By: Steve Grogan & R.R. Marshall - Presented By Frank 106.3 Frank FM
December 27, 2013

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R.R.Marshall -- Steve, it was another brutal physical contest in the Patriots and Ravens series, but this time it was the Patriots that delivered the butt-whooping, to the tune of 41-7, the worst loss ever suffered by the Ravens in their history at home. I guess what a difference a week makes?

Steve Grogan: Sometimes a week makes a huge difference. I thought the Patriots, the way they ran the ball Sunday, just really got physical with the Ravens. I know Joe Flacco was hurt a little bit but the Ravens just didn't look like the Ravens of old. They looked like a team that was searching for something to work and couldn't find it.

RRM: Bill Belichick surprised everyone by cancelling practice last Friday and taking his team to the movies to see Mark Wahlberg in "Lone Survivor" and all I can say is that must be one inspirational movie?

SG: Apparently it was, it seemed to work. The score didn't indicate how close the game was for a long time. I mean, they got the two easy touchdowns in the last two minutes, but to me this is encouraging. To see them become physical, being able to run the football this time of year, everybody always talks about how important it is to do that. They came out Sunday and pretty much imposed their will against the Ravens, especially with the offense.

RRM: For once the Patriots started fast, running up 17 quick points before the Ravens had a chance to blink. Did you feel that the fast start was really the big key in the win for the Patriots?

SG: I think that was one of the big keys of the game was to come out, play well, and get ahead early. They hadn't done that in quite a while and I'm sure that bolstered their confidence and made them play even better as the game went on.

RRM: Well, the Patriots' offense was sufficient but not necessarily prolific. Their defense put the clamps on Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense right from the start and never relented. Were you surprised they were able to put forth such an effort from start to finish?

SG: Yes, I was. I was surprised that they got as much pressure on Flacco as they did Sunday. He's a little bit in the same kind of boat as Tom Brady. He doesn't really have the receivers that he's used to having in the past, so he's struggling a little bit. He's still a good quarterback, but I thought the defense really played well against him Sunday. They did allow 100-yards on the ground, but Flacco just couldn't find anything to get going in the passing game. So what I saw was encouraging defensively.

RRM: The Ravens looked emotionally flat coming off that last-second Monday night football win in Detroit. Did the Monday night jinx raise its ugly head and strike again, or did the Ravens take a bit too much for granted given their success against the Patriots in recent years?

SG: I think coming off the Monday night game, playing at home, they probably figured they had a pretty good chance of winning that football game. I don't think they expected to have happen to them what did, to get blown out of the stadium. They may meet again in the playoffs but I wouldn't want to play them again because I don't think they'll play that poorly next time.

RRM: Flacco hurt his left knee in that game and his effectiveness was suspect going into this game against the Patriots, but I thought he was guilty more of making poor decisions rather than poor throws. What did you think?

SG: Yes, he made a lot of poor decisions. It looked like he tried to force the ball. I don't think that had anything to do with his knee injury. He moved around a couple of times, didn't look like it was bothering him that bad. When you're a pocket passer anyway, the left knee shouldn't be a major factor in throwing the ball. So I just thought he was trying to force things a little bit too much Sunday.

RRM: Shane Vereen was hurt early in the game, necessitating more playing time for Stevan Ridley. But were you surprised to see him getting the ball in the fourth quarter and running between the tackles when the Patriots were trying to drain the clock?

SG: When they were trying to run the clock out and to give the ball to Ridley, it tells you that Bill Belichick is either desperate, or he's decided that Ridley's a guy that's learned his lesson and can make plays for him. I think he knows that Ridley is a kid that's going to make plays for him and I think he's learned his lesson because he's had both of his hands wrapped on that ball most of the time on Sunday.

RRM: While the victory was sweet, the number of flags thrown in this game made watching it excruciating at times. Did the refs get a little overzealous, or was the play on the field that ragged?

SG: I thought it was awful. You hate to watch a football game when there's a flag every two plays. I thought they just got a little overzealous. Maybe they hadn't had enough TV time recently and wanted to make sure they got their faces on there. But they just went overboard with the flags and that's unfortunate because it just slows the game down so much that neither team can get in a really good rhythm when that kind of thing is happening.

RRM: Well certainly this victory has boosted the morale of all the Patriots fans in Patriots Nation, given that they were so down after the Miami defeat. But does a victory like this against a team that has physically dominated them over the last six years provide a huge boost for this team heading into the playoffs?

"He'll never admit it, but I think anytime you're playing somebody that's given you a hard time and really been spouting off, it feels pretty good to shut them up." - Steve Grogan (USA TODAY Images)

SG: Yes, I think it's a good omen not only for the fans, but for the team. I think it gives the team a lot of confidence that a team that has given them problems on and off over the years, they played well against them in their home stadium. That's got to give them some confidence going into the playoffs. They're playing well and they were clicking on all cylinders Sunday. Now that could change this week, but I don't see that happening. I just think they're rising to the occasion at the proper time of year.

RRM: It's well known that Terrell Suggs and Tom Brady don't like each other and Suggs has voiced that opinion on many occasions and he got a couple of sacks against Brady in the game. But do you think Tom Brady gets any personal satisfaction in this one-sided win over the loud-mouthed Ravens?

SG: He'll never admit it, but I think anytime you're playing somebody that's given you a hard time and really been spouting off, it feels pretty good to shut them up.

RRM: Can you think about anything that's similar in that fashion when you were playing? Did you have a personal rivalry with a defensive player on another team?

SG: No. Back in my day there was no ESPN, you didn't hear a lot of that kind of stuff. Today with the media and the internet, and Twitter, and all that, there's a lot more going on between players than back when I was playing.

RRM: Well, with all of the upsets on Sunday a number of teams are still alive for that last Wild Card spot in the AFC. I remember, you played back on that 1980 New England team that needed help on the last day of the season but didn't get it and ended up out of the playoffs. What is it like going into your last game knowing that not only do you have to win, but that someone else has to lose for you to get to the postseason?

SG: It's an awful feeling. Part of it's in your control but a lot of it's out of your control and you have to go out and play hard and hope the right things fall your way. You're kind of up in the air until Sunday night when all the games are finished, and that's not a good way to miss the playoffs. It can be really nerve-wracking and frustrating.

RRM: Speaking of losses, those media darlings, the Miami Dolphins, were a fish out of water in Buffalo and got shut out coming off their big win over the Patriots. If that loss costs them the postseason, is that the kind of game that will make an owner look at his head coach with a little more scrutiny?

SG: They laid an egg on Sunday, that's for sure. And against a team that wasn't nearly as good as them, although they were playing in Buffalo. I think coach Philbin has done a pretty good job and probably deserves to come back and get another chance and I would be surprised if he didn't.

RRM: Those same Bills will be in Foxboro on Sunday to close out the season and the Patriots have something to play for, needing to win to at least secure that second seed in the AFC and a bye in the first round of the playoffs. What kind of game are you expecting between these two long time AFC East rivals?

SG: I would expect Bill Belichick to make it very clear to his team how important this game is to them. And on the other side you have a Buffalo team that wants to be a spoiler, and wants to go into Foxboro and make sure the Patriots don't get that number two spot. Or you've got a Buffalo team that knows their season is over with and all they want to do is get on the plane, go back, and jump in their cars that are probably already loaded to head home for the offseason. So hopefully we get that and not the other.

RRM: What are Grogan's Grades for the 41-7 rout of the Ravens?

SG: I was impressed with all three phases of the game Sunday. I give them all 'A's". I thought they did what they had to do against a team that's given them trouble in the past. They went into Baltimore and just played a pretty flawless game all the way around.

RRM: Any game balls?

SG: Julian Edelman was impressive in the passing game, and I think Logan Mankins moving out to left tackle and protecting Brady as well as he did was pretty impressive.

RRM: We'd like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and we'll obviously be back here to do a New Year's eve wrap up of the Buffalo game and look ahead to the playoffs.

SG: Wish everyone a Merry Christmas and we'll start the New Year, or close to the New Year, next week hopefully on a great note!

GROGAN'S GRADES WEEK 16

OFFENSE: A
DEFENSE: A
SPECIAL TEAMS: A

OVERALL: A


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