Here is this week’s New England Patriots game grades:
Passing Offense: A
The Pats got off to a rough start in this department, and when center Bryan Stork left in the first half with a knee injury, the interior of the offensive line made it tough for Tom Brady to do anything through the air. But eventually they settled down, and coupled with stellar play from the two tackles, Brady lit up Baltimore’s weak pass defense to rally the Patriots back to advance.
Rob Gronkowski was awesome as usual, as his presence on the field opened up a lot of opportunities for Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola, and even Michael Hoomanawanui. When number 87 is healthy, this offense is lethal, and that was exactly the case on Saturday night. Tom Brady was his usual playoff self, as he added another game winning drive in the playoffs to his resume.
Rushing Offense: F
Considering the Patriots didn’t run a true rushing play in the second half, it’s hard to give them anything better than a failing grade. It seemed like New England came into this game admitting defeat on the ground, and their 13 carries for 14 yards backed that up.
Pass Defense: B-
They got off to a rough start, but eventually Darrelle Revis and the guys in the back end got their act together, and put the clamps on Joe Flacco and company in the second half. Duron Harmon came up with a huge interception on Baltimore’s last drive of the game to send the Pats to the AFC Championship game, and surprisingly, Logan Ryan filled in for Brandon Browner quite admirably, and was a big part of the Patriots’ last stand.
New England’s pass rush was a big problem, as Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower weren’t used much in blitzes up the middle, and Chandler Jones was completely ineffective on the edge. This will need to change this next week against Andrew Luck and the Colts.
Run Defense: D
I was really surprised at how the Ravens dominated the Pats at the point of attack, as they ran the ball at will for most of the game. Vince Wilfork, Sealver Siliga, Alan Branch, and the rest of the front seven couldn’t get any penetration into the backfield, and Collins and Hightower were slow in filling the running lanes.
Baltimore racked up 136 yards on the ground, and averaged nearly five yards a pop. The defense as a group struggled, but the guys up front were particularly bad.
Special Teams: B+
Not much to report on this aspect of the game. Although the Patriots did limit kick returner Jacoby Jones, who coming into the game, was one of the best returners in the league.