Baltimore Ravens Beat the New England Patriots Everywhere but Where It Counts

Todd PatakyCorrespondent IJanuary 22, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  BenJarvus Green-Ellis #42 of the New England Patriots celebrates after defeating the Baltimore Ravens in the 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)
Elsa/Getty Images

Football is a very simple game. The team that makes the most plays and the fewest mistakes will win most of the time.

The Baltimore Ravens did what they had to do to win today's AFC Championship game.


They turned the New England Patriots over three times, including two picks of all-world quarterback Tom Brady. Brady managed only 239 yards through the air and no passing touchdowns, although he did rush for one score that showed he had more toughness than most would give him credit for.

For their part, the Ravens only turned the ball over once—a terrible pass over the middle by Joe Flacco that should have been intercepted.

When he wasn't throwing the ball to the wrong team, Brady was overthrowing his receivers for much of the day. Twice, he missed TE Rob Gronkowski when he was wide open. One of those times was a sure touchdown.

The Ravens' defense held the third best scoring offense from the regular season nine points under their season average. Remember, this is the same offense that put up 45 on the Broncos last week.

The Patriots moved the ball well on the ground. BenJarvus Green-Ellis had 68 yards on 15 carries (4.5 yards per carry) and a score. One has to wonder why they didn't run the ball more.

The Ravens' offense moved the ball in the air against one of the worst defensive units in the game. Flacco finished with 306 passing yards and two touchdowns with only that one pick.

What is surprising is that the New England defense held Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice to 67 yards on 21 carries. Rice was the second leading rusher in the league this year.

At the end of the day, the Ravens couldn't seem to overcome one questionable play call and a missed field goal that would have sent the game to overtime.

On 3rd-and-1 from the Patriots' 14-yard-line and with 22 seconds left in the game, the Ravens rolled Joe Flacco out of the pocket looking for a receiver in the end zone. The question is why the Ravens and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron didn't run in that situation. They had two timeouts and could have easily stopped the clock for a field goal try if they had not gotten the first down.

A one-yard run would have given them at least two more shots at the end zone with the time left in the game.

Flacco's pass fell incomplete, however, and that set up a 32-yard field goal to tie the game for Billy Cundiff.

Cundiff, who had not missed a fourth quarter field goal all season (14 for 14), pulled the kick wide left. The Patriots sat on the ball and claimed the Lamar Hunt Trophy as AFC Champions.

Was it a pretty win for the Patriots? Absolutely not. We are not used to seeing poor throws from Brady and there were plenty of them in this game.

This loss has to have the Ravens and their fans wondering what they have to do to get back to the Super Bowl. They swept the AFC North, even manhandling the Pittsburgh Steelers on opening weekend. They won all their games in Baltimore.

Add this loss to the other losses, some of them stunning (Seattle, Jacksonville), that occurred when the Ravens were away from home.

For their part, the Patriots will make their seventh appearance in the Super Bowl, one behind the record held by the Dallas Cowboys and the Steelers.

The Patriots made the plays they had to while the Ravens did not.

Sometimes, it's just that simple.