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Ravens vs Patriots: Report Card Grades for New England in AFC Championship

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  The New England Patriots celebrates with the Lamar Hunt Trophy after their AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The New England Patriots defeated the Baltimore Ravens 20-23.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Tony SantorsaSenior Writer IIJanuary 22, 2012

It's official—the New England Patriots are AFC Champions and will play in Super Bowl XLVI. 

New England knocked off the Baltimore Ravens 23-20 and will now advance in their fifth Super Bowl in 10 years. 

This was one of the most entertaining and thrilling games in recent memory, and one of the NFL's most historically clutch franchises pulled off a win for the ages. 

In that spirit, let's take a look at the report card grades for the 2011 AFC Champions, the New England Patriots. 

 

Pass Offense: D

Tom Brady openly told the crowd during the Lamar Hunt Trophy ceremony that he sucked—and he really did.

Brady completed 22 of his 36 passes for only 239 yards and failed to throw one touchdown while being intercepted two times and finishing with a pitiful 57.5 quarterback rating. 

New England's pass offense was pretty inconsistent, but at times they were effective as Rob Gronkowski caught five passes for a team-high 87 yards—but in general, their passing attack was very mediocre at best against the Ravens.

 

Rush Offense: B

If it weren't for BenJarvus Green-Ellis, then the Patriots probably would not be celebrating right now.

Green-Ellis ran for a game-high 68 yards while averaging 4.5 yards per-carry and scoring New England's first touchdown. 

The Patriots finished the game with 96 total rushing yards, 20 less yards than Baltimore. 

 

Pass Defense: C

New England's pass defense was just average—they were either very good or pretty bad, but they were very good when it mattered the most.

Joe Flacco completed 22 of his 36 passes for a whopping 306 yards while throwing two touchdowns and one interception. 

The team's biggest play came when Sterling Moore stripped Baltimore wide receiver Lee Evans with just 22 seconds left as he was on the verge of catching a 14-yard touchdown to give the Ravens the lead. 

 

Rush Defense: B+

Vince Wilfork carried the team's run defense—he was in the backfield nearly every play and shut down Ray Rice as he compiled only 67 yards and averaged just 3.2 yards per-carry. 

Baltimore averaged only 3.1 yards per-carry as a team, and that's a huge accomplishment for the Patriots. 

 

Special Teams: C

The only negative for New England's special teams was Danny Woodhead's fumble on a kick return with 3:26 left in the third quarter, which led to a Billy Cundiff 39-yard field goal to give Baltimore a 20-16 lead.

Stephen Gostkowski was perfect as he drilled three field goals with his longest one being 35-yards. 

 

Coaching: A

The only knock that I have with New England's coaching staff was throwing the ball deep with 7:07 left in the game when the Patriots had a 23-20 lead, as Jimmy Smith picked off Brady in the end-zone off of a pass that was intended for Matthew Slater.

Other than that, Bill Belichick really coached up his defense to rise to the occasion and led the Patriots to their fifth Super Bowl in 10 seasons. 

 

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Be sure to check out Tony Santorsa's blog: PatriotsPlus

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