Last week prior to the Ravens stunning victory against Pittsburgh in their Wild Card Playoff game, I took us on a journey down memory lane by looking at three of the best victories against the Steelers and three of the most disappointing defeats.
Since the 2007 season, the biggest non-division rival for the Ravens has unquestionably been the New England Patriots. With thrilling contests in both the regular season and the Playoffs, these two teams have put together one of the better AFC rivalries in recent memory.
Coming into Saturday’s matchup in the AFC Divisional Round of the Playoffs, New England leads the overall series with Baltimore with a record of 8-3. However, Baltimore notably leads the head-to-head Playoff matchup with a record of 2-1.
The following are my choices for best moments and worst moments, in no particular order
Ravens win 28-13 at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship Game, 1/20/13
Oh how sweet this was. The Ravens avenged their loss to New England in the AFC Championship a year earlier (more on that later) with a bruising defensive effort and 21 second half points. Tom Brady put up 320 yards passing for the Pats, but two interceptions, a huge fumble by Stevan Ridley early in the 4th quarter, and key drops by more than one receiver led to zero points for New England in the second half.
Offensively for Baltimore, Joe Flacco threw for 3 TDs (one to Dennis Pitta and two to Anquan Boldin), outperforming Brady for the second straight AFC Championship Game. The Ravens would, of course, go on to beat the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII for their second league title.
Ravens win 31-30 at M&T Bank Stadium, 9/23/12 on Sunday Night Football
This game was memorable for a couple reasons:
- This was the first meeting of the Ravens and Patriots since their memorable AFC Championship game at the end of the 2011 season.
- Torrey Smith’s younger brother, 19-year-old Tevin Jones, died in a motorcycle accident only hours before the game.
Rookie Justin Tucker kicked a 27-yard field goal as time expired, exorcising the demons of Billy Cundiff (once again, more on that later) and sending the Ravens home with a thrilling last second victory against New England. Joe Flacco outplayed Tom Brady for a second straight matchup, throwing for 382 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The real story of the game though was Smith, who caught 6 passes for 127 yards and 2 touchdowns, all while dealing with the heartache of the unexpected death of his brother.
Ravens win 33-14 at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Wild Card Round of the Playoffs, 1/10/10
How much of a blow out was this game? Joe Flacco only threw for 34 yards (yes, you read that right) and the Ravens still won by more than two touchdowns.
Lead by a dominating rushing attack that obliterated the New England defense for 234 yards, the Ravens jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the first quarter, highlighted by Ray Rice’s 83-yard touchdown run on the very first play from scrimage.
Ravens lose 23-20 at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship Game, 1/22/12
You knew it was coming… Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff. Unfortunately those two gents will have their names taken in vain by Ravens fans for years to come. Sure, the Ravens ended up going all the way the very next season, but thrilling postseason glory was snatched by the jaws of defeat with the last second choke job by these two former Ravens.
Famously, Baltimore kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal that would have sent the game to OT, but instead gave the Patriots the win. However, while Cundiff will remain a goat for this game, he wasn’t the only one. Two plays prior to Cundiff’s miss and with only :22 on the clock, Ravens wide receiver Lee Evans couldn’t hold on to a 14-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco that would have put the Ravens ahead 27-23 and likely sent them to Super Bowl XLVI.
Flacco surprised many by outplaying Tom Brady in this game, throwing for 306 yards and 2 touchdowns, while also orchestrating the last minute could-have-been game-winning drive. As noted earlier, this performance would go on to be a trend rather than an anomaly over the next two games between these teams.
Ravens lose 23-20 in OT at Gillette Stadium, 10/17/10
The Ravens were ahead in this matchup with scores of 17-7 and 20-10 before finally falling to New England in OT. Joe Flacco threw for two scores to go along with his 285 yards, but it was all for naught. Tom Brady led the Patriots on scoring drives to tie the game with under two minutes remaining in the 4th quarter and win the game with under two minutes remaining in overtime. Both drives ended with Stephen Gostkowski field goals.
Ravens lose 27-21 at Gillette Stadium, 10/4/09
In a preview of sorts to what would be coming in the years ahead between these two teams, Ravens wide receiver Mark Clayton dropped a would-be game-winning touchdown pass from Joe Flacco with :32 remaining in the 4th quarter. The Ravens had battled back from being down 24-14 at the end of the 3rd quarter, but could not complete the comeback.
There you have it. Have I missed a game that you would have included? No matter the result, I would imagine this weekend’s matchup will be grouped among these six for years to come. Here’s hoping the Ravens can shock the world once again in New England.