Game Recap: New England Patriots Beat Baltimore Ravens

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Dec 22, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; New England Patriots running back LaGarrette Blount (29) celebrates his touchdown run against the Baltimore Ravens at M

The Patriots came out against Baltimore trying to establish the running game early.  They started their first two drives with running back LeGarrette Blount in the backfield to start the game again in place of Stevan Ridley. After two running plays netted only five yards, the Patriots could not convert their first third down and had to punt after going three-and-out to start the game.

 

On their second drive, a nifty cutback by Blount on second down converted a first down for fourteen yards. With Shane Vereen in the game, he was fed the ball twice running the ball to set-up a third-and-four.  With the Patriots offensive line picking up a blitz, Brady was able to step-up and find tight end Michael Hoomanawanui for his first completion of the game.

 

On the next play, wide receiver Julian Edelman beat Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith and drew a 34 yard pass interference penalty in the endzone. On first and goal, the Patriots got on the board with running back LeGarrette Blount pounding it in from a yard away to make it 7-0 New England.

 

Quarterback Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens started the game going deep early.  On the second play of the game Flacco almost had wide receiver Torrey Smith downfield deep for a big play.  Smith had beat rookie cornerback Logan Ryan with a double move and was open but the ball was underthrown. Patriots safety Devin McCourty got back deep to disrupt the reception and prevent a big play. The Ravens were unable to convert a third and five and punted away going three-and-out to start the game.

 

On their second drive of the game, rookie cornerback Logan Ryan atoned for his misstep on the first drive and intercepted Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco.  Trying to lob it over linebacker Dont’a Hightower to Jacoby Jones but Hightower was able to tip it and Ryan made a nice play to grab it.

 

Running back Steven Ridley was back in the backfield running hard for New England. With another penalty on the secondary, this time cornerback LarDarius Webb bumped Julian Edelman off his route and automatic first down.  On third-and-five the Ravens simply failed to cover wide receiver Danny Amendola who was wide open in the middle of the field. Kudos to the Patriots’ offensive line which gave quarterback Tom Brady time to step up and hit Amendola.  A broken tackle later and it was first-and-goal at the six.

 

On second-and-goal from the three yard line after a three yard run by Ridley, Brady found running back Shane Vereen in the right flat out of the backfield for another six points. Suddenly it was 14-0 New England with five minutes to play in the first quarter and the pressure was squarely on the home team.

 

Unfortunately for the Ravens, after a first down by a couple strong runs from Ray Rice, Flacco again had difficulty passing the ball again. An incompletion to wide receiver Torrey Smith over the middle should have been intercepted. Flacco threw the ball about five yards behind Smith who was crossing the middle of the field.  On third and five, Flacco simply fell down and gave the Patriots a gift sack.

 

Closing out the first quarter, the Patriots came out strong with a completing to Julian Edelman going for seventeen yards over the middle. On the next play, LeGarrette Blount went for eleven yards and put New England at the Baltimore 36 yard line.  Then the wheels fell off. Blount was blasted for a three yard loss and Shane Vereen limped off the field on the next play. However, a screen pass to backup running back Brandon Bolden netted twelve yards and almost converted the third-and-thirteen. That got the Patriots back into field goal range and kicker Stephen Gostkowski made a forty-five yard field goal to make it 17-0 to open the second quarter.

 

On the Ravens opening drive of the second quarter, the Ravens had a nice third down conversion to start the drive with a fifteen yard completion to Bernard Pierce with Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones on top of quarterback Joe Flacco.  After that, however, Flacco was almost intercepted by Patriots safety Devin McCourty on a deep overthrow.  On the next play, the Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia dialed up the cornerback blitz. Slot cornerback Kyle Arrington came in unblocked and sacked Flacco to force another punt.

 

The Patriots came back with running back Stevan Ridley back behind quarterback Tom Brady initially.  After another completion to who else but wide receiver Julian Edelman, the Patriots moved towards midfield and replaced Ridley with Brandon Bolden with Shane Vereen still out with a groin injury.  After a false start on right tackle Marcus Cannon moved the Patriots back five yards Baltimore dialed up a blitz and got a sack on third-and-nine and forced the Patriots to punt.

 

As Baltimore took over after a strong punt by Ryan Allen and strong special teams coverage by Matthew Slater pinned the Ravens at the ten, Flacco made a big play in the passing game finding tight end Ed Dickson for seventeen yards. Dont’a Hightower left injured on the play.  The Ravens continued to find the running back out of the backfield with a dump-off to Ray Rice for a first down and the Patriots lost safety Steve Gregory on the play as he limped off with a knee/ankle injury.

 

On third-and-six the Patriots defense stepped up with a big play again as defensive end Rob Ninkovich beat offensive right tackle Michael Oher with a nice inside move to get to Flacco and sack him to end the drive. This was sack number three to this point of the game and all three came on third down to force a punt.

 

New England moved the ball quickly near midfield with less than five minutes before the half as Brady found Edelman for the third time, this reception for seventeen yards. A twelve yard completion on second-and-seven to Danny Amendola saw Jameel McClain force a fumble that was immediately sent up for a review with 2:40 to play in the half and the ball was down before the fumble per the official review. New England remained in possession at the Baltimore forty-six yard line. The officials made it up to the Ravens as back-to-back holding penalties made it first-and-thirty. Two Blount rushes made it third-and-seven, but another holding penalty was declined and three penalty flags more later it was off to the half with the Patriots ahead 17-0.

 

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