By: Russ Goldman
During the season after a Patriots victory I usually go back and write a post about “What We Learned From The Patriots Victory”. Several weeks ago I decided to change it, and focus on what good came out of each game. The negatives in this game were noticeable. However, I am going to bring you Five Positives To Take Away From The Patriots Victory Against The Ravens.
This was a game that was more about the defenses for both teams than the offenses. I think that was very surprising, especially from a Patriots perspective. The offense for the home-team was stifled a good amount from a tough Ravens defense.
The first half saw the Patriots offense with just one touchdown, and two field goals. The Ravens being able to force the Patriots to field goals showed how they were affecting the offense. They were more than hanging with the Patriots as the first half ended with a slim 13-10 lead for New England.
The second half again was a defensive struggle for both teams. The Patriots defense, to their credit, did something that not many predicted they could not do. They made several key plays down the stretch to win the game for the Patriots.
This game eventually came down to two plays by street free agent Sterling Moore who kept the Patriots in the lead. He broke up a sure touchdown pass to Lee Evans. He then batted away the next pass to set up the dramatic ending.
Billy Cundiff missed a 32 yard field goal, and the Patriots moved on to the Super Bowl in their 23-20 victory against the Ravens.
Now, there were certainly negatives in this game that you can point to. Tom Brady was not sharp, and did not have one of his best games throwing for 239 yards, with two interceptions, and no touchdowns.
The Patriots secondary also gave up a few big plays in the passing game. When Joe Flacco throws for 306 yards with 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception, your defensive backfield is not getting the job done.
In this game there certainly were several positives to take away in this AFC Championship Game. However, I am going to give you five that I feel are important to discuss.
1. The offensive line did their job in protecting Tom Brady. I thought this was the most important key to the game. Brady was only sacked once, and the pressure for the most part was contained.
The line deserves a good amount of credit for their job in this game. Brady seemed to have enough time overall to make plays.
2. Benjarvus Green-Ellis ran the ball effectively against the Ravens. With the Ravens playing a decent amount of the game in nickel coverage, that gave opportunities for Green-Ellis to be a factor running the ball.
He ran for 68 yards on 15 carries which is a 4.5 yards per carry average, and he also scored a touchdown. He turned out to be a pleasant surprise on offense, and the Patriots really needed his quality performance on Sunday.
3. Vince Wilfork gave a dominant performance against the Ravens. In the first few drives you could notice Wilfork collapsing the pocket back to Joe Flacco. He also stopped Ray Rice on a crucial play in the late game. He followed that up by getting pressure on Flacco on a 4th down that caused a bad pass.
He had six tackles, and one sack for the day. However, it cannot be played down what a force Wilfork was against the Ravens. He probably played his best game ever in a Patriots uniform.
4. The Patriots did a real good at stopping the run. Now, I know late in the game the Ravens were able to run the ball. However, if you look at it for four quarters, they really contained a dangerous running back in Ray Rice. He ran for 62 yards for a 3.2 yard per carry average.
Rice and Ricky Williams combined for 89 yards which is a 3.3 yard per carry average. In my book that is getting it done.
5. The Patriots won a game when Tom Brady played a below average game for his standards. If you would have told me that Brady would throw two interceptions, and have no touchdown passes, I would have told you the Patriots would lose the game.
Well, they were able to overcome the issues on offense, and the defense wasn’t perfect, but did make crucial plays when it needed to. I must have heard over the past six months from the media, can the Patriots win a game when the offense isn’t clicking on all cylinders? I guess the Patriots proved that they certainly can, as they are now headed to the Super Bowl.
Overall this was a very tough game that we saw could have gone either way. However, in the end, the Patriots made a few more plays to win the game. No matter how this victory is spun the next two weeks, just remember that a win is a win. It doesn’t matter how they got to Indianapolis. The most important thing is the New England Patriots are headed to the Super Bowl.
As we get ready for the Super Bowl against the Giants, I am sure we will be spun the negatives of this Patriots team. My advice is to remember the positives from this game, and and let’s look forward to what should be a good game.