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

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Jan 10, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett (29) carries the ball as New England Patriots strong safety Patrick Chung (23) tackles in the third quarter during the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports


The Patriots started the second half receiving the ball and back on the field without Bryan Stork at center as he was out for the game with a right knee injury. Tom Brady started with an incompletion under pressure throwing the ball away and then a short completion and an incompletion to Gronkowski who was wrapped up by C.J. Mosley before the ball got to him and instead of a first down it is a three-and-out and New England giving the ball back to the Ravens. Gronkowski was incredulous as you could see his arm brace was held and pulled by Mosley while Gronkowski cut across the middle of the field for what should have been a first down.


Patrick Chung played off a Dont’a Hightower blitz and stuffed Forsett on first down. Michael Campanaro converted a first down however with a beautiful catch going to the ground. After another run stop by Sealver Siliga and Chandler Jones stop the run on first down, it was Campanaro again converting for 16 yards this time on second down. On first down Flacco went deep for the fullback (seriously!) which was nearly intercepted by Jamie Collins.


On a big third and ten from the New England forty yard line, the Patriots stopped Marlin Brown short with a big hit by Tavon Wilson with Arrington in coverage. On fourth-and-six from the 36 yard line the Ravens tried to draw New England offsides and instead burned a timeout.  Out of the timeout the Ravens decided to go for it on fourth down from a spread as Flacco found Brandon Browner in single coverage as he ran into Torrey Smith who stopped and drew the pass interference penalty but caught the ball at the one. However, a taunting penalty by Smith pushed the Ravens back to the 16, however.


Jan 10, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett (29) carries the ball as New England Patriots strong safety Patrick Chung (23) tackles in the second quarter during the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The penalty was harmless for Baltimore as Forsett was uncovered coming out of the backfield and walked in from 16 yards out on the defensive breakdown by New England. All of a sudden New England was down 28-14 after some poor defensive play and an offense incapable of extending drives and staying on the field. The pass defense has given up four touchdowns to Joe Flacco in less than three quarters.


After a drop by Shane Vereen, Brandon LaFell converted the first down with an 11 yard catch on the sidelines. Brady found Michael Hoomanawanui for 16 yards up the seam to get the ball near midfield. With Bolden at running back for Vereen, it was Brady to Gronkowski for nine more and Brady kept the ball and caught 12 Ravens on the field for the first down as the hurry up/no huddle moved the Ball into Ravens territory quickly.


Julian Edelman made a great catch with the ball between his legs to hold onto a poorly thrown pass as the Patriot moved the ball inside the ten as Hoomanawanui made his third catch of the game to set-up first-and-goal.  An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Baltimore bench pushed the ball to the five as John Harbaugh gave up five yards to give his defense a rest. After an incompletion Brady found Gronkowski on a slant abusing Will Hill to cut the lead back down to a touchdown and put pressure on the New England defense to make a play and give Brady a chance to win the game.


The New England defense held with Dont’a Hightower forced an incompletion with a hard hit on Owen Daniels and then stuffed running back Justin Forsett. After a timeout by New England, the Patriots defense held as the strong coverage forced Flacco to scramble and throw incomplete and Baltimore had to punt the ball back to the New England offense.


After a few short completions move the ball to midfield, the Patriots pulled out the trickery as Brady threw a quick screen to Julian Edelman and he set up and threw deep to Danny Amendola wide open down the sideline. The former Kent State quarterback threw a strike for his first career NFL pass to tie the game at 28. With the third quarter just beyond the halfway point, the Patriots had erased a 14-point deficit for the second time in the game. The defense finally made a big play for the Patriots on second-and-eight as Flacco tried to find Torrey Smith deep and safety Devin McCourty read it perfectly and swooped in for the interception. Unfortunately, the Ravens defense brought the heat and forced three interceptions forcing the Patriots to punt the ball right back to Baltimore. It was a golden opportunity that the Patriots could not convert.


The Ravens turned back to the running game after getting the ball back. After two runs, a holding penalty on third down on Darrelle Revis negated a sack and fumble that gave the Ravens a first down instead of the Patriots recovering the ball at the two yard line. Forsett ground out another first down on two runs. It was a huge shift in momentum that went back to Baltimore at the end of the quarter, but with just fifteen minutes left to play, the Patriots and Ravens were knotted at 28 apiece.


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