Second-quarter notes: Patriots 13, Ravens 7
|01.20.13 at 8:04 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The second quarter is done, and the Patriots are up, 13-7. Here are a few quick notes.
‘¢The Patriots special teamers had another really impressive quarter. Between the work of punter Zoltan Mesko, kicker Stephen Gostkowski and the return men and coverage units, New England was solid over the first two quarters when it came to the battle of field position. The first five Ravens’ drives started inside their own 15-yard line.
‘¢The Ravens best offensive series of the night came on their first possession of the second quarter, when they picked up their first third-down conversion of the night, and quickly steered into New England territory for the first time thanks to a nice pass play from Joe Flacco to Dennis Pitta, and multiple connections from Flacco to Baltimore running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. The Ravens’ first big pass play of the night came when Flacco hit on a 25-yard connection to Torrey Smith to get the Ravens down to the New England 15-yard line. Baltimore got into the end zone a few plays later when Rice bounced off a tackle for a two-yard touchdown run to make it 7-3 with 9:28 left in the first half.
‘¢On the ensuing drive, the Patriots were able to consistently grind out some tough yardage on the ground (thanks in large part to Stevan Ridley) and Wes Welker, who got 24 big yards on a wide receiver screen that allowed the Patriots to get deep into Baltimore territory. New England scored its first touchdown of the night a few plays later when Brady hit Welker on a one-yard out route to make it 10-7 with 4:18 left in the quarter. (In the wake of the touchdown, Baltimore defensive backs Chykie Brown and Corey Graham were having a VERY animated discussion as to what happened — looked like there was some breakdown in coverage on the play.)
‘¢Defensively, the big play of the quarter was a Rob Ninkovich sack on third down that forced to Baltimore punt. That set up New England’s last drive of the first half, one that was highlighted by a direct snap to Danny Woodhead on a 4th-and-1 play — the undersized running back gained seven yards to keep the drive alive. Aaron Hernandez picked up 17 yards on another third down. However, the Patriots appeared to have botched things when it came to clock management at the end of the first half, and had to settle for a 25-yard field goal at the buzzer to make it 13-7.
‘¢The Patriots continued to suffer injuries — on Rice’s touchdown run, backup safety Patrick Chung went down with an injury and was being looked at on the bench. There also appeared to be several occasions where the Ravens were targeting Aqib Talib‘s replacement on the outside, Kyle Arrington. Talib returned to the sidelines with just under 10 minutes left in the second quarter, but wasn’t on the field.