerseys pounced on the downed quarterback, and the Ravens had to punt. A false start on the punt team pushed it back five yards, and Julian Edelman returned the kick to the New England 37.
First quarter, 4:51, 14-0 Patriots: Two plays, six points for the Pats, as Brady hit Shane Vereen on an out route for a touchdown. The key play on that drive was the illegal contact penalty on Ladarius Webb and the 34-yard catch-and-run by Amendola.
Couldn’t have scripted a better start for New England.
First quarter, 5:35, 7-0 Patriots: The Pats called a timeout after Danny Amendola just had a 34-yard catch-and-run on a third down. They’re in the red zone now, so let’s see what their mode of attack is.
First quarter, 8:17, 7-0 Patriots: The Pats are in business now, after Joe Flacco scrambled right and threw a pass directly at linebacker Dont’a Hightower. He couldn’t haul in the pass, but he did tip it in the air, making it easy for Logan Ryan to make a play on the ball to make his fourth interception of the season.
It’s first-and-10 for the Patriots from near midfield.
First quarter, 9:39, 7-0 Patriots: It wasn’t exactly a picture of offensive perfection, but the Patriots will take it.
Brady’s deep pass to Edelman in the end zone was destined to fall incomplete, but Jimmy Smith knocked the receiver to the ground without knowing where the ball was, leading to an easy pass interference call for the officials. That set up the Patriots on the 1-yard line, and LeGarrette Blount bullied his way across the goal line on the following play.
It was all possible because Brady found Michael Hoomanawanui for nine yards on a third-and-4 near midfield on the play before the pass interference.
First quarter, 12:26, 0-0: Both teams have now gone three-and-out, with Joe Flacco’s deep ball to Torrey Smith on second down hanging in the air long enough to allow Devin McCourty to break it up. Flacco’s short pass to Ray Rice on third-and-5 was way off the mark, and Julian Edelman’s fair catch sets up the Pats at their own 35-yard line.
First quarter, 13:20, 0-0: The Patriots, handed the AFC East moments ago, start this game with a three-and-out. LeGarrette Blount was stuffed at the line on second down after a five-yard pickup on first down, and Brady’s pass to Julian Edelman wasn’t anywhere near the receiver on third down.
Ryan Allen punted it away, and a personal foul penalty on the Ravens will set up Joe Flacco at the Baltimore 7-yard line.
First quarter, 14:53, 0-0: Shane Vereen took the opening kickoff from the 1-yard line out to the 21-yard line, and this game’s under way.
4:24 p.m.: Baltimore won the toss and deferred, so it’ll be Tom Brady and the offense starting things off in just moments.
3:57 p.m.: Logan Mankins lined up at left tackle during warmups, with Josh Kline at left guard, so it looks like that’s what the Patriots will go with today.
3:07 p.m.: Aaron Dobson will be back in uniform today. He hasn’t played since hurting his foot against Denver, and he’ll likely be asked to step up as a red-zone receiver in the absence of Rob Gronkowski.
Isaac Sopoaga is inactive for the Patriots, but there’s not much in the way of surprises. Alfonzo Dennard, Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher were all listed as questionable, but they’re active today.
3:05 p.m.: As expected, both Joe Flacco and Ray Rice are active for the Ravens. They were both listed as questionable, but by all accounts they were supposed to be able to suit up today.
Keep an eye on Flacco’s left knee, which was sprained Monday night by a diving defender’s helmet, and while it’s not the all-important plant leg, it still could affect Flacco’s mobility.
1:30 p.m.: When the Patriots’ schedule came out, the Week 16 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens stood out as one of the big ones. While the circumstances of both teams might be different than everyone expected, today’s game is every bit as important as it looked to be back in April.
The Patriots are 10-4 and still have not clinched a playoff spot (that could change if Miami loses in Buffalo), while the defending Super Bowl champs are 8-6 and are scrapping to squeak into the postseason. You can bet these two teams are going to bring it this afternoon in Baltimore.
While we still have a few hours to wait, we do know that both Nate Solder (concussion) and Kenbrell Thompkins (hip) did not travel with the team and therefore won’t be playing today. They were initially listed as questionable, along with five other players.
Whether those other folks are active today, we’ll find out soon, and we’ll have the news right here in the live blog.