6 Biggest Studs (Plus 1 Dud) in Ravens vs. Patriots Shootout
In a game where Ray Lewis and Co. sought revenge for the heartbreak endured on the final play of last season’s AFC Championship, the Ravens rallied from a 13-0 deficit to out-muscle the Patriots 31-30.
This chippy seesaw gridiron battle saw opposing head coaches go toe-to-toe in a big-time chess match.
It also saw pinpoint precision passing, crushing hits and small running backs slithering and sprinting through gigantic men scratching and clawing in the trenches.
It also saw some awful refereeing. Manure-chants and a field-goal that was, shall we say, reviewable?
Regardless, this game sure was fun to watch. This slideshow will feature six big studs and one dud in this game.
First, the Dud: (The Refs)
Fans at M&T Stadium were spot-on in this one.
The referee performance in this game was what NBC Sunday Night Football anchor Al Michaels was referring to when he mentioned that the crowd's chant was "the loudest manure chant he's ever heard."
This is putting things nicely of course. But this crew was one of the worst we've seen yet this season. There were 24 penalties in this game, and many of them were questionable at best.
If this referee strike does not end soon, frustration is going to boil over in some fashion.
This will not be good for the league.
Good thing the refs got the last pass interference call right. If not, the "Mob" in Mobtown would have reared its ugly head again.
Baltimore QB Joe Flacco took a quarter to get going. But once he did, the Patriots looked clueless while trying to solve the Ravens' multi-attack offense.
At the end of the first half, Flacco was 12-of-16 for 136 yards and two touchdowns. He hit eight separate receivers with pigskin strikes.
Flacco also had a rush to give the Ravens a critical first down to keep the ball out of Brady’s hands.
Flacco finished the game 28-for-39 for 382 yards and three TDs. His QB rating was 117.7.
Love him or hate him, Patriots QB Tom Brady played like a stud against the Ravens.
Of course it helped that Brady's offensive line (honorable mention stud) was nearly impregnable, allowing just one sack against an aggressive Baltimore pass rush.
Brady shredded the Ravens' secondary for 341 yards on 28-for-41 passing; he also threw a TD and had a QB rating of 101.2. Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui was one of his eight targets.
Where does New England find these guys?
Rice also laid some serious lumber on Eagles safety Kurt Coleman after a fourth-quarter catch.
This week, Rice helped the Ravens put the Eagles in their rear-view mirror with 101 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries (5.1 yard average). He also had five catches for 49 yards.
Talk about consistency.
Is Wes Welker not one of the most underrated receivers in football? This guy has the steely resolve to venture into nooks and crannies many receivers dare not enter.
Against the Ravens, Brady's prime safety valve hauled in eight catches for 142 yards (17.8 average).
At 31, Welker is pushing 700 career receptions. Enough said.
Usually Wes Welker is the one doing the dirty work for the Patriots. But on this night, it was Brandon Lloyd that was raking and plowing for New England.
While Welker went to work inside, Lloyd torched the Ravens for nine catches and 108 yards.
Three games into the season, Lloyd has 22 catches for 237 yards.
If Lloyd is able to maintain this beastly presence, the Patriots offense will be very tough to beat this season.
Wide receiver Torrey Smith lost his 19-year-old brother in a devastating motorcycle accident early Sunday morning.
With little sleep, a very heavy heart and tears in his eyes, Smith went to work like a champion.
With the Ravens trailing 13-0 in the second quarter, Smith electrified fans at M&T Stadium with a huge 25-yard touchdown pass.
At the final whistle, Smith had six catches for 127 yards (21.2 average) and two TDs.
More importantly, Torrey can now go home and grieve.