Congratulations Ravens fans on a well-earned victory. I wish the third team hadn't been on the field but I can't complain because for every call they gave you, they gave us an equally bad call. This is what I saw:
The Patriots Offense stepped up it up. Against a very talented Ravens D, Brady more than made up for his average AFC Championship performance. Although he couldn't find Gronkowski or Hernandez, he connected with our new star Lloyd and Welker. The lack of a running game was one of the main issues for us. We couldn't keep the Ravens D honest in the final minutes because everyone in the world watching knew the Patriots were going to pass no matter how many times Brady adjusted the play call or tried to show a "run". We had so many good drives against a tough Ravens D that I can't find a major fault with them. If anything, I disliked the 4th and 2 FG call when we were up six. I think given the way the D was playing, we should have gone for the TD.
The Patriots D played very poorly. We got some penetration but not enough to really fluster Flacco unfortunately. Although I noted quite a few holds, I'm not going to complain about that given the other calls that happened. We had two or three big interception opportunities which our CBs didn't hold on to. Overall, I think our D looked improved from last year. What do you think?
The Ravens O played lights-out. Boldin showed his veteran savvy. Torrey Smith played a hell of a game. What killed us isn't Flacco and the WRs though. Every play, we were clearly zeroing in on Rice. Even then, we couldn't really contain him. That's what killed us. We tried to make the Ravens one-dimensional but we couldn't. Your O seems incapable of hitting those short passes though. Your outside game though is one of the best in the league. What killed us was that you kept converting those 13 yrd, 20 yrd, type of passes.
The Ravens D frankly looks a lot less intimidating than last year and that is in part due to the fact we have a WR who can beat man coverage. Last year, we didn't have him. Lloyd utterly dominated Cary Williams and in general played lights-out. Brady was a monster, making perfect audibles, calling passes when the Ravens looked to run and in general exploiting every flaw he could find. As I watched the game, I thought: "Brady had exploited this D for a while now and hung 31 points but he can't keep doing this against this D. Sooner or later, they're bound to tighten. Then we'll need our D to step up." Sure enough, the Pats O began to falter. I don't blame them. Props to your D for stepping up after a putrid early performance.
Overall, this came down to a dubious FG. How fitting. You got your revenge and karma was restored. The Texans aren't as good as either of us. Neither are the Steelers, Jets, Bengals, Bills, Chargers, or Broncos. I'm looking forward to a rematch between what has become the AFC's best rivalry - the Ravens vs. the Patriots.
Both sides really want the upper hand, both sides respect each other (Ed Reed/Belichick, Brady/Lewis), and both sides are fighting for supremacy for the last five years.
We'll see you in January.