First it was Luck. Then Peyton and now Brady –the last two on the road. This Ravens team is beyond resilient. No matter the insurmountable odds i.e. not one but two weeks as nine point underdogs, according to Vegas, they somehow find a way to win on the road. When the Ravens went up by 15, the game was very close to getting out of hand at that juncture.
Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. The Ravens running game- individually they didn’t have eye-popping days, but the cumulative was just enough: 28 for 100 with a score. And added another 30 on four receptions with a huge screen for a first down by Rice. And the running game was effective just enough to keep the Patriots honest on D.
Torrey Smith. No home runs, but he moved the chains more than once. Sometimes singles and doubles win you the game.
Dennis Pitta. Just when it is bleakest, he comes up with a huge catch.
Anquan Boldin. When he turns it on, WOW. Notice that he was not going to drop or have ripped out any of his catches; especially those at the end of the field.
The O-Line. Not as dominating as last week, just enough to give the offense a better than even chance to succeed. In other words, they did what was asked of them and they did their job.
Joe Flacco. Pay the Man. He has out-dueled Brady, Luck, Peyton and Brady again, mostly on the road, in the playoffs when it counts the most. Yeah he is that good. Started a little squirrelly, and that may have been due to the Patriots doing their darndest to stop him. But then he brought it all together. That first touchdown pass to Boldin, that is about as pretty of a TD hookup as you will ever see. Boldin was basically double covered, yet Flacco let ‘er rip. He said, "I’m rifling it in there, ‘cause Boldin is going catch it, and there is nothing you can do about it. Oh, I’m worth about $110 for six years right about now…"
Ray Lewis. Yet again, led the team in tackles and assists.
Art Jones. Not a lot in the stat sheet for him. Except for one little tick mark in the Fumble Recovery column. And what a recovery. You know 3 or 4 Patriots were doing everything possible to try to prevent him from keeping the football. Things that would have made harden criminals blush.
Haloti Ngata. Yeah, he is not 100%, but when he makes a play, he just blows up the opposition. If he wasn’t stuffing rushers, he was pressuring Brady. It is a shame he has been plagued by injuries for two seasons now.
Bernard Pollard. He is a Patriots killer. It is beyond weird that I mean that figuratively and literally. He just crushes guys wearing red and blue –I don’t think I have seen anything like it.
Cary Williams. Yup- someone else is going to give him a big payday. He seals the deal with a game ending Brady interception.
Dannell Ellerbe. We have got to keep this guy. If Pitta is American Express, then Ellerbe is Visa as he is everywhere you want to be.
Terrell Suggs. Just getting a little better with each game. He could be peaking at just the right time.
Pernell McPhee. Two or three tip passes including the biggest one of his career that resulted in Ellerbe’s interception.
The Ravens Defense. To hold Brady to 13 in his own house? Are you kidding me? This defense has given up two touchdowns in seven and a half quarters. This defense is playing as well as any Ravens defense in the past few years.
The second half. Let’s face it- the Ravens hung a bagel on the Patriots in Foxboro in the second half, and outscored them 21 to nil. This can be directly attributed to the second half and in-game adjustments by Pees and Caldwell.
Personal Fouls. Frickin’ ridiculous.
Head scratching play calling for one series late in the game. For a moment I thought that the firing of Cam was only a dream. Eight minutes left in the game, up by 15. All you got to do is run the ball three times, punt if necessary, and Brady, at best, gets the ball back around 6:00 and needs to score two touchdowns. In other words, the game is over at that point. Not sure what Caldwell was thinking by calling three pass plays in a row at that point…
Ugly takes a holiday
It is on to the Har-Bowl! I think this is the match-up we all wanted –how cool is this? I get to witness the second Super Bowl that I can remember in my lifetime by my hometown team –again, how cool is this?!?!?
Ray Lewis is on a mission. He has this team in such a zone right now- cherish it because it is rare in sports when you see a team with such a singular focus. As injury-riddled as this defense has been, and yet they are firing on all cylinders when it counts the most.
San Francisco is not going to easy; not by a long shot. In fact, it appears San Fran is an opening four point favorite on neutral ground. That is okay- underdogs all the way. This will be the most difficult game for the Ravens this season. The 49ers have one of the best defenses in all of football and they have many diverse weapons on offense. The Ravens will have to bring their A+ game.
This Super Bowl is setting up to be one for the ages- two very tough teams who are going to be knocking the snot out of each other from the coin flip onward. There are going to be so many angles to this –even beyond the "brother vs. brother" –I can’t wait-!