Setting the scene: Patriots-Ravens
|09.23.12 at 12:40 pm ET|
BALTIMORE — Emotions will be running very high on a number of different levels when the Patriots and Ravens kick off their AFC Championship rematch at M & T Bank Stadium as New England looks to avoid its first losing record since starting 2003 with an 0-1 record.
It will be a crisp night, as the forecast calls for clear skies and a temperature of 67 degrees for the 8:20 p.m. start (WHDH-TV). Wind should not be a factor as a light breeze out of the northwest at 6 MPH is expected.
As for the emotions, Ravens second-year receiver Torrey Smith lost his 19-year-old brother Tevin early Sunday morning. Tevin Smith was killed in a motorcycle accident when he struck a utility pole in Westmoreland County, Virginia.
Smith confirmed the tragic news this morning on his Twitter page and moments later tweeted a picture of himself with his younger brother.
“I can’t believe my little brother is gone…be thankful for your loved ones and tell them you love them…this is the hardest thing ever.”
Smith was excused from the team to be with his family in Virginia. It was immediately unclear whether he would return in time for the game.
The Baltimore Sun reported just before 4 p.m. ET that Smith had rejoined the Ravens after spending part of his day with his family in Virginia and is likely to play.
“This is devastatingly sad, sad news,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Torrey and his family are a close, special family, and our hearts and thoughts reach out to all of them. Our hearts ache today. We pray for Tevin, his mother, Torrey and the rest of the family. God bless Tevin.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Torrey Smith after the passing of his brother, Tevin,” the team said in another statement.
Several Ravens, including LaQuan Williams, Tandon Doss, Bryan Hall and Vonta Leach, have also expressed their condolences to their teammate and his family on Twitter.
“My prayers and condolences go out @TorreySmithWR and his family through their trying times,” Williams tweeted.
The game was already expected to be played at very high level with the emotional Ray Lewis leading the Ravens in the “Purple Palace”, one of the loudest home field advantages in the NFL.
Two weeks ago, the Ravens – in their opener on Monday night – blew out Cincinnati, 44-13, scoring 27 unanswered points in the second half to put the game away.
The Ravens then felt they were cheated out of a win against the Eagles last weekend in Philadelphia. They led 23-17 late when Michael Vick fumbled and the Ravens recovered. Replay overruled the call and Vick scored the game-winning TD on the next play.
The Patriots ruled out Aaron Hernandez (ankle), Justin Francis (ankle), Brandon Deaderick (ankle) and rookie defensive back Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring) as part of their early inactive list on Friday and Saturday.
As mentioned above, the Patriots haven’t been under .500 since losing the 2003 season opener, 31-0. The Ravens haven’t been under .500 since starting 2008 with a 2-3 mark. The Ravens have won 11 straight at home and 19 of their last 20. The Ravens are 28-5 at home since 2008 under John Harbaugh, matching the Patriots for best home mark over that period.