Rice Leads Run Game Over Pats; 33-14

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It was clear after the first snap of today’s game what the Ravens game plan was all about. The unfortunate thing for New England was they couldn’t stop it.

Ray Rice squirted off guard for an 83-yd touchdown run to set the tone for the game. But it didn’t stop there as the Ravens ran, ran and then ran some more. In fact they rushed the ball 52 times for a total of 234 yards. It didn’t matter who ran or where or when the Patriots simply could not slow them down.

However, it wasn’t just the running game that hurt New England as the Baltimore defense was in attack mode all game. They pressured quarterback Tom Brady into four turnovers and a quarterback rating of 49.1.

It started with Terrell Suggs, who beat the Tackle and forced a Brady fumble on the game’s fifth play. Five plays later, all runs All-Pro Fullback Le’Ron Mc’Clain rumbled in the end zone from a yard out to push the score to 14-0 just four minutes into the game.

After an exchange of possession, Jarret Johnson charged into Brady’s direction and forced a poor pass that was picked by Chris Carr. Once again Baltimore worked their way down field and Ray Rice rushed for his second touchdown of the day. After a Billy Cundiff 27 yd field goal the Ravens would finish the quarter with all the points they would need to finish the game.

Brady was able to get his offense into the end zone after taking advantage of a punt return miscue. The punt grazed off Tom Zbikowski’s back and rolled towards the sideline where it was recovered by New England. There was some question if they maintained possession as he rolled out of bounds. None the less, Brady tossed the first of two touchdowns to Wes Welker’s replacement, Julian Edelman from 6 yards out to close the half at 24-7.

Second half wasn’t much better for Brady and his offense as he threw his third interception of the day, this one grabbed by Dawan Landry. That turnover led to another Cundiff field goal.

Brady was able to hit for another touchdown hook up to Edelman towards the end of the third to cut the lead to 27-14. But it would be all they could muster against a defense that appeared ready from the outset.

Willis McGahee capped the scoring with one final touchdown with about 10:30 remaining to put the game out of reach.

In the end Baltimore was able to do what they needed to give the Patriots their first home playoff loss since 1978. They dominated the lines on both sides, pressured the quarterback and took advantage of turnovers.

The Ravens will now travel for another re-match, this time with the number one seeded Indianapolis Colts this Saturday night.

POINTS TO PONDER

Could the Ravens have started any better today?

One of the biggest complaints this season has been the Ravens slow starts, especially on the road. Rice erased any worry of that. The concerns over the defense, especially the secondary having trouble with Tom Brady were answered most of the day. The defense pressured consistently and the corners pressed up and forced turnovers. If it were a boxing match the Ravens hit a few haymakers early and the Patriots offered little response. But, honestly I thought we had the talent to play with them but not dominate them as they did.

Should we be worried about Joe Flacco?

He looked slow and out of sorts most of the day. Perhaps there was more to the reports of a hip injury than people thought. It was a good thing that Baltimore didn’t need him to make more plays because I’m not sure how he would have performed. He only threw 10 passes all game and his interception was a very poor read on his part, as if he just picked a spot and threw it. However he just needs to make a few plays and manage the game and they can still win and in convincing fashion. But I don’t care what anyone says, the boy doesn’t look right. So rest up Joe we will need you.

Who was the Offensive player of the game?

Ray Rice ran for 159 and 2 touchdowns. It makes sense to put the ball in the hands of your playmakers and Rice is that guy. McGahee was effective as a compliment as well. You’d like to see the receivers get more involved but they just don’t get open very much. Clayton had a great catch on an overthrown ball and Demetrius Williams almost held on to a deep try. In order to advance they will need to make few more plays downfield next week.

The offensive line was dominating. No matter what the situation they ran when they wanted to. That was most impressive.

Who was the Defensive player of the game?

Ray Lewis had 13 tackles and his first sack of the playoffs. The emotional leader would not be denied today. The entire defense had a business like demeanor to it as they rarely celebrated after plays. Mattison dialed up some good pressures and it was a good sign to see the marquee players contribute. Suggs with a strip and Reed with a pick, though he just can’t help himself with those laterals.

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