Baltimore came out firing on all cylinders. Joe Flacco threw two touchdown passes on their first two drives. The Ravens took an early 14-0 lead, while stopping the New England offense. Tom Brady responded though and got his team on the board tying the game up at 14. Baltimore looked good all game, but the Patriots found a way to stay in it. There was one play that I think took some life out of the Ravens. That was a “gadget play”, where wide receiver Julian Edelman threw a touchdown pass to Danny Amendola that tied the game up at 28. On Baltimore’s next drive they had to settle for a field goal giving them a three point lead. New England drove down the field and got their first lead of the game on a touchdown pass from Brady. Flacco threw an interception on the following drive. I thought the game was over here as there were just two minutes remaining in the game, but Baltimore got the ball back with 14 seconds left. After Jacoby Jones’s punt return, the Ravens offense had one more shot at the end zone, and the pass fell incomplete after being tipped. The Patriots won the game 35-31 and advanced to the AFC Championship game.
Joe Flacco, despite his interception late in the game, had a tremendous game. He threw four touchdown passes and had 292 yards through the air.The rest of the offense performed very well. Justin Forsett had 24 carries for 129 yards and a touchdown catch where he ran untouched into the end zone. Steve Smith made several great catches that helped keep drives alive, as well as a nice bobbling catch in the end zone to put the Ravens up 14-0 early in the game.
The Baltimore defense played well for most of the game. They struggled in the second half, but they sacked Brady twice and had several quarterback hurries, that had Brady complaining to the refs. Daryl Smith had the only interception for the defense,coming late in the second half. What killed the defense the most, was playing soft coverage against the New England short passing game.
New England only ran the ball four times in the second half, two of which were QB kneels, on their last drive of the game. The Patriots were able to get five to six yards every play with short passes in the flat. Baltimore never adjusted their coverage to play tighter to stop these types of plays. They should have been able to adjust their defense to the pass. Because they didn’t, Brady and the Patriots offense continued to pick them apart. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees seemed to get pressure on Brady during the first half, but lacked in getting pressure during the second half. Overall I was pretty impressed with the way the defense played, there’s just a few minor adjustments that needed to be made that could have changed the way the game went on.
Baltimore had a season of ups and downs. Proving to be an inconsistent team, but still able to make the playoffs. They had a great chance to continue their run, but fell short to a fantastic New England Patriots team. I’m very impressed with the way the team played in this game, they showed from the start of the game that they could play at a high level. There were just a few plays that knocked the wind out of the team and they couldn’t recover. This team is looking bright for next season as they finished the season playing for a division title. I look forward to see what changes are made this off season and also what next season has in store for the Baltimore Ravens.
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