NFL Playoffs: Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots First Half Thoughts
Despite how versatile and resourceful the Patriots are with their secondary, the loss of Aqib Talib and Patrick Chung is brutal and could really harm them later on if the Ravens have to take to the air. Even if Talib comes back into the game, once you’ve strained your hamstring in a game, it’s a nearly nigh on impossible task to keep it loose and limber, especially in the January cold of Foxborough. Talib’s coverage on Anquan Boldin was exemplary during his time on the field because he matches up so well physically and athletically with Q and the type of game he plays.
The Ravens showed just how playoff-savvy they are by giving both Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce a fairly equal amount of touches, this was especially prevalent on the drive that lead to the Rice touchdown run where Pierce broke a couple of nice runs before Rice came in near the goal line and sealed the deal. This policy is meant to utilize both back’s main talents as well as keeping them fresh for later in the game when every touch will matter.
By far the most dangerous Patriot on the field so far tonight has been Wes Welker who has carved up the Ravens in the pass game as well as on special teams. I’m sure the Ravens have been focusing in on how to stop him from the slot all week but clearly some more adjustments have to be made during the break to really limit the shifty receivers effectiveness on both offense and special teams.
With the Patriots only managing to get three points at the end of the half it means the game is still wide open and the Ravens can stick to their game plan so look for a heavy does of the run and play action on the opening drive of the second half.
This game is heating up nicely and looks likely to be another classic finish so keep calm and watch football!
Let me know your thoughts on the game by tweeting me @rosswatson20.