Instant Analysis: New England Patriots Defeat Baltimore Ravens 35-31

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Jan 10, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith (82) catches the ball in front of New England Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner (39) during the third quarter in the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports


The second quarter started with a big penalty involving Patriots quarterback Brandon Browner and Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith downfied. However, this was no defensive pass interference call on Browner but a crippling 15-yard unnecessary roughness call on Smith which made a third-and-six into a third-and-twenty-one. The Patriots stopped the attempted screen and got the ball right back to the offense.


New England drove the ball initially with Brady in the no huddle/hurry-up as he found Brandon LaFell, Edelman, and Shane Vereen as they moved down the field in a rush. The drive stalled, however, as Brady was sacked on second-and-ten and then third-and-sixteen. The first sack saw Baltimore rookie Timmy Jernigan overpower Ryan Wendell and charge into the backfield. Player got chippy after the next sack as Brady held onto the ball too long and absorbed a sack. There was pushing and shoving after the play as Brady was upset about the overly aggressive take-down.


After pinning Baltimore inside the ten, a taunting penalty on New England’s Chris White gave the Ravens much better field position. Another couple of strong runs by Forsett had Baltimore moving the ball quickly upfield. A screen pass that lost seven yards set-up a key third-and-twelve for the Ravens. Aggressive coverage by Devin McCourty on tight end Owen Daniels denied the completion and forced another punt as the defense again got the ball back in short order.


Jan 10, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots center Bryan Stork (66) lays on the ground after being injured during the second quarter in the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

For the offense, they went back to the field with Ryan Wendell at center and Josh Kline in at guard as center Bryan Stork had injured his right knee on the last play of the previous drive. The fumbles continued as Julian Edelman fumbled after an 11 yard first down catch. For the second time in the first half the Patriots were fortunate to recover their own fumble. On third down it was again Gronkowski with the huge conversion with a 23 yard catch and run.


After an illegal contact penalty on Baltimore and then a pass behind Gronkowski fell incomplete and a short run by Brandon Bolden, it was another big third down for the New England offense. Brady stood in the pocket and found LaFell for another big first down and moving the Patriots inside the red zone again. Danny Amendola made a shoestring catch and then broke a tackle and launched himself into the end zone to tie the game at 14 after falling behind 14-0 early.


Baltimore took over with just over three minutes to play before the half. On a big third down and short, the Ravens tried an end around to Michael Campanaro which was blown up by veteran Vince Wilfork. Wilfork was not fooled by the play and exploded into the backfield and forced Campanaro into the arms of Rob Ninkovich who stopped him short of the first down as play stopped for the two-minute warning with a huge three-and-out forced by the defense to get the ball back for the offense.


Jan 10, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (47) carries the ball as Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Daryl Smith (51) and Ravens defensive back Rashaan Melvin (38) tackle in the fourth quarter during the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

After two short passes to Amendola, it was the recently extended Brandon Bolden plowing ahead for two yards on a key third down and short to extend the drive. That was only the Patriots’ eighth rushing attempt for 8 just 18 yards as New England used the passing game almost exclusively to gain yardage. Out of a timeout, the Patriots were backed up by a false start by Gronkowski put the Patriots in a first-and-fifteen. Trying to hit Gronkowski deep in the middle, Brady was intercepted by veteran inside linebacker Daryl Smith getting the Raven the ball with a minute to play in the first half.


The Ravens got a gift pass interference call as veteran Steve Smith drew the call on Darrelle Revis and gave the Ravens the ball deep in New England territory. Revis appeared to have good position in front of Smith and was turned back looking for the ball but the officials saw his arm barring Smith’s arm. Two plays later Flacco found Owen Daniels in the back of the end zone shaking free of Dont’a Hightower and all the hard work to tie the game saw the Ravens going ahead 21-14 with ten second to play in the half.


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