Well Ravens fans, this is it.
It’s like playing Madden on your PS3. You make it all the way to the AFC Championship Game, and throw what should be the game-winning pass, only to see your wide receiver drop it.
You stand up, ready to reset the game, but decide to go ahead and kick a short field goal and try to force overtime.
Then your finger slips and you miss that too.
You throw the controller in frustration and slam your finger down on the reset button.
Same teams, same venue, same thing at stake…just starting over.
While a few of the faces have changed (quite notable ones at that), the fact is that the Ravens have a shot at redemption that many teams never get. Today, in Foxboro, they can right a wrong from that fateful night a year ago.
Let’s hope they take full advantage.
KNOW THY ENEMY
HEY, YOU LOOK FAMILIAR ~ Key Connections
Baltimore executive vice president/general manager Ozzie Newsome began his front office career as a special assignment scout with the Browns in 1991 when Bill Belichick was the head coach.
Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees spent six seasons (2004-09) on the Patriots’ coaching staff. He spent his final four years in New England as the defensive coordinator. During his tenure guiding the defense, the Patriots were the only team in the NFL to finish in the Top 10 in scoring defense in four-consecutive seasons.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s first coaching job in the NFL was with the Baltimore Colts in 1975 as a special assistant to then head coach Ted Marchibroda. Baltimore finished 10-4 that season en route to claiming the AFC East Division championship.
Patriots special teams coach Scott O’Brien held the same position for the Cleveland Browns from 1991-95 and made the move to Baltimore with the franchise to coach the Ravens’ special teams for three seasons (1996-98).
Ravens S James Ihedigbo played with New England in 2011, seeing action in 16 games (12 starts) and posting 72 tackles (50 solo).
Ravens DE Arthur Jones is the older brother of Patriots rookie DE Chandler Jones. The Jones brothers grew up in Endicott, NY, and both attended Syracuse University, playing together in 2009. Their middle brother, Jon “Bones,” is a UFC Champion who, as of Dec. 2012, was ranked as the No. 1 light heavyweight fighter in the world.
In 19 playoff games, the Ravens’ “D” has forced 37 INTs, including 25 thefts in their last 13 postseason contests. Baltimore’s 37 INTs rank as the most in NFL postseason play since 2000, while the 671 INT return yards also stand first.
In addition, the Ravens are the only team in the NFL that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has thrown more interceptions (eight) against than he has touchdowns (seven).
SIZZLE SIZZLES IN JANUARY
When the temperatures are at their coldest, that’s when Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs really heats up. He has posted 12 sacks in 13 career playoff games, including a team-high 5 during the 2010 playoffs. Dating back to 2008, Suggs’ 12 QB drops rank first in NFL postseason play, while his 77 yards lost on those sacks also stand No. 1.
Suggs’ 12-career playoff sacks tie (Reggie White) for the third most in NFL postseason history (since sacks became an official statistic in 1982). His sack yards (77) rank sixth.
HIGH-FLYIN’ IN MILE HIGH
Notes from the Ravens’ thrilling win in Denver in last week’s Divisional round:
The Ravens totaled a franchise-record 479 yards of offense (155 rushing and 331 passing), besting their previous mark of 439 set in the previous week’s Wild Card win vs. Indianapolis.
The Ravens also posted a franchise-record 38 points and 324 net passing yards. Baltimore scored 3 passing TDs, 1 rushing TD and 1 INT-TD.
QB Joe Flacco set Ravens’ playoff records in passing yards (331) and passing TDs (3). Completing 18 of 34 passes, Flacco earned his 8th-career postseason victory, which ranks as the third most by a starting QB in the first five seasons of a career.
With 31 seconds remaining in regulation, Flacco found WR Jacoby Jones on a 70-yard TD bomb to send the contest to overtime, where the Ravens would eventually kick a 47-yard FG in 2OT to win the game. It marked Flacco’s 15th-career game-winning drive in the fourth quarter/OT (his second in the playoffs).
On the game-tying TD with 31 seconds remaining that forced overtime, QB Joe Flacco and WR Jacoby Jones connected on the second-longest pass play in Ravens playoff history (70). The longest (96 yards) was from Trent Dilfer to Shannon Sharp in the 2000 AFC Championship at Oakland.
Flacco also hit WR Torrey Smith for 59-yard and 32-yard TD passes, marking the first game in NFL playoff history where a QB threw 2 TDs of 59-plus yards (the other being Jones’ 70-yarder).
WR Anquan Boldin became the Ravens’ all-time playoff leader in receiving yards (452), pulling in a team-high 6 catches for 71 yards. Five of Boldin’s grabs earned first downs.
RB Ray Rice scored his 5th-career playoff TD, the most in team history. Rice finished the day with a game-high 131 rushing yards and 1 TD on 31 carries, posting the sixth 100-yard ground outing in Ravens playoff history. It also marked his fourth-career playoff game with at least 100 yards from scrimmage (and his second this postseason – 109 vs. Indy in the Wild Card round).
LAUGH OF THE WEEK AT EXPENSE OF RAVENS’ OPPONENT
NFL Network was replaying the Ravens’ 2009 Wild Card round win over New England yesterday. Man, that game was a thing of beauty. The Ravens hit Tom Brady early, often, and HARD, and he was just awful – a fumble and two interceptions in the first quarter alone, as the Ravens jumped out to a 24-0 lead. While it would be foolish to expect anything similar to transpire today, we can at least hope, can’t we?
A couple “LOLPATS” I put together after that win.
Let’s go, Ravens. Punch those New England boys in the mouth from the opening whistle and don’t let up. Let’s continue this ride all the way to (and through) the Super Bowl in New Orleans.
stats and tables c/o Baltimore Ravens PR