Patriots fans can’t seem to look at Sunday’s AFC championship game against the Baltimore Ravens without thinking back to the 2009 Wild Card game where the Patriots were demolished by the Ravens, losing 34-14. The Pats were down 24-0 by the end of the first quarter, and the route was on. RB Ray Rice had an 83-yard touchdown run on the opening offensive play of the game. Tom Brady committed four turnovers (3 INTs, 1 fumble), the first of which was a fumble on the Patriots’ first offensive possession, setting up another Ravens touchdown. Ouch.
However, during the 2010 regular season, the Patriots got a measure of revenge, defeating the Ravens in overtime 23-20. It was Deion Branch’s first game back in New England, and he provided the team with a key touchdown (check out my breakdown of the play HERE). The win did much to lift the team’s spirits after the loss to the Ravens in the playoffs the previous season, even with Bill Belichick calling it, “a good win.”
Let’s take a little deeper look down memory lane.
After the Ravens’ playoff win, I dissected three big plays that really broke the Patriots’ backs: Ray Rice’s 83-yard TD run, Terrell Suggs’ strip sack of Tom Brady on the Pats’ first offensive series, and Chris Carr’s interception of Brady. You can check that out HERE, as the Patriots will be facing the same players running similar, if not identical, plays.
Remember after that playoff loss to the Ravens the very open questioning of Tom Brady and what he has left? There numerous calls to trade Brady, causing me to write this piece defending Tom Brady. He has since had two of the best statistical seasons of his career.
Before the playoff game and then the regular season rematch between the two teams, I provided five keys to victory for the Pats. Many of the same keys apply to the AFC championship game this Sunday. Before the playoff contest, I wrote about gap discipline to prevent a big run by Ray Rice, giving the offensive tackles help against the pass rush, and getting Joe Flacco out of the pocket and on the move (link HERE). All of these keys are applicable now. All of my five keys before the regular season rematch last season are all applicable for this Sunday, just swap out a couple of the old players’ names with the new ones. Check that out HERE.
While the Pats have owned the Ravens in the regular season (6-0), the Ravens have won the only playoff contest between the two teams. Which history has the most weight for this Sunday?