While many Ravens fans liked the team’s chances in Foxborough in the AFC Championship Game, even the most optimistic of purple faithful foresaw a hard fought high-scoring affair, with the Ravens winning somewhere along the lines of 38-35 or 31-28.
Back in Week 3 when the Ravens beat New England 31-30 in Baltimore, the Ravens’ best cornerback, Lardarius Webb, had yet to suffer his season-ending knee injury. Webb has been a one-man Wes Welker-stopper for the Ravens in the past, lining up on the Patriots’ diminutive wideout in the slot, where Webby does his best work.
However, even in Week 3 WITH Webb on the field, the former Texas Tech Red Raider hauled in 8 passes for 142 yards in the losing effort.
The fear was that, without Webb, the Ravens would have absolutely no answer for Welker, who would have his way in the Baltimore secondary.
While that was partially true – Welker again caught 8 balls, this time for 131 yards – the Ravens defense buckled down in the red zone, holding New England to just one touchdown on four trips inside the 20-yard line.
The stout red zone D was crucial, as the Patriots managed only 13 points.
I’ll say it again – The Patriots scored THIRTEEN points.
New England put up 557 points during the regular season, 76 more than the next highest scoring team, the Denver Broncos. That’s an average of 34.8 points every time they set foot on the gridiron.
And the Ravens – the Ravens, with their “old” defense – held Brady to just 13 points over four quarters.
It was the fewest points that the Patriots had scored since Week 2…of 2009.
That’s right, it had been over three years since a Tom Brady-led squad failed to put up at least 14 points.
In addition, the Ravens didn’t let the Patriots hang a single point on the scoreboard in the second half, completely shutting out New England for the game’s final 30 minutes. It was just the second time the Pats had been shut out in any half since 2010. The Dolphins shut them out in quarters one and two in Week 16 of 2011 in a losing effort, but it was the first time any team has shut out the Pats in quarters three and four since Week 2 of 2010 when the New York Jets did it in a win.
While most of the positive talk around the Ravens leading up to Super Bowl XLVII will likely center on the “ascension” of Joe Flacco, we’re also probably going to hear a lot about how the Ravens defense is “aging” and has “lost a step.”
Why don’t you ask Tom Brady about that?
Video: Haloti Ngata tries to put the win into words