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

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Jan 10, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan (26) breaks up a pass intended for Baltimore Ravens tight end Owen Daniels (81) in the fourth quarter during the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports


The fourth quarter opened with the Ravens continuing to run the ball with Justin Forsett topping 100 yards on the ground as he crossed midfield and gave the Ravens another first down. After a run and short pass, it was another key third down and short on the edge of field goal range. Jamie Collins forced a fourth down after Jamie Collins tipped the pass and then Logan Ryan knocked away the deflection from being caught. The Ravens went for it on fourth down again and once more Baltimore converted with a swing pass to the fullback this time.


At the New England 25 yard line the Ravens continued to push the ball forward with the running game gaining positive yards against the defense. Forsett broke free on second down and pushed the ball inside the ten yards line. The Ravens continued to move the ball after their defense stopped the offense and on third down after an incompletion the Ravens spread out the Patriots and Flacco could not connect with Owen Daniels in the back of the end zone and the Patriots held the Ravens to three points as the Ravens took the lead 31-28.


New England took over on offense for the first time in the fourth quarter down three points and in need of a drive to erase the three-and-out on the previous drive that swung momentum back to Baltimore.


Jan 10, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter against the Baltimore Ravens during the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Brady started the drive finding Brandon LaFell outside on a quick pass and then converting a first down to Edelman. Brady showed some nifty moves in the backfield to get the ball to Vereen, but he fumbled at midfield, but the play was under review although the replay clearly seemed to show that Vereen was down before Baltimore knocked the ball out.


New England retained possession fortunately and it was second and one as Brady dove ahead to convert the first down and move into Baltimore territory. After a throw away by Brady after no one worked open he found Gronkowski on a short gain to set up a key third down as the clock ticked down under eight minutes. Brady found Danny Amendola on a quick-out as the small wide receiver broke a tackle to convert the first down and extend the drive.


Two short passes to Hoomanawanui and Edelman put New England in field goal range as the clock was down to under six minutes. Finally taking a shot deep, Brady found LaFell with an over-the-shoulder throw and catch to give New England their first lead of the game as the extra point gave the Patriots a 35-31 lead. On the pass, Brady passed his childhood hero Joe Montana for the most career postseason touchdown passes with his 46th toss into the end zone in the second season.


Jan 10, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) throws the ball in front of New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones (95) in the first quarter during the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The New England defense took the field with 5:08 to play and in need of a signature stop to get to their fourth consecutive AFC Championship Game. The Ravens gained eleven as no pass rush got near Flacco and he dumped it to the fullback. A completion to Marlon Brown on the sidelines set up a second and short for Baltimore that running back Justin Forsett converted.


With clock ticking under four minutes, the Ravens continued moving the ball with the short passing game gaining seven yards on first down. A big run stop by a blitzing Dont’a Hightower and Chandler Jones made it third-and-three for the Ravens. Flacco stumbled and fortunately threw incomplete setting up a huge fourth down yet again. The Ravens were fortunate it was ruled incomplete, not a fumble as it would have backed the Ravens up at least ten yards.


Both the Ravens and then the Patriots took timeouts before the biggest play of the season for both teams. On fourth-and-three on their own 42 yard line with just 2:14 to play saw Flacco find tight end Owen Daniels for 17 yards and moving the ball into New England territory down four points at the two-minute warning. It was the Ravens’ third fourth down conversion of the game.


On first and five after an offsides penalty on New England, the Patriots forced an incompletion to stop the clock with 1:46 to play. Finally taking a shot deep with Logan Ryan covering Torrey Smith, Flacco hung the ball up hoping for a touchdown or defensive pass interference penalty, second-year safety Duron Harmon was there to cover deep and leap and intercept the pass in the end zone for a touchback.


The Ravens, with just one timeout, saw New England take the victory formation and take the knee. The Patriots ran the clock down to 14 seconds and had to punt the ball back to Baltimore. This let Flacco take a shot at a Hail Mary which was batted down. The Patriots held on to take the game and move on to the AFC Championship Game.