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.
4. Win the Turnover Battle