FOXBORO — Bill Belichick  likes to use the expression “the hay is in the barn” before a big game.
He expressed that confidence on Friday in his final meeting with reporters before Sunday’s AFC championship with the Ravens at Gillette Stadium .
“I think the players have done a good job this week, they’ve worked hard to get the scouting report, and new information on the Ravens, practiced well, good energy, I think the team is excited to play,” Belichick said. “If you can’t get excited for the AFC Championship game, I don’t know what you can get excited for.
“This is what we’ve worked all year for, this opportunity, and I know that everybody wants to make the most of it. The attitude is good, we’re looking forward to playing a great football team, going out there and knowing we need to play our best to beat them. But that’s the way it should be.”
This is the third time in four years the Ravens and Patriots have met in the playoffs, with the Ravens prevailing in 2010 while the Patriots won the AFC championship last January. Three of the previous five meetings overall have come down the final seconds, including on Sept. 23 when the Ravens won, 31-30, on a controversial Justin Tucker field goal as time expired.
“As I said at the beginning of the week, we have a lot of respect for that organization,” Belichick said. “They win a lot of games, they’re in the playoffs, they win playoff games. We’ve had some great battles with them; we’ve won some, they’ve won some, most of them have come right down to the wire, very competitive, they’re a tough, hard-nosed football team that’s hard to beat, and we respect that challenge.
“We know that’s what will be out there on Sunday: We’ll get their best, they’ll get ours, both teams have had a lot of success, both teams have a lot of confidence. It’s a great matchup.”