Final, 35-31 Patriots: That’s it. What a game. Allen had to punt with 14 seconds left, Jacoby Jones had no blockers to get him anything, leaving Baltimore with 4 seconds to run one play.Flacco heaved a deep ball into mess of bodies, the Pats knocked it down, and that’s all she wrote.
See you next weekend for the AFC Championship Game.
Fourth quarter, 1:39, 35-31 Patriots: Game over.
Duron Harmon had a perfect read on Joe Flacco’s deep ball to Torrey Smith. Harmon made the leaping INT, and this one’s over but for some kneeldowns.
Fourth quarter, 2:00, 35-31 Patriots: Flacco stood tall on fourth down, waiting for Owen Daniels to find space over the middle before delivering a calm pass to the tight end.
Huge, obviously, and the Ravens have a first down at the New England 41-yard line.
Fourth quarter, 2:14, 35-31 Patriots: Fourth-and-3 upcoming for the Ravens. Game on the line. This is it here. Ball on the Baltimore 42-yard line.
Fourth quarter, 5:13, 35-31 Patriots: The drive was kept alive thanks to Danny Amendola breaking yet another tackle and fighting his way past the first down marker on a third-and-6. That man has been possessed tonight.
Two plays later, Brady hit Edelman for a gain of six yards on a second-and-1, setting up a first down at the 23-yard line.
It was there that Brady calmly lofted a picture-perfect deep ball up the left sideline, and even though he was covered, Brandon LaFell made a bread-basket catch while crossing the goal line.
Touchdown, and for the first time of the night, the Patriots lead, 35-31.
Fourth quarter, 8:56, 31-28 Ravens: Call overturned. Patriots ball.
Fourth quarter, 8:56, 31-28 Ravens: Shane Vereen was ruled to have fumbled, and Daryl Smith was ruled to have recovered it, but it’s not going to count.
Replay shows Vereen’s knee was clearly down, and it’ll be overturned. That means the Patriots will have a first-and-10 at the Baltimore 49-yard line.
Fourth quarter, 10:17, 31-28 Ravens: The Patriots’ defense has come up with a red-zone stop (thanks in part to Owen Daniels’ inability to haul in a third-down catch in the end zone, a pass which hit him in the hands), and the Ravens had to settle for a field goal.
Forsett was stopped on first down, Flacco threw out the back of the end zone on second down, and Daniels couldn’t make an admittedly difficult catch on third down.
Justin Tucker hit a chip shot, the first field goal of the game, and the Ravens have a lead. A stop or a turnover from the Baltimore D could win the game here, really, if the Ravens run the ball again like they just did on that drive.
The Patriots presumably have emptied their entire bag of tricks, what with their ineligible Vereens and their Edelman passes, so they’ll have to earn any further points the old-fashioned way. I think Gronkowski will play a role in that plan. Just a small hunch.
Fourth quarter, 13:00, 28-28: Jamie Collins is an exceptional athlete. This is not breaking news. But he put that on display yet again on a third-and-1 pass to Daniels.
The Ravens elected to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the 36-yard line. In a tight set with two wide right, Flacco rolled right and the Patriots left the fullback all alone yet again in the right flat. The Patriots are getting killed in that area of the field.
Baltimore is now 2-for-2 on fourth-down attempts in this game.
End of third quarter, 28-28: Fourth quarter time.
Ravens have a second-and-7 from their own 47-yard line to start the fourth. What a game.
Third quarter, 1:30, 28-28: On third-and-2, the Ravens got themselves pretty lucky.
Jamie Collins eventually broke through the line, stripped Joe Flacco and recovered the fumble inside the 5-yard line.
However, there was a flag on the play. Darrelle Revis, illegal contact. Five-yard penalty, automatic first down.
There was no doubt that Revis grabbed Smith and twisted his shoulders. More of an accident than anything, but it counts, and it’s legit. THe Ravens keep the drive alive and avoid disaster.
Third quarter,3:09, 28-28: The Patriots didn’t make use of the interception, as Brady threw consecutive terrible passes to a wide open Gronkowski on second and third downs. Bad ball by Brady.
Then Ryan Allen’s punt was a bad one, as he tried to pin the Ravens deep but instead sent it out of bounds at the 20.
So the pick was essentially meaningless.
Third quarter, 3:31, 28-28: Interception. Patriots ball.
Joe Flacco sailed a pass way ahead of Torrey Smith, Devin McCourty took a great angle on the ball, and he hauled it in before stepping out of bounds.
First-and-10 at the Baltimore 37-yard line. Wow.
Third quarter, 4:20, 28-28: Tie game, thanks to … quarterback Julian Edelman.
Yup, the former Kent State quarterback has never been used in the NFL as a passer, but the Patriots finally let him give it a whirl tonight. And it worked.
Brady lobbed it out left to Edelman, and it looked like the screen play that works so well for the Patriots so often. The Ravens completely bit on the play, with Rashaan Melvin rushing toward the line. That left Danny Amendola all alone up the left sideline, and Edelman lofted a perfect deep ball.
Tie game, 19 minutes left to play. Buckle up your seatbelt.
Third quarter, 5:33, 28-21 Ravens: The fans are chanting “Bra-dy! Bra-dy!”
Still, they believe.
Third quarter, 5:33, 28-21 Ravens: It took a while, but the Patriots’ defense just showed up.
Collins broke up a pass to Daniels on first down, Arrington blew up the lead blocker on second down, and Flacco found no open receivers despite a half-hour to throw the ball on third down.
Sam Koch sent a perfect punt right to the boundary, robbing Edelman of any chance of making a return.
First-and-10 Patriots at their own 31-yard line, again in position to tie the game. Will Bill dig into his bag of tricks again?
Third quarter, 6:48, 28-21 Ravens: That was a most bizarre drive.
On at least three occasions, the Patriots elected to run plays with just four offensive linemen, choosing to keep a receiver as ineligible. It was twice Shane Vereen and once Michael Hoomanawanui. And oddly, the Ravens still covered the ineligible receivers and left open the seam for easy completions to Hoomanawanui (twice) and Edelman (once).
The moves so infuriated John Harbaugh that he got called for unsportsmanlike conduct for complaining too much to the officials.
That set up a first-and-goal from the 5-yard line, and on second down, with Gronk in man coverage, Brady threw a simple slant to the big man. Touchdown, too easy.
And so, it’s a one-score game. The defense is going to have to come up with a pick or force a fumble, because they’re getting worked by Joe Flacco, who is 22-for-29 for 231 yards and four touchdowns.
Third quarter, 10:22, 28-14 Ravens: The penalty turned out to be no problem for Baltimore, as Justin Forsett was left all alone in the right flat. Flacco flicked the pass to Forsett, who scampered all 16 yards into the end zone.
And the Ravens once again lead by 14.
Third quarter, 10:34, 21-14 Ravens: Facing a huge third-and-10 from the Patriot 40-yard line, the Ravens faced a tough decision: try to pick up 10 yards, or settle for a few yards for a field-goal attempt.
The Ravens broke the huddle with trips left and Forsett in an empty backfield, and Flacco took a five-step drop and hit Marlon Brown on a crossing pattern for a gain of six.
It apparently was a two-part decision, because the Ravens wasted no time in going for it on fourth-and-6.
They broke the huddle with two receivers split out on each side and Flacco all alone. Flacco scanned the field and didn’t like what he saw, so he called timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, Flacco again stood in an empty backfield. He took the shotgun snap and threw deep right to Torrey Smith. Brandon Browner interfered with the receiver, but he caught the ball anyway.
He caught the ball at the 1-yard line, and the bold call paid off.However, Torrey Smith got called for taunting after the play, setting up a first-and-10 at the 16-yard line.
Third quarter, 14:02, 21-14 Ravens: An uninspiring start to the second half for the Patriots, who go three-and-out. Brady really wanted a penalty called on C.J. Mosley for his coverage on Gronkowski, but Brady didn’t get it.
Allen punted out to the 21-yard line, Jones returned it to the 30, and the Ravens will be looking to turn this into a two-score game.
Also, Bryan Stork won’t return to this game. The season hinges on Josh Kline’s ability to play guard.
Third quarter, 14:54, 21-14 Ravens: Amendola returned the second half kick out to the 26-yard line.
Halftime, 21-14 Ravens: After an Amendola return and a Brady kneeldown, the half ends. Patriots have some ground to make up here if they want to stay alive.
One thing to remember here: The Patriots haven’t allowed a second-half touchdown in six games. So they’ve got that going for them.
Second quarter, :10, 21-14 Ravens: And the Ravens capitalize.
Flacco threw up a jump ball to Owen Daniels, and Daniels smartly spun free of coverage from Dont’a Hightower and made an impressive catch while falling out of the back of the end zone.
Impressive play to finish off the drive, which was made possible by the questionable penalty call on Revis.
Brady’s interception looms large as halftime draws near.
Second quarter, :27, 14-14: That was just a terrible call. Darrelle Revis was called for defensive pass interference on a deep shot up the right sideline to Steve Smith, even though Smith was grabbing Revis the entire time and the pass was well out of bounds and uncatchable.
First-and-10 from the 24-yard line following the 20-yard penalty.
Second quarter, 1:03, 14-14:The tables have turned, thanks to a terrible pass by Tom Brady that was intercepted by Daryl Smith. It looked like Brady either thought Gronkowski would cut his root inside or the QB just underthrew it.
First-and-10 Ravens at their own 43-yard line. Expect some deep shots.
Second quarter, 1:11, 14-14: Short completion to Amendola for 2 yards, followed by a 7-yard completion to Amendola, then a 3-yard run by Bolden, and it’s first-and-10 from the 40-yard line.
The Pats called their first timeout. They only need about 25-30 yards to get into field goal range and take a lead before halftime.
Second quarter, 1:47, 14-14: Julian Edelman is amazing. With a Ravens gunner breathing on his face while catching the punt, Edelman put a spin move as soon as he caught the ball, allowing him to break a 14-yard return. We’ll see if the Pats can get anything going with less than two minutes left and a long way to go, as they start from their own 28.
Second quarter, 2:00, 14-14: It appears as though the Ravens will have to punt coming out of the two-minute warning, thanks to a wacky reverse play to Michael Campanaro on third-and-1. That play, which looked like it came out of the Josh McDaniels playbook, failed badly, setting up a fourth-and-1 from the Baltimore 37-yard line.
I don’t think Baltimore can afford to risk going for it right now. So I expect a punt.
Second quarter, 3:37, 14-14: After Edelman saved the day, it was Rob Gronkowski’s turn. Facing a third-and-8, Brady stood in the pocket with good protection and waited for Rob Gronkowski to gain some separation over the middle of the field. Brady delivered a strike, and Gronkowski caught it in stride, running right to left across the field before going out of bounds for a 23-yard pickup.
Later in the drive, facing a second-and-10 from the 15-yard line, Brady threw to the left side to Amendola, who broke a tackle and burst up the left sideline. Amendola went into full Superman mode, leaping inside the pylon and landing in the end zone.
That play was made possible by Brady hanging in the pocket and connecting with Brandon LaFell on a third-and-6. That pass again came across the middle, which is where Brady is doing most of his damage.
It took a while, and it wasn’t easy, but this one’s back to even.
Brady passed Peyton Manning for most career postseason passing yards on that drive.
Second quarter 6:58, 14-7 Ravens: Julian Edelman came up with a nice little catch and run over the middle, picking up a good 11 yards … before fumbling. Somehow, in a 1-on-3 battle, Edelman came out of the pile with the football. Crisis averted.
Second quarter, 7:13, 14-7 Ravens: Devin McCourty put a hit on Owen Daniels on a third-down pass intended for the tight end, forcing the Ravens to punt.
Edelman had a nice little return up the right sideline for 19 yards, and the Patriots take over at their own 33-yard line.
But bad news: Bryan Stork suffered a knee injury on the last play of the previous drive, and he’s questionable to return.
Josh Kline is in to replace him. Expect some quick passes, because Kline can’t really serve as a reliable protector for Tom Brady.
Second quarter, 9:26, 14-7 Ravens: The Patriots had a nice little drive going, but Brady was sacked on second down and third down, and the Patriots had to punt.
That punt by Ryan Allen — which came after a Belichickian effort to mess with the Ravens by sending out the field goal unit and eventually taking a delay of game — was a good one, but Chris White was penalized for taunting after the play.
So instead of starting at their own 10, the Ravens start at the 25-yard line.
Noteworthy on the last drive: Brady got shoved a few times after the third-down sack, and he felt the hit warranted a penalty call. He didn’t get it, and he let referee Bill Vinovich know that he wasn’t happy about it. The QB screamed right in the face of Vinovich, and it probably warranted an unsportsmanlike penalty. Alas, Vinovich didn’t call that on Brady.
Second quarter, 14:01, 14-7 Ravens: Joe Flacco’s first pass of the second quarter looked like it was intended for Jamie Collins, but the linebacker couldn’t catch the pass that hit his hands as he lunged forward for it. After a short run on second down, Torrey Smith got busted for retaliating against Brandon Browner, setting up a third-and-21. Chandler Jones nearly got to Flacco on that third down, which went for a short completion, and the Ravens had to punt for the first time of the night.
Sam Koch’s punt came down at the 11-yard line and Edelman brought it out to the 25-yard line.
The New England defense has its first stop, and Tom Brady’s offense has a chance to tie this thing up. I bet you five bucks he goes to Gronkowski.
End of first quarter, 14-7 Ravens: The first quarter ends with a 19-yard run by Justin Forsett off the right end, but it comes at a cost for Baltimore. Steve Smith was hurt on the play and required attention from the trainers.
Smith did pop up and jog off the field, but he’s also crazy, so don’t take that as a sign that he’s definitely healthy.
First quarter, :48, 14-7 Ravens: The Patriots have life.
Facing a third-and-8 in a stadium where the fans were starting to get scared, Tom Brady handled a bad shotgun snap, stepped up to avoid a rush and found a wide open Rob Gronkowski over the middle of the field for a huge first down pickup.
Liking that idea, Brady threw to Gronkowski on the next play as Gronk ran up the left seam. The giant came down with the catch and dragged Rashaan Melvin for a good 8 yards or so. Brady then connected with Edelman to get down to the goal line. Blount was hit behind the line on first down, and Edelman couldn’t make a spinning catch on second down.
Brady took a shotgun snap on third down, scanned his options and then decided to run it in. He made a leap to cross the goal line, and the Pats have cut the Ravens’ lead in half.
Of note: With that run, Brady moved into a tie with Curtis Martin for the franchise record for playoff rushing touchdowns. He has five. One was in the snow, which was pretty cool.
First quarter, 4:44, 14-0 Ravens: The Ravens once again moved rather quickly down the field. Forsett picked up 22 yards on two consecutive runs to start the drive, and four plays later, Steve Smith found some space in the Pats’ zone defense and caught an easy 16-yard chain mover.
Facing a third-and-7 from the 9-yard line, Steve Smith ran three yards toward the corner before cutting back toward the middle of the field, getting open against Darrelle Revis and bobbling but eventually catching the easy touchdown pass by Joe Flacco.
This place is stunned right now. Like … 2010 divisional round against the Jets level stunned.
Eleven plays, 79 yards, and the home crowd is booing the defense. Rightfully so, too. Darrelle Revis certainly hasn’t looked All-World thus far, and he’s supposed to be the difference-maker for this team.
It’s obviously early, but the offense is going to have to rescue the defense right now. So many times this year, the defense has bailed out the offense, but tonight seems to be a different story.
First quarter, 10:53, 7-0 Ravens: The play has been overturned, and that is huge. The officials ruled that Amendola “used the ground” to make the catch, and therefore it’s no catch. Tough break.
The Patriots had to punt, and Ryan Allen’s boot came down to Jacoby Jones at the 15-yard line. He had little room to operate and was forced out of bounds at the 21-yard line.
First quarter, 10:37, 7-0 Ravens: We’ve got ourselves the first challenge of the night.
Tom Brady underthrew a wide open Danny Amendola on a third-and-5 as Amendola broke toward the sideline. But Amendola made an outstanding diving effort to make the catch before tumbling out of bounds.
It looked like he caught it, but the Ravens have challenged it. We shall see.
Also of note: Torrey Smith headed to the locker room for attention from the medical staff after taking that hit by McCourty.
First quarter, 12:10, 7-0 Ravens: Danny Amendola returned the kick to the 22-yard line and appeared to fumble at the end, but the Patriots were awarded possession. Unclear whether that fumble would have stood up on replay, bu it’s a moot point now. First-and-10 for the Patriots.
First quarter, 12:18, 7-0 Ravens: Bing, bang, boom, touchdown.
The Ravens easily drove all the way down the field in a matter of just a few minutes. Flacco hit a wide open Steve Smith for 19 yards on the drive’s first play, and he connected with Crockett Gillmore for nine yards on the next play. Justin Forsett picked up the first down before Torrey Smith held on to a ball while absorbing a hard hit from Devin McCourty for a gain of 22 yards.
On the next play, Flacco rolled right, Patrick Chung got lost, and Kamar Aiken had a relatively easy catch-and-run for a 19-yard touchdown. The play was reviewed, but the call on the field stood.
The PAT was good, it’s 7-0 Ravens after just five plays, and Gillette Stadium is quiet.
First quarter, 14:55: Kicking from the open end into the closed end of the stadium, using the right hash, Stephen Gostkowski’s opening kick made it to the 5-yard line. Jacoby Jones caught the kick and returned it out to the 29-yard line.
Joe Flacco and Co. begin this one first-and-10 from their own 29-yard line. We are underway.
4:29 p.m.: The Patriots have won the toss and elected to defer.
The Patriots will start this game on defense.
The temperature to star the game is 20 degrees, but it’s 8 degrees with the wind chill. It’s going to drop now as the sun fades away.
We’re just an anthem away from kickoff now.
4:27 p.m.: The two teams have taken the field, and the captains are heading to midfield for the coin toss.
3:51 p.m.: Both teams are on the field for warmups. Tom Brady hit the field to his usual “Public Service Announcement,” and he was fired up as always. Rob Gronkowski drew the second-loudest cheers when he hit the field for warmups.
Joe Flacco received some warm boos when he took the field, but the stands are only about 20 percent filled right now, so it was nothing monumental.
The kickers finished up their pregame work. Justin Tucker, he of the rather strong leg, attempted a 63-yard field goal into the closed end. It came up well short, but he’s clearly loose for this one.
For some looks at the field from earlier, check out these shots:
3:11 p.m.: The inactive lists are out. Here we go.
Josh Boyce, WR
Jordan Devey, OL
Zach Moore, DL
James White, RB
Jonas Gray, RB
Steve Maneri, TE
Cameron Fleming, T
The name that might stand out is Jonas Gray. But with a healthy LeGarrette Blount, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden, the seldom-used Gray won’t be suiting up.
Fleming’s absence is also notable, as he has been the key sixth lineman when the Pats go with some heavy sets.
Chris Greenwood, LB
Steven Means, LB
Terrence Cody, DT
Ryan Jensen, C
Casey Walker, DT
Phillip Supernaw, TE
DeAngelo Tyson, DE
2 p.m.: As I get settled into the press box, I can tell you that it’s really not too cold out there, relatively speaking. The sun is shining bright, though, so once that big ball of fire rolls out of view, things might get a bit brutal out there.
With just two and a half hours left to go, here are a few BOLD thoughts I have about what will take place this afternoon and evening.
1. Steve Smith is going to have a monster game.
Steve Smith is my favorite kind of psychopath. The guy takes it to about 500 extra levels every time his toes touch the turf. He’s still got a bitter taste in his mouth from the way his postseason ended last year. He’s going to bring it today.
2. Bryan Stork is going to handle Haloti Ngata.
Because there’s nothing Bryan Stork can’t do.
3. Lots of touchbacks.
So. Many. Touchbacks. Don’t even bother watching any kickoffs. Touchback central.
4. Gronk is going to happen.
It’s hardly going out on a limb, but Rob Gronkowski flips this matchup upside-down. The man is unstoppable. So whether he draws double and triple teams to open up space for his fellow receivers or whether he just dominates his single coverage and scores three touchdowns, Gronkowski is going to impact this game in a way that’s hard to quantify.
1 p.m.: Good afternoon from Gillette Stadium, where a few hours from now in this chilly stadium we will see an always-heated playoff matchup between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens.
It’s been two weeks since the Patriots played, and it’s been three weeks since they played in a game that had any sort of meaning, so the 68,000 folks who fill this place will be bursting at the seams, ready to explode.
Alas, it’ll be up to the players to give them something to cheer about, and with regard to that, you’ve read just about every preview and matchup story on earth by now. It’s time to dump the previews and get to some actual action, and it’ll be covered right here in the live blog.
I’ll have pregame news, including the inactive lists, as well as analysis of the entire game from start to finish, so check back often.
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