Hold your horses, broncos and colts. The resilient Baltimore Ravens will be joining the postseason drama watch party.
The Patriots are driving home not thinking about what might have been, maybe, had they snapped the ball before Baltimore Head Coach John Harbaugh made the clutch decision to toss the red challenge flag on Danny Amendola’s diving catch. (Harbaugh was one for eight on contested calls this season; victory was long overdue.) Or maybe, who knows, cornerback Darrelle Revis could have kept his hands to himself when Flacco went deep to Steve Smith Sr. before the end of the first half.
Amendola's completion was overturned, a call impactful enough to change the tides and propel the Ravens to cap off a 79-yard touchdown drive. Revis, after getting his socks rocked off by Smith Sr., was called for a defensive pass interference in the waning seconds of the first half, and the DPI left the Patriots in another well to climb out of after Owen Daniels scored on an 11-yard strike from No. 5.
The Patriots offense was spotty at times, finding the majority of their groove when relying on tight end Rob Gronkowski to invigorate their passing game. In the end, the Ravens defense could not hold down the fort, ultimately the reason why the Patriots could bend without break.
Brady engineered a perfect 67-yard scoring drive and with 3:47 left in the second tied quarterback Brett Favre for 2nd-all time with his 44th passing touchdown in the postseason (to Julian Edelman).
After Baltimore forced a New England three-and-out, maestro Flacco led the offense to yet another score, a drive that showcased more of Harbaugh's clutch decision-making. Harbaugh opted to go for it on fourth-and-six, and the result of the playcall was extraordinary. Flacco aired out a deep ball to Torrey Smith, facing a one-on-one matchup against Brandon Browner, and the 35-yard pass was complete. The DPI call was declined, however Smith's taunting penalty was enforced at the one-yard line. Flacco connected with Justin Forsett on a swing pass out of the backfield for a 16-yard catch-and-run on the next play to take a commanding lead.
The Patriots raged back and overcame their second 14-point deficit of the game, scoring in consecutive drives, using razzle dazzle to tie the game up at 28 with 4:28 in the third quarter. Brady passed the ball backwards to Julian Edelman, a converted quarterback out of Kent State, who connected with Danny Amendola for 51 yards.
After Devin McCourty intercepted Flacco, Baltimore's defense stood their ground against the Patriots' resurgence and forced a three-and-out . Hearts stopped in the Ravens ensuing drive again, this time as Flacco's fumble was recovered at the four by Jamie Collins. A holding penalty was called on Revis, and Baltimore reverted to their ways by sticking to their ground attack.
After Justin Tucker's 25-yard field goal split the uprights, Brady masterfully drove up the field and responded with a touchdown pass to Brandon Lafell (passing Joe Montana's All-Time record of 45), which also gave New England their first lead of the game.
The Ravens had control of their fate with 5:08 left and despite converting a crucial fourth-and-three for a gain of 17 to Daniels, Flacco couldn't help himself but to take a shot deep down the field to Smith on second-and-short. Second-year pro safety Duron Harmon intercepted the pass in the endzone to what would eventually be the game-saving play.
The New England Patriots will play the winner of the Colts-Broncos next weekend in the AFC Conference Championship.