Jan 10, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith (89) catches the ball to score a touchdown in front of New England Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) in the first quarter during the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
The New England Patriots hosted the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Divisional Round and “hosted” was the right word in the first quarter. The Patriots invited the Ravens into their home and made them comfortable. The New England defense let the Ravens offense do whatever they wanted on their first two drives as quarterback Joe Flacco completed 9 of 10 passes on the first two drives for 109 yards and two touchdowns while Justin Forsett rumbled for almost 7 yards a carry with 5 rushes for 34 yards.
Flacco spread the ball to seven different receivers attacking the Patriots defense and sitting back in the pocket without any pass rush from New England. Chandler Jones generated no pressure despite lining up across from rookie free agent James Hurst at left tackle. Flacco had all day in a clean pocket and just picked apart the Patriots and getting big chunks of yards.
Jan 10, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) celebrates after the Ravens
New England’s first drive started with Danny Amendola fumbling the opening kickoff and the Patriots fortunate to recover the ball. The drive ended with a third-down catch by Amendola overturned by replay and the Patriots punting the ball back to Baltimore. On their second drive the Patriots unleashed Rob Gronkowski as he converted a third-and-eight with a 16 yard catch and then ran straight through the Ravens secondary with a 46 yard catch to set-up New England in the red zone.
After a 13 yard catch by Julian Edelman made it first-and-goal at the one, the Ravens defense repeated their red zone stand against Pittsburgh last week as they dropped LeGarrette Blount for a four yard loss and then quarterback Tom Brady missed Edelman on second down. On third down, Brady was able to tuck and run the ball up the middle and into the end zone for a touchdown to cut the Baltimore lead to 14-7 as the first quarter had less than a minute to play.
(Click NEXT to continue)