Some people may say that the New England Patriots lucked out completely, which they did in the end, but this game wasn’t all based on luck. The maligned Patriots defense has been ridiculed all season for being the second worst defese in yards allowed, the defense has stepped up in a major way this post season. The Patriots completely shut down the Denver Broncos in the AFC Divisional Round, allowing only 10 points. The Broncos didn’t have the best offense in the league, though. They rely on a ground and pound offense in a league that likes to air out the ball. The Broncos also didn’t score many points this season, relying on quarterback Tim Tebow’s “miracles” that helped the team come out with a dramatic win in the last few seconds of the game, or overtime. Critics and doubters of the Patriot defense figured that this game was a fluke becasue the Broncos offense was so bad.
Most people figured that the Patriots defense would struggle against an above average Ravens offense, led by Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice. This game would be a serious test to see how good the Patriots defense really is. In the 2009 AFC Wild Card round, the Patriots faced the Ravens. On the first play from scrimmage, Ray Rice slipped thorugh a hole in the defense and gashed the secondary with his blistering speed for an 81 yard touchdown. The game finished 33-14. Geuss who won?
Now in 2012, the Patriots faced the Ravens in the AFC Championship game. Winner gets to go to the Super Bowl, and the loser has to go home. Tom Brady and the Patriots potent offense struggled throughout the whole game. Even when Brandon Spikes intercepted Joe Flacco in the fouth quarter, Tom Brady through a pick on the next play. Two interceptions is not a typical Tom Brady day, and let’s pray that that doesn’t happen in the Super Bowl. The maligned defense was the Patriots savior, coming up with huge plays late in the game. One was the Brandon Spikes interception. Another, and probably the most important play of the whole season, was when Sterling Moore stripped Lee Evans of the sure touchdown that would have given the Ravens the lead with less than a minute left. Nobody had ever heard of Sterling Moore before, who started his season on the practice squad of the Oakland Raiders. Then, with about 15 seconds left in the game, the Patriots got a stroke of luck. The Ravens decided to kick the field goal to tie the game with a few seconds left. The ball was snapped to the holder, who quickly turned the ball 140 degrees and placed it on the ground. The Ravens kicker, Billy Cundiff, approached the ball with the intentions to send this game into overtime. His foot accelerated foward and smashed the ball up. For a second, it looked like it would be good, but suddenly it began to spin quickly a was spun wide to the left of the goal post. The stadium errupted with cheers and the Patriots players ran onto the field. The only thing the Ravens legendary linebacker, Ray Lewis, could do was look in utter shock as his team missed out on the opprotunity to go to the Super Bowl. I think that Owner Robert Kraft’s late wife Myra pushed that kick left. The season was dedicated to her, and after Ben Jarvis Green Ellis scored a touchdown earlier in the game, he passionately pointed to the Myra’s initials MHK on his jersey. Now, the Patriots are in Indianapolis, preparing to take on the Giants in the biggest sporting event of the year. The Super Bowl.
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Wow. The New England Patriots are headed to Indianapolis to play in the Super Bowl. It was most definitely not a pretty game. Tom Brady was not playing at his best, throwing two picks. This was a defensive game, and all though the Patriots defense gave up a lot of big plays, they came through with a few clutch plays at the end. I feel badly for the Ravens kicker, Billy Cundiff, who missed the game tying field goal with 11 seconds left, but, it happens to all of us, and it sealed the Patriots victory. I can’t describe how happy I am right now. Tom Brady was right in his speech, he “sucked pretty bad”, but we still came out with the win. I am confident that he will perform well in the Super Bowl. Like I said in my keys to the game, Vince Wilfork had a great game with six tackles and one sack. The most important play of the game was when Lee Evans caught a pass from Joe Flacco in the end zone, but Sterling Moore stripped him. Also Sterling more made a nice pass block a moment later. I am excited to see who the Patriots are playing next after the 49er’s-Giants game.
*Picture from http://www.espn.go.com/nfl*
The New England Patriots are set to play the Baltimore Ravens tomorrow at 3pm ET. This is going to be an exciting matchup between the Patriots Record setting offense and the Ravens amazing defense. The last time these two teams matched up in the playoffs was in the wildcard round of the playoffs in 2009, when the Ravens stampeded the Patriots 33-14. Ray Rice was a huge difference maker in that matchup, and I expect him to be the Ravens key player on offense in Sunday. The Ravens key player on defense is predictably going to be Ed Reed. Reed hurt his ankle in last Sundays game against the Houston Texans, but he is expected to play tomorrow. He is one of the best safeties ever and if they Ravens won’t to try and stop Tom Brady, Ed Reed will be the key.
Now to the Patriots. Something important to watch will be the two tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, matched up against the Ravens physical line backers. Gronkowski and Hernandez are a nightmare to cover, given their sizeand speed, so we may even see Ed Reed covering them. I think the key to the Patriots offense will be Deion Branch. He quietly caush a 61 yard touchdown pass in last weeks game against the Denver Broncos. While the Ravens will be trying to cover tightly Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez, this may leave Deion Branch open make game changing plays. Although he has lost some speed with age, he is still capable of breaking off and making big plays with his feet. On defense I think the key will be Vince Wilfork. He didn’t have the best regular season of his career, but I think he can, and will, step up this post season. He will be vital to stopping the Ravens running attack, led by pro bowl running back Ray Rice. In the first play from scrimmage of the matchup against the Ravens in 2009, Ray Rice exploded for an 83 yard touchdown. We cannot afford to let up any big plays in this game. Wilfork will have to clog up the wholes and stop Ray Rice if the Patriots want to win on defense. This is going to be an exciting game and the winner will get to play in the biggest sporting event of the year. The Super Bowl.
There have been rumors circulating that the Celtics have been receiving calls about Paul Pierce’s availability for a trade. Owner Danny Ainge even made comments about the possibility to trade one of them to prevent the Celtics from going into a slump in years to come, by adding younger players. What do you think the Celtics should do?