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Darrelle Revis: Steve Smith ‘got erased’ down the stretch

01.10.15 at 10:04 pm ET
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Darrelle Revis and the Patriots are headed for the AFC title game. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Darrelle Revis and the Patriots are headed for the AFC title game. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Following Saturday’s 35-31 win over the Ravens, Darrelle Revis acknowledged the work of Baltimore wide receiver Steve Smith, but added that while Smith got his catches and a touchdown catch in the first half, Smith “got erased” down the stretch.

Smith and Revis hooked up on several occasions throughout the contest, and the veteran pass catcher had three catches for 44 yards and a touchdown. The score came in the first quarter on a 9-yard pass from quarterback Joe Flacco. But Smith was held without a catch in the second half, as the New England defense shut him out in the third and fourth quarter.

“He was very tough. He’s always tough,” Revis said of Smith. “I’m sure he has the will to want to win, but it was great. He caught a touchdown earlier in the game, and after that, he got erased.”

Revis also took issue with a pair of penalties against him. First, there was a defensive pass interference call just before the end of the first half, a penalty that helped pave the way for a late second-quarter touchdown by the Ravens.

“I don’t agree with that call,” he said. “I definitely don’t, because I played the ball right. Refs make the call, and that’s it. But I definitely don’t agree with the call.”

Then, there was a holding penalty in the third quarter that helped the Ravens move the chains and set up a second-half field goal that gave Baltimore a 31-28 lead.

“It’s a tough game. There were a lot of penalties — a lot of scrapping out there,” he said. “Pushing, tugging. Back and forth. Receivers push off and that’s what it is. You push off, I’m going to pull. That’s what it is. He pushed off, I pulled, so they called me. That’s that.”

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Terrell Suggs: ‘We definitely got to [Tom Brady] a little bit more than he would’ve liked’

01.10.15 at 9:35 pm ET
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Terrell Suggs, and the Ravens put a lot of pressure on Tom Brady, but the Patriots quarterback got the last laugh. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Terrell Suggs (55), and the Ravens put a lot of pressure on Tom Brady, but the Patriots quarterback got the last laugh. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Although at times the Ravens made Patriots quarterback Tom Brady uncomfortable — especially in the first half, delivering some big shots — Brady and the Patriots ultimately got the last laugh, coming from 14-0 down to comeback and beat the Ravens 35-31, to now host the AFC championship game next Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Terrell Suggs and Brady have had a history in the past, and although the Ravens’ linebacker still refuses to call Brady by his name, including after Saturday’s game, he did say he’s a “pretty good quarterback.”

“We definitely got to him a little bit more than he would’ve liked,” said Suggs. “He’s a pretty good quarterback. He stood in there and he made the plays he needed them to make. They won the game. You learn more in failing than you do in success, so right now we’re already processing how we can get better. I won’t feel like this next year.”

Baltimore sacked Brady twice, and hit him nine times in the game. Suggs finished with two tackles and half a sack.

With the Patriots trailing 31-28 in the fourth quarter, Brady orchestrated a 10-play, 74-yard drive, finishing with a Brandon LaFell 23-yard touchdown catch, which proved to be the game-winning touchdown. The game was also the biggest postseason comeback win in Patriots franchise history.

“They made one more play than us,” said Suggs. “You have to take your hat off to the New England Patriots. They won a tough game on their home field. We came up here to win the game, there was no hesitation on our part. We came up here to win the game.”

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What we learned: Patriots escape with dramatic win over Ravens, advance to AFC title game

01.10.15 at 8:04 pm ET
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FOXBORO — In a playoff clash befitting two rivals Saturday afternoon, the Patriots edged the Ravens by a 35-31 count in frozen Foxboro to advance to the AFC championship.

In a dramatic contest, the Patriots fell behind big in the early going, but rallied to tie the game with a 14-point third quarter, highlighted by a 51-yard touchdown play from wide receiver Julian Edelman to Danny Amendola to bring a spark to a quiet Gillette Stadium. New England took the lead for good on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Brandon LaFell with 5:13 to go, and held on down the stretch for the win, with Duron Harmon picking off Joe Flacco in the end zone with less than two minutes remaining to ensure the win.

The Patriots will host the AFC title game next week at Gillette against the winner of Sunday’€™s divisional contest between Indy and Denver.

Brady finished 33-for-50 for 367 yards and three touchdowns and one interception, while Rob Gronkowski had seven catches for 108 yards. On the other side of the ball, Flacco was 28-for-45 for 292 yards, with four touchdowns and two picks. and Justin Forsett had 24 carries for 129 yards.

Here’€™s what we learned about the Patriots on Sunday:

The Patriots have a quarterback who can throw deep.

The most notable offensive play of the season took place midway through the third quarter when Brady threw it backwards to Edelman, who was split wide. Then, he found a wide open Danny Amendola down the sidelines for a 51-yard touchdown pass, a lightning bolt of a pass that tied the game at 28 and sent Gillette into a frenzy. While the former college quarterback had been seen throwing passes a few times in training camp, it was the first pass of Edelman’€™s NFL career, catching the Ravens completely unawares.

They don’€™t care much for the Ravens.

There was a lot of talk over the course of the week about the respect level between the two teams, but that all went out the window in the early going. There was plenty of pushing and shoving after the whistle, much of which led to flags. That included a taunting penalty on linebacker Chris White on a punt play, as well as some nastiness after a first-half sack of Brady that caused the quarterback to start raging at the referee.

Teams will continue to pick on their cornerback depth.

As was the case earlier in the year when they faced smart and steady quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, the Ravens were able to find holes in the New England secondary, utilizing a variety of targets early on while steering clear of defensive backs like Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Flacco’€™s first seven completions went to eight different pass catchers, and while the Smith’€™s did the biggest damage in the biggest moments for Baltimore, there were plenty of big completions to secondary targets like Kamar Aiken at the expense of defensive backs like Logan Ryan.

Danny Amendola deserves some credit.

The wide receiver, who has had a forgettable last year-plus in a New England uniform, came up big on Saturday against the Ravens. He had a pair of touchdown catches, including a 15-yarder in the first half where he did an excellent job shaking a tackler and launching himself for the end zone. On the second touchdown, he was able to shake free and haul in the unlikeliest touchdown pass of the season from Edelman. It was a season-high for receiving yards (81) and touchdowns (two) for Amendola, who provided a nice offensive boost for New England.

It’€™s OK for them to use four offensive linemen.

The Patriots went to the admittedly odd setup midway through the third quarter, and it appeared to work, jumpstarting a sluggish offense. New England went for a few plays with the setup on a nine-play, 80-yards sequence, one that ended with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Gronkowski that cut the Ravens lead to 28-21 with 6:48 left in the third. The Ravens appeared to be a little confused by the setup — Baltimore coach John Harbaugh was seen angrily yelling in the direction of the New England sideline during the sequence — and the Patriots took advantage. The biggest beneficiary appeared to be tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, who had two catches for 30 yards on the drive.

Few teams get to Brady as consistently as the Ravens.

Baltimore was one of the best in the league against Brady coming into Saturday’€™s game, and not much changed. The Ravens were able to get to the quarterback consistently and do a really good job rattling him. Regardless of what you think about the level of officiating in the contest, Baltimore knocked Brady around pretty badly throughout the game –€” at one point in the second quarter, it looked like he was sporting a cut over one eye ‘€” and he was clearly frustrated at the outcome. Brady did a nice job bouncing back in the second half, and was 8-for-9 for 71 yards, a first-down rush and a touchdown on the go-ahead drive.

Cut blocking works against the Patriots.

The Ravens were able to generate some consistency on the ground in the early going, thanks in large part to the fact that they were able to submarine New England defensive linemen with some good work cut blocking, a sizable part of the zone-block scheme. Justin Forsett was able to tote the rock 10 times for 78 yards in the first two quarters as the Ravens did well establishing tone ands tempo right out of the gate.

They didn’€™t get out of this one completely healthy.

Center Bryan Stork went down with a knee injury in the first half and did not return. In addition, cornerback Brandon Browner left in the second half with a knee injury.

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots,

Halftime analysis: Ravens 21, Patriots 14

01.10.15 at 6:12 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Two physical quarters are in the books here at Gillette Stadium, and the Ravens hold a 21-14 lead.

Joe Flacco is 17-for-22 for 146 yards, with three touchdowns. Meanwhile, running back Justin Forsett had 10 carries for 78 yards, while Steve Smith Sr. added three catches for 44 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Tom Brady is 15-for-24 for 202 yards, with one touchdown and one interception, and tight end Rob Gronkowski has four catches for 90 yards. Brady was uneven over the course of the first half, but really shot himself in the foot late, as his pick on a ball intended for Gronkowski with just under two minutes left in the second quarter. The Ravens turned that around quickly, as Flacco found tight end Owen Daniels with 10 seconds left on the clock to make it 21-14 just before halftime.

Here are a few quick notes:

— It was a terrific start for the Baltimore offense, with two scoring drives on its first two possessions. Meanwhile, it took the New England offense some time to get started, as the Patriots struggled to get any sort of rhythm. In addition, things were seriously chippy throughout, as there was plenty of pushing and shoving after the whistle. Midway through the second quarter, things got especially nasty when, following a sack of Brady, the quarterback took exception to what happened and started barking at the referee. That was followed up by a taunting call against linebacker Chris White following a New England punt. Both sides weren’€™t shy about delivering an extra shot — and this one figures to get more physical down the stretch.

–€” James Hurst started at left tackle for the Baltimore offense for Eugene Monroe, but it certainly didn’€™t matter, as Baltimore had few issues on its first drive of the game. It was an impressive series for Flacco and the Ravens, who went 71 yards on five plays ‘€” the drive culminated with an 11-yard pass play from Flacco to Kamar Aiken made it 7-0 right out of the gate. They added to that on their second series when Flacco guided them on an 11-play, 79-yard drive that ended with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith Sr. On both series, Flacco did an excellent job testing the depth of the New England secondary — he completed passes to seven different receivers on his first eight throws, and saw instant results.

–€” The best Patriots drive of the first half came at the end of the first quarter. Trailing 14-0, Brady put together a nice eight-play, 78-yard drive sequence, one that was capped by a 4-yard touchdown scamper by the quarterback for a touchdown. The series was punctuated by passes to Gronkowski that went for 46 and 16 yards, and made it 14-7 at the close of the first quarter. New England then tied it up near the end of the second with a gritty sequence where Brady was knocked around constantly ‘€” it looked like he suffered a cut above his eye ‘€” but still managed to find Danny Amendola for a 15-yard pass on a play where the receiver expertly shook off a tackler and dove headfirst into the end zone.

— At various points of the first half, the Ravens were without wide receivers Torrey Smith and Steve Smith, as both appeared shaken up. However, both returned without incident. On the other side of the ball, center Bryan Stork appeared to hurt his leg badly on a second-quarter sequence, and had to be helped to the locker room. He did not return, and the Patriots ended up shifting guard Ryan Wendell to center and putting Josh Kline at Wendell’€™s old spot.

Jonas Gray, Cameron Fleming among Patriots’ inactives vs. Ravens

01.10.15 at 3:10 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The following players are inactive for Saturday’s divisional round playoff game against the Ravens: running backs Jonas Gray and James White, wide receiver Josh Boyce, offensive linemen Jordan Devey and Cameron Fleming, defensive end Zach Moore and tight end Steve Maneri.

Gray is a surprise as the rookie was the leading rusher on the Patriots this season. With him inactive it would seem it will be a big day for running backs Shane Vereen and LeGarrette Blount. Fleming is also inactive, which is a bit of a surprise as it was thought he could serve as an extra blocker to help battle the Ravens’ pass rush.

Both Julian Edelman (concussion) and Dan Connolly (ankle) return after missing the last two games of the regular-season.

Baltimore has no surprises, as offensive tackle Eugene Monroe is active after being listed as questionable

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Tom Brady’s dog is ready for Saturday’s playoff game vs. Ravens

01.10.15 at 1:53 pm ET
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Even Tom Brady‘s dog is pumped for Saturday’s game against the Ravens. Brady’s wife, Gisele Bundchen Instagramed the photo this morning.

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Tom Brady,

John Harbaugh reportedly says ‘Patriots don’t understand what kind of game they’re about to get into’

01.10.15 at 1:39 pm ET
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Bill Belichick and John Harbaugh have met several times in the past. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick and John Harbaugh have met several times in the past. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Ravens coach John Harbaugh may have been tossing roses in the direction of Bill Belichick earlier in the week but on the night before Saturday’s AFC divisional playoff, he reportedly told his team to take the attack to the Patriots.

According to Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Media, Harbaugh said, “the Patriots don’t understand what kind of game they’re about to get into.”

Kinkhabwala tweeted out the message Saturday afternoon, just hours before Harbaugh’s Ravens and Belichick’s Patriots do battle on the ice cold field of Gillette Stadium.

Saturday marks the fourth playoff meeting between Harbaugh and Belichick, with Harbaugh holding a 2-1 advantage. All four meetings have been at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots did manage the upper hand the last time they met overall, a 41-7 Patriots’ thrashing at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore in Week 16 of the 2013 season.

Earlier this week, Harbaugh said that Belichick’s recommendation to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti in 2008 “meant everything” toward his head coaching career beginning in Baltimore.

“As far as probably getting the job, it didn’€™t hurt. You have to ask Steve and [general manager] Ozzie [Newsome] if it made the difference or not. But the fact that he was willing to do that at the time, I was stunned when I heard the story much later.”

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Baltimore Ravens, Bill Belichick, John Harbaugh
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