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Snap Judgments: Patriots thumped by Ravens in AFC title game

FOXBORO — The Patriots season came to a close Sunday night at Gillette Stadium [1], as New England suffered a 28-13 defeat to the Ravens in the AFC title game. New England took a 13-7 lead into the half, but a dominant second half by the Ravens on both sides of the ball sealed the Patriots’ fate, as New England turned the ball over twice in the second half (once on a Stevan Ridley fumble and another on a Tom Brady [2] interception) and failed to score in the second half.

Brady finished 29-for-54 for 320 yards, with one touchdown and two picks. Ridley had 18 carries for 70 yards, while Wes Welker [3] — who had a big second-half drop — ended up with eight catches for 117 yards and a touchdown. Baltimore was led by Joe Flacco [4], who was 21-for-36 for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Bernard Pierce had nine carries for 52 yards, while Torrey Smith [5] had four catches for 69 yards. Anquan Boldin [6] had 60 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

Baltimore will advance to the Super Bowl [7] for the first time since the end of the 2000 season, when the Ravens beat the Giants [8].

The Patriots were unable to finish off drives — the New England offense was in the red zone four times on the night, and only came away with one touchdown. And after Aqib Talib [9] went down in the first half, the Patriots were unable to do much to slow down the Baltimore passing game, as the Ravens had scoring drives of 90, 87, 63 and 47 yards. Baltimore made four trips to the red zone, and finished off all four trips with touchdowns.

Here are a few quick notes:


‘€¢The Patriots’ offense [10] left a bunch of plays on the field in the first half, and thanks to some clock mismanagement at the end of the second quarter, was forced to settle for a field goal instead of taking a shot at the end zone. New England held a 13-7 lead at the end of the second quarter, but it could have been much more. Much of that is the fault of the quarterback, who had another bad game against the Ravens, a team he has struggled with over the course of his career.

‘€¢The Patriots were hit hard by injuries, as cornerback Talib went down in the first half and didn’t return. defensive lineman Kyle Love suffered a knee injury, and safety Patrick Chung [11] was also dinged up in the first half. The loss of Talib was big, as the Patriots pass defense seemed to slip back into the old familiar form it showed pre-Talib — both Kyle Arrington [12] and Alfonzo Dennard had their issues in coverage the rest of the evening. And running back Ridley took a shot to the head from safety Bernard Pollard [13] in the fourth quarter that led to a loss of both consciousness and the ball while knocking him out of the game.

‘€¢The Patriots struggled mightily in the third quarter, and truthfully, they were lucky to only give up a touchdown. A poorly timed Welker drop opened the door for a sustained Baltimore drive in the third. Ultimately, New England ended up running only nine plays in the quarter as it yielded the lead.


‘€¢The Patriots got an excellent performance out of their special teamers — the first five drives from the Ravens started inside their own 15-yard line, thanks in large part to kicker Stephen Gostkowski [14] and punter Zoltan Mesko, who were able to consistently pin Baltimore in its own end. The Patriots also got good work from return men Welker and Devin McCourty [15], as well as their return units.