Patriots / Ravens Recap: And We Pondered, Weak and Weary...
(Originally posted on 4SportBoston.com )
To Patriots' fans, it was a fizzling ellipses in place of what we'd hoped would be an exclamation point at the end of the "No one believed in us!" Dynasty Decade.
Ever the die-hards, my father and I watched the entire game Sunday agreeing over and over again that the amount of points the Ravens had accumulated would not be enough to beat the Patriots.
After the first play from scrimmage, when Ray Rice broke off an 83-yard jaunt to the end zone through the Jerod Mayo/Vince Wilfork, chambers of the heart of the Patriots' defense, we agreed. After nearly losing the ensuing kickoff, just before Brady was strip-sacked and the Ravens ran their way across a very short field to another touchdown, this one scored by a fullback the size of most offensive linemen, we agreed. Even when Billy Cundiff kicked his first of two chip-shot field goals at the end of the first quarter making the score 27-0, we agreed their points weren't going to be enough to beat the Patriots. Not today. Not in a playoff game on the frost-bitten Razor.
However, when the Patriots failed to come out of the half with any of their trademark game-changing adjustments, and failed to score first in the third quarter, things changed. We agreed again, but this time it was not that the Patriots still had a shot, it was that the Patriots' Dynasty Days were over.
The Ravens sniffed out every screen, bombarded the offensive line with multiple blitz packages, and simply dared Tom Brady to try and go deep to Moss with limited time and pocket mobility. The game plan attempted by nearly every team in the playoffs: "Run the ball, play great defense," was executed with such heart-crushing precision that Foxboro fans were booing their beloved team off the field in the middle of the third quarter in order to beat traffic.
The Patriots' game plan was to put pressure on Baltimore and make them pass. Joe Flacco passed for 34 yards and one interception. The Big Bangers on one team came to play on Sunday, and they were not wearing silver and blue.
One of the more frustrating parts of this game was watching the Patriots' "offensive coordinator", and I use that term loosely, after calling dozens of unnecessary shots down field with 14-point leads all season, adamantly refuse to take one shot down field to Randy Moss in order to close the gap while trailing by three touchdowns.
I'd hate to think how many people are shopping for new remote controls after smashing them into their walls during this eyesore. I mean, how many times can one person yell "Why aren't they in a no-huddle!?" or "You have Randy Moss on your team! GO DEEP!!!" without breaking the nearest electronic device to them? I know I didn't last long...
So the Baltimore Ravens will move on (deservedly so) to face the Indianapolis Colts this coming weekend. And, despite the decade-long rivalry with Indianapolis, I'll be rooting for the Colts on three-weeks rest over any team with Terrell Suggs on its active roster.
Now if you'll excuse me, I just threw up in my mouth and have to rinse. Fare thee well, team of the 2000's...
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