Spot On: A Six Pack of Ravens vs. Patriots Memories
Russell S. Baxter
Spot On: A Six Pack of Ravens vs. Patriots Memories
By Brandon Fazzolari
Special to Pro Football Guru
The New England Patriots have remarkably been the best football team in the NFL for two decades. During that time, they have met their fair share of challengers. During regular-season play, they often struggle when they visit Miami to play the Dolphins. In the Super Bowl, they lost both of their meetings with the New York Giants. However, it may be the Baltimore Ravens who have provided New England with their stiffest competition during the dynasty.
6. Ravens 31, Patriots 30 (2012)
This game was emotional to begin with as receiver Torrey Smith was competing following the death of his brother in a motorcycle accident just the night before. Gallantly, Smith caught two touchdowns in a back-and-forth game. The Ravens erased deficits of 13–0 in the first half and 30-21 after intermission.
In the final two minutes, a pass interference penalty on Devin McCourty put the ball at the Patriots 7-yard line and new Ravens kicker Justin Tucker booted a 27-yard field goal on the final play. The ball sailed directly over the upright and was ruled…good. Bill Belichick angrily reached for one of the referees as they were leaving the field to complain about a lack of explanation. Instead of a conversation, he received a $50,000 fine.
5. Ravens 33, Patriots 14 (2009 AFC Wild Card Playoffs)
It’s hard to imagine Tom Brady not playing well in a postseason contest. Well, it happened in the 2009 wild card round when Baltimore humbled Brady and the Patriots with a tremendous 24-0 first quarter. Ray Rice gashed the Pats with an 83-yard scamper on the opening play from scrimmage and the Ravens never looked back. Terrell Suggs, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis were at their peak on this day suffocating a Patriots’ high-powered attack that featured Randy Moss. Brady was beat to the earth while young Joe Flacco had an easy and uneventful afternoon.
4. Patriots, 35 Ravens 31 (2014 AFC Divisional Playoffs)
Baltimore was unstoppable in the first quarter with two impressive touchdown drives. The Patriots came back to tie it. In the third quarter, Baltimore regained their 14-point lead. But, again, the Patriots tied it using two innovative strategies. The first one involved using four clearly identifiable offensive linemen and another player who was lined up in a different part of the formation who declared himself as the fifth ineligible player. It worked handsomely and led to a Rob Gronkowski score. Moments later, the Patriots hit on a double pass: Brady to Edelman to Amendola and the game was tied. Down the stretch, Brady was magnificent as he connected with Brandon LaFell for the winner in a 35-31 classic.
3. Patriots 27, Ravens 24 (2007)
Bill Belichick’s undefeated Patriots took on Brian Billick’s underachieving Ravens in a Monday night thriller. On three occasions, Baltimore grabbed a seven-point lead. It was 24-20 late in the fourth when New England started a drive to keep their unblemished mark alive. After a first-down pass to Benjamin Watson and a quarterback sneak by Brady, the Pats had the ball on the Ravens’ 39-yard line. Then, things got nuts. Kevin Faulk’s reception left New England in a fourth-and-one situation. Just before the Patriots were stuffed for no gain, defensive coordinator Rex Ryan called a timeout. After a false start penalty, Brady ran for a first down on a fourth-and-six play.
Then, on a fourth-and-five, the Ravens were guilty of pass interference. Brady hit Jabar Gaffney on the next play for the go-ahead touchdown. Despite hitting a “Hail Mary” on the final play, Baltimore fell just short.
2. Ravens 28, Patriots 13 (2012 AFC Championship Game)
The Ravens hardly had a great 2012 regular season. However, spurred on by the Ray Lewis retirement tour and a riveting win in double overtime over Peyton Manning and the Broncos, they came into this game with the confidence that they could handle the Patriots even as nine-point underdogs. New England lost Rob Gronkowski to injury in their Divisional Round win over Houston and Brady struggled mightily trying to overcome that huge absence. Injuries during the game to Aqib Talib and Stevan Ridley and several drops by Wes Welker did not help the Pats cause. Still, they led 13-7 going into the second half.
After intermission, Baltimore executed at a high level on both sides of the ball, particularly in the red zone. Where Flacco, Boldin and Dennis Pitta got better as they moved the ball down the field, Brady, Welker and Aaron Hernandez simply could not finish their drives. The result was an unprecedented 21-0 second-half dominance of the Patriots in Foxborough.
1. Patriots 23, Ravens 20 (2011 AFC Championship Game)
The climactic moments of the 2011 AFC title game are the most memorable in the history of this excellent rivalry. The top two seeds in the AFC went at it toe to toe for 60 minutes in an epic. For the most part, the defenses controlled the action. In the third quarter, Flacco hit Smith for a 29-yard touchdown giving the Ravens their first lead, 17-16. The Ravens increased that lead to four when Danny Woodhead fumbled on the ensuing kickoff return.
Brady, who did not have his best stuff, rallied the Patriots to a 23-20 lead while Lewis was almost breaking Tom’s back on a QB sneak. The teams traded interceptions midway through the final quarter. It was Flacco’s turn for a rally, but the brilliant Vince Wilfork caused an incompletion and a turnover on downs. When the Ravens got the ball back, there was just 1:44 left on the clock. Flacco found a mismatch as Belichick inserted backup wide receiver Julian Edelman on the corner. Boldin made four catches on the desperate drive. With 27 seconds remaining, Flacco threw for Lee Evans in the end zone only to have Sterling Moore knock the ball loose at the last possible moment. After another incompletion, on came kicker Billy Cundiff, who missed a 32-yarder. The Patriots survived, allowing Brady and Belichick to get to their fifth Super Bowl.
Brandon Fazzolari (@spot_bills) is a lifelong Buffalo Bills fan and a Vegas sports reporter for Vegas the Network.