What a great first half of play we just witnessed in the AFC Championship game in Foxborough. The New England Patriots battle the Baltimore Ravens for the right to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Win and live to play another day; lose and go home. It is that simple.
What’s going to happen in the second half? Can the Ravens stop Tom Brady? Will Flacco step up and win this game?
Here are five things that Baltimore needs to do in the second half against New England to win this ball game and get to the Super Bowl.
1. Slow Down Tom Brady
The key to slowing down Tom Brady is to get pressure on him early and often. When Brady has defenders in his face, he is more prone to make mistakes by forcing throws into tight coverage. If the D-line is unable to get to Brady, then they need to get their hands up and deflect passes so Ed Reed and fellow DBs can pick them off. Terrell Suggs and company need to peel back their ears and get after Brady in the second half if the Ravens want to win this game.
2. Stay Hot, Joe Flacco
Joe Flacco got off to a slow start in the first quarter of the game, but came on strong during the second. Flacco is at his best when he has time to read the defense and make pinpoint throws to his receivers. Smith, Boldin and the tight ends have to take advantage of the weak New England secondary by running clean routes. The offensive line has to give Flacco time to find open targets.
Finally, Flacco has to play within himself and make sound smart decisions. If the Ravens want to win this game, they need Flacco to play the second half of his life.
3. Pound the Ball with Ray Rice
The best way to help Flacco is to give Rice the ball as much as humanly possible. Ray is the type of running back who just gets better as the game goes on and the more touches he gets.
Rice will do two huge things for the Ravens in the second half. First, he will eat up clock and take pressure off the defense. Owning ball control and time of possession is key for this Ravens team because the Patriots offense can score in a hurry.
The second thing Rice will do for the offense is open up the play-action pass. The Patriots secondary is porous, and the Ravens can exploit that weakness through the play-action pass.
4. Win the Turnover Battle
Great job so far. Ladarius Webb’s interception in the first half gave the Ravens their first scoring drive of the day. Joe Flacco and the offense need to help their defense out by taking care of the ball in the second half. You can’t beat the Patriots if you give them extra possessions. It would be amazing and super helpful if Baltimore’s defense could put some points on the board. Come up with a pick-six or fumble-six, and the Ravens will be one step closer to the Super Bowl.
5. Stop the Underneath Passing
This might be the most important thing the Ravens defense needs to do in the second half. Brady and the lethal Patriots offense can put you to sleep with the underneath passing routes run by Welker and Branch. Ray Lewis needs to own the middle of the field and make the receivers pay for the dink and dunk passes. If the Ravens can control the short stuff, then they have taken away a huge part of the Patriots offense.