Patriots vs. Ravens: Halftime Observations for the Patriots

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Patriots vs. Ravens: Halftime Observations for the Patriots
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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.

The game has been a back-and-forth battle with each team trading identical scoring drives. The storylines remain the same. The potent Patriots’ offense looks to outmatch the Ravens’ staunch defense. We head into halftime with the score 13-10, New England leading.

What’s going to happen in the second half? Will Tom Brady turn in another epic performance when it matters most? Can the Patriots defense contain Ray Rice and Joe Flacco?

Here are five things that New England needs to do in the second half against Baltimore to win this ball game and get to the Super Bowl. 

 

1. Establish a Running Game

Whether the Patriots use Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis or Danny Woodhead, the Patriots need to get a running game going.  

On the Patriots' first touchdown, Green-Ellis went for 36 yards and a score. If New England can keep the running game going in the second half, they can take advantage of play-action passes.  

Gronkowski and Hernandez will be able to exploit the middle of the field if New England keeps pounding the ball.

 

2. Stop Ray Rice

Ray Rice is the most consistent offensive weapon the Ravens have. Let's be honest: Ray Rice is an absolute beast and he must be contained.  

The Pats have done a great job at limiting Rice to short yardage, but it is imperative to keep this up in the second half.

Rice has the unique ability of being able to break off massive runs at a moment's notice. You can stop him three plays in a row, but on the fourth play, he could dash for 30.

Pats’ defensive line needs to stuff Rice in the second half. and New England will be one step closer to their season goal.


3. Tom Brady, Be Tom Brady
Everybody knows championship games are where Tom Brady performs his best quarterback work. Brady just needs to take what the defense is giving him and not force the ball into double coverage.
If underneath passes are working, stick with that. If the middle of the field is open, then work the tight ends. All Brady needs to do for the Pats to win this game is make the plays he has been completing all year long.  
New England has the offensive weapons to score points on this vaunted Ravens defense, and all Brady needs to do is distribute the ball to the right players.

4. Win the Turnover Battle
Tom Brady’s interception in the first half led to Baltimore’s first points of the game. Brady needs to do a better job of not forcing throws into tight coverage and Pats receivers need to fight defensive backs for jump balls.
New England’s defense has to force a turnover or two to make up for the turnover already lost.
5. Control the Offensive Tempo
Tom Brady and the Patriots are at their best offensively when they are playing at a quick pace.
The Ravens get out of position and are unable to communicate defensive sets when the Pats run their no-huddle offense.  
The short underneath passing game allows the offense to work quickly and will open up the deep passing plays in the second half.
Look for the Patriots to keep the offensive tempo at a breakneck pace, and they will give themselves a great chance to get back to the Super Bowl.
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