Ravens - 28
Patriots - 13
This was a flawlessly executed game by the Ravens coaching staff and players, alike. They came in with a solid game plan, stuck to it and left victorious.
This is the second straight week that the Ravens have come into a playoff game as severe underdogs in a hostile environment and came away with a win. These Ravens certainly need to be accounted for as they enter the Super Bowl with such momentum.
This year, we will witness the "Harbaugh Bowl" as brothers Jim and John will go head to head in New Orleans. Look for another exciting game for the Ravens in two weeks as they try to hoist the Lombardi Trophy for the first time since 2000.
Grades for players and positional units are based upon the criteria listed below:
An "A" grade is granted to a player who far surpasses the expectations set out for him during the game. This player will absolutely be a key factor to the success of his team.
A "B" grade will be given to a player who plays at an above-average level and contributes throughout the game with very few mistakes.
A "C" grade is handed to a player who has an average game. He may not put up gaudy numbers or be a major contributor, but he will not be the main cause for certain team failures.
A "D" grade will be granted to a player who plays below his ability level. This player would have seen better days on the field and would most likely want a do-over for his performance.
An "F" grade will stick to a player who fails at all levels during a game. He may even be one key factor to a team's struggles, or even its loss.
Joe Flacco delivered one of his best performances of the year in the largest possible stage.
Joe Flacco - Overall Game Grade - A
Joe Flacco may have had one of his more brilliant games of the season against the Patriots in the AFC
Flacco did not start out strong in the first quarter as some of his passes sailed off target. He was also not helped much by his receivers as he dealt with a couple drops in that time span as well.
However, he made up for his slow start in stellar fashion in the final three quarters. Flacco was able to hit multiple targets on short, intermediate and deep routes as his receivers made great adjustments on thrown balls into the wind and came up with clutch plays.
Flacco demonstrated exactly the quality of play that a quarterback needs to posses in the NFL to drive a team deep into the playoffs and obtain a Super Bowl berth.
The final numbers on the day for Flacco were 21 completions of 36 attempts for 240 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
If Flacco can produce these kinds of numbers in two weeks, he could very well find his hands upon the Lombardi trophy.
Ray Rice was not exactly dominant on the ground, but he made the tough runs count.
Ray Rice - Overall Game Grade - B-
Ray Rice did not have an all-around amazing game today as he is generally known as a home run threat.
Instead, tonight, his longest run was nine yards and he functioned more as a way to keep the defense honest and allow the passing game to take more of an effect.
This is not a terrible thing as the game plan against the Patriots called for this type of offensive behavior tonight. Rice did not gain many yards per carry tonight, but he did have a good amount of clutch runs in short yardage situations. These included some key first downs and also a great touchdown rush that consisted of two broken tackles along the way.
Bernard Pierce - Overall Game Grade - B
Bernard Pierce was not utilized nearly as much as Rice tonight, but he seemed to have the hotter hand out of the backfield. Pierce rushed only nine times, but gained 52 yards on those carries compared to Rice's 19 carries for 48 yards.
Pierce once again proved that he is a great change of pace back and has proven that he should maintain a large role in this offense. He should be utilized more often in the Super Bowl as the Ravens will want to keep the ball on the ground to eat up some clock against a tough defense.
Anquan Boldin continues to be a huge target for his quarterback this postseason.
Anquan Boldin - Overall Game Grade - A
Anquan Boldin was absolutely amazing against the Patriots. Boldin showed his physicality against the New England's man coverage and it resulted in success for this wide receiver.
Boldin was constantly making great adjustments on the ball through windy conditions and kept great concentration as he caught everything thrown in his direction.
Flacco only seemed to need to place the ball in the relative location of Boldin and his strength and great hand skills took over to finish out the play.
Boldin finished with five receptions for 60 yards and two touchdowns.
Torrey Smith - Overall Game Grade - B
Torrey Smith was not as dynamic as he has been recently, but that was in part due to the Patriots' game plan. They did not allow Smith to stretch the field and get over the top of the defense.
Even though they had this tight coverage on Smith, he was able to utilize his skills by crossing the field and beating the secondary over the middle.
Smith made some great grabs and wound up with four receptions for a team-high 69 yards.
Dennis Pitta had a huge impact in the receiving game against the Patriots.
Dennis Pitta - Overall Game Grade - A
Dennis Pitta was a crucial target for Joe Flacco today as he created mismatches against the Patriots linebackers and safeties throughout the contest.
Pitta, even after taking a huge hit, remained tough and caught the very next pass for a touchdown in the third quarter.
This is just the type of example of how an AFC North style of tight end should look. Pitta can take the tough hits, create mismatches, help in the blocking game and be a consistent receiving threat.
Pitta finished the game on Sunday with five receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown.
The offensive line held up nicely for the most part against the Patriots on Sunday.
Offensive Line - Overall Game Grade - C+
The offensive line was very decent in pass protection against the Patriots, however, they struggled in run support.
Against the pass rush, the line only allowed two sacks on Flacco for the duration of the game. This is not an easy task as the Patriots have very athletic linebackers that can easily get through the better lines in the league.
The running game was a little bit of a different story as they struggled to create holes for the running backs up the middle of the line. This meant that for the backs to gain any chucks of yardage, they had to force their way to the outside around the tackles.
The line will have a much tougher test in the Super Bowl against the 49ers defense, but played well enough that they should very much be up to the challenge.
The defensive line was not a consistent threat today against the New England offense.
Defensive Line - Overall Game Grade - C+
The defensive line did not have one of their best days on Sunday against the Patriots as far as the pass rush is concerned, but were very stout against the run.
The line was not responsible for any sacks on Tom Brady in the championship game. Not only was the line unable to get a fair amount of pressure, but they were not able to allow the linebackers to get through the offensive line to create pressure of their own.
The plus side of this line was their ability to close in on the gaps in the running game and not allow the New England backs much breathing room in between the tackles.
This will be absolutely crucial in two weeks against the 49ers, who are one of the best rushing teams in the NFL.
Dannell Ellerbe came up with a clutch interception of Tom Brady late in the game to seal a win for the Ravens.
Ray Lewis - Overall Game Grade - B
Ray Lewis, the future Hall of Fame linebacker led his team for the third straight postseason game in tackles as he totaled 14 on the day against the Patriots.
Lewis was relatively quiet in the first half, but showed up in a big way in the second. Lewis still tends to struggle in coverage against faster receivers over the middle, but he is still a constant sure tackler in the open field.
Continuing to lead his defense to play inspired football, he was a major cog in allowing the Patriots only a total of 13 points on Sunday.
Dannell Ellerbe - Overall Game Grade - B
Dannell Ellerbe did not have a huge impact in this football game until very late.
Early in the game, Ellerbe was not around the ball often and did not account for many tackles. He was also flagged for a personal foul which extended a Patriots drive in the second quarter.
All was forgiven in the fourth quarter, however, as Ellerbe grabbed a tipped ball for an interception of Tom Brady which all but iced the game for the Ravens.
Ellerbe has been such a big-play linebacker in the playoffs so far, and it is very much imaginable that he will continue to do the same in the Super Bowl.
Cary Williams celebrates at the end of the game as he intercepts Tom Brady to send the Ravens to the Super Bowl.
Secondary - Overall Game Grade - A-
The Baltimore secondary will be graded as a unit for today's game as they played very well as a group.
There was not one particular standout for the secondary against the Patriots as they all had great contributions within the group and each combined for a great team effort.
In addition to that, each were great in coverage by defending passes or simply being in the correct position to make a tackle after a reception to limit yards after the catch.
Williams capped off the secondary's great performance in coverage by intercepting Brady in the end zone late in the game to put the final nail in the coffin and send the Ravens to the Super Bowl.
To have such huge success against an elite quarterback like Tom Brady is a fantastic group effort all the way around. This unit certainly has a great deal of momentum heading into the Super Bowl.
Wes Welker was able to find some running room against the Ravens coverage units on Sunday.
Special Teams - Overall Game Grade - D+
Special teams for the Ravens was not exactly special again on Sunday.
Coverage teams failed during a large portion of the game and allowed Wes Welker some great running room on punt returns as the Ravens failed to say in their lanes.
This was a major concern last week against Denver and it continued (albeit, to a lesser extent) this week against the Patriots.
The Ravens simply can not afford to allow opponents to begin with such great field position as they have been allowing lately.
In the first half of the game against the Patriots, the Ravens average starting field position was their own 11 yard line. The Patriots average starting field position was their own 33 yard line.
That is a huge difference in such an important football game. Luckily, the Ravens coverage got a bit stronger toward the latter portion of the game and they need to continue on that trend in order to be successful in two weeks in the Super Bowl.
John Harbaugh had a masterful game against the Patriots on Sunday.
Coaching Staff - Overall Game Grade - A+
It is only fitting that in their most important game of the season, the coaching staff came through in the clutch and are awarded the highest game grade of the week for the Ravens.
John Harbaugh and his staff did a masterful job coming into hostile territory with a great game plan and stuck to it for the duration of the game.
The coaching staff allowed their own players a high amount of success while limiting that of their opponents.
On defense, they came into the game wanting to get tight coverage on all of Brady's targets. They did this from the beginning of the game and stuck with it all the way through the final whistle. This yielded only 13 points to the Patriots on Sunday.
On offense, Flacco and the passing game struggled early on from under center. The staff made great adjustments and allowed their quarterback to work out of the shotgun with more of a spread formation which allowed him to see the field and have a better vision of his receiver's routes.
After this adjustment was made, the Ravens offense ran away with this game.
Clock management was also not a problem, as the Ravens did not burn any timeouts in a costly fashion and did not have any crucial delay penalties.
Coach Harbaugh certainly brought his entire team to Gillette Stadium ready to play. It showed, and as a result, the Baltimore Ravens are headed to the Super Bowl.