Sometimes things just happen for a reason. For the past week, most NFL pundits have said that the reason the New England Patriots were going to beat the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship game, and punch their ticket to the Super Bowl. This was because the Patriots were far superior at quarterback, and Tom Brady would simply will his team to win, while Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco would cave under the pressure. But, things don’t always work out as one would expect.
Both teams started off a little flat, and it wasn’t until the 2nd quarter that the offenses started to heat up. We jump to the second half and a strange thing happened. The future Hall of Fame quarterback, who is supposed to own the 2nd half of big games; this being Tom Brady crumbled while the much maligned quarterback, who everyone said had no business going this far shined. And when I say history tells us this was supposed to be a Brady win, I mean it. Until tonight Brady had been 67-0 when leading at halftime. 67-0 is a ridiculous statistic. However, history was made today, not repeated.
But this night belonged to Flacco. He was masterful in the 2nd half. It was clear he and his coaching staff got together at halftime and figured out that the Patriots defense was working hard to slow down running back Ray Rice and the over the top deep pass. So they went in and using wide receiver Anquan Boldin and tight end Dennis Pitta began to attack the intermediate part of the field. It was brilliant coaching and brilliant execution. The Patriots stuck to their defensive plan, and had on answer for the changes the Ravens made.
And what we saw from Brady was a quarterback who didn’t play with the confidence and cool we’ve all come to expect. He was working hard to keep the nose of the ball down to cut the wind, and it was forcing his throws low, some going into the ground and others getting tipped at the line. The gameplan was there. The play calls were there. But the Patriots did not execute. This goes beyond Brady. The offensive line was outplayed and there were too many dropped passes.
Over the next two weeks the Super Bowl is going to be picked apart on every level. So for tonight, I congratulate the Ravens and their fans on a night when they outplayed the Patriots on every level and earned their trip to New Orleans. This game wasn’t as close as the score, and there is no silver lining for Patriots fans. A better team went into their house and beat them soundly. Even in the final minutes when you assumed the Patriots would rally, the Ravens simply denied them one more time.
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