|Boomer Esiason on D&C: Ravens are ‘team of destiny,’ but 49ers have better players||02.01.13 at 9:26 am ET|
Boomer Esiason called in from New Orleans to talk with Dennis & Callahan about the state of the 49ers and Ravens as they head into the Super Bowl, and whether the Ravens’ intangibles or the 49ers’ talent will prevail.
In a week filled with off-field news items about Ravens and 49ers players, Esiason said he doubts the accusations of PED use will slow down Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, but that 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver seems shaken up by the media attention he’s gained this week for an anti-gay remark.
“Given all that Ray Lewis has been through, from the double murder back in 2000 to all of his gyrations during games and all of the publicity that’s he’s gotten, that’s the last thing that they worry about,” Esiason said.
“Now, on the other side, Culliver, who made the anti-gay statement, he was really uncomfortable and really felt badly about what he said. I don’t necessarily know that he understood the enormity of what he said. His situation’s a little bit different, and he’s probably going to carry that a little into the game, because I really felt that he he looked very very embarrassed and overwhelmed by the whole dust-up that his comments created.”
Asked about Ravens safety Ed Reed, whom Bill Belichick admires, Esiason said he could see Reed aiming to play with a quarterback like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning assuming he leaves the Ravens as a free agent this offseason.
“I’m sure that Ed Reed probably loves this experience that he’s having with the Baltimore Ravens right now,” Esiason said. “I would think he’d be willing to take a little less money — I imagine, I don’t want to put words in his mouth — to play for one of those franchises for a chance at a Super Bowl ring.”
Esiason’s Super Bowl prediction was a tight, defense-dominated battle: “This game should be a fourth-quarter game. It should be a relatively tight game. It should stay in the 20s. I’d be really shocked if somebody scores 30 points in this game, unless there’s some breakdown on special teams, which I really don’t expect.”
|Terrell Suggs: ‘Ever since Spygate, [Patriots] haven’t been able to win’||01.21.13 at 1:00 am ET|
FOXBORO — The first thing Terrell Suggs did after leaving the Gillette Stadium field and entering the hallways after the Ravens’ 28-13 beating of the Patriots was shout, all the way to the locker room, “Tell them to have fun in the Pro Bowl! Arrogant f***ers.”
Suggs was overheard taking verbal shots at the Patriots, and was captured by Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel on his Twitter feed, calling them “the most arrogant pricks in the world, starting with [Bill] Belichick on down.”
Wetzel also tweeted that Suggs said, “That’s funny, ever since Spygate they haven’t been able to win.”
Suggs and the Ravens avenged a playoff loss in Foxboro last year with a convincing 28-13 win on Sunday night that included a second-half shutout of the league’s top-ranked offense in points per game. Afterwards, Suggs spoke several times with reporters, and eventually toned down his distaste for New England by paying tribute to the former AFC champs.
“That’s a hell of a team out there. That’s a hell of a ballclub,” Suggs said. “But not to take anything away from the men in this locker room. We went out there and we played a game, and both sides — offense and defense, and special teams — played damn near flawless, and that’s what you have to do to come here and beat a giant. All praise be to God.”
When asked if he was surprised at all by the win over the Patriots, Suggs answered with an emphatic, “Nope.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Snap Judgments: Patriots thumped by Ravens in AFC title game||01.20.13 at 9:48 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots season came to a close Sunday night at Gillette Stadium, 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 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 — who had a big second-half drop — ended up with eight catches for 117 yards and a touchdown. Baltimore was led by Joe Flacco, who was 21-for-36 for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Bernard Pierce had nine carries for 52 yards, while Torrey Smith had four catches for 69 yards. Anquan Boldin had 60 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
Baltimore will advance to the Super Bowl for the first time since the end of the 2000 season, when the Ravens beat the Giants.
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 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:
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE PATRIOTS Read the rest of this entry »
The Ravens scored 21 straight points in the second half and the Patriots offense could not overcome several costly mistakes on offense as Baltimore beat the Patriots, 28-13, Sunday at Gillette Stadium in the AFC championship. Anquan Boldin, who predicted a Ravens win earlier in the week, caught a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes from Joe Flacco as the Ravens earn revenge for last year’s loss in the AFC title game at Gillette. The win sets up a matchup of the Harbaugh brothers in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans as John Harbaugh leads his Ravens against Jim Harbaugh‘s 49ers on Feb. 3.
Tom Brady lost a game at home for the first time when leading at the half. He had been 67-0 before losing Sunday. The Patriots also lost an AFC championship game at home for the first time in five tries and for just the second time in their history.
Wes Welker dropped a key third-down pass on a third-quarter drive deep in Baltimore territory, Brady mismanaged the clock at the end of the first half and Nate Solder had a holding penalty that wiped a first down in the third quarter. But the biggest play of the game came when Patriots nemesis Bernard Pollard knocked out Stevan Ridley with nine minutes left in the fourth, causing a fumble that resulted in Boldin’s second TD catch of the fourth quarter and a 28-13 lead. Ridley left with head injury and did not return.
Early on, the Patriots won the field position battle, as all five Baltimore first-half drives started inside their 15.
The Patriots took an early lead when Stephen Gostkowski hit a 31-yard field goal on their second possession of the first quarter. The Patriots then got some bad news when starting right cornerback Aqib Talib injured his right thigh on a pass breakup of a pass intended for Boldin.
He came off the field and was replaced by Kyle Arrington for the rest of the game.
On the Ravens’ fourth possession, they started at their 10 and drove 90 yards to take their only lead of the first half. Going no huddle for most of the drive, Flacco completed a pass to Torrey Smith to the Patriots’ 15. Ray Rice capped it off with a two-yard run around the left end to put Baltimore up, 7-3, with 9:33 left in the second quarter.
Brady came back immediately to engineer a 79-yard drive in 11 plays, capped by a one-yard TD strike to Wes Welker on third-and-goal that put the Patriots up, 10-7. The Patriots appeared ready to go in for another touchdown moments before halftime. After a short punt, the Patriots got the ball at the Baltimore 43 with 2:32 left in the half. A Brady 17-yard pass to Aaron Hernandez advanced the ball down to the Ravens’ 10 with 26 seconds left in the half.
But on the next play, Brady scrambled on first down to the 7 and was forced to burn his final timeout and the Patriots had to settle for a 25-yard field Gostkowski field goal and only a 13-7 halftime lead.
The Patriots defense held the Ravens on the first drive of the third quarter and appeared to be driving for another score but Welker dropped a third-down pass that would have been a first-down and kept the drive going. The Ravens answered with an 87-yard drive in 10 plays, capped off by Flacco TD pass to Dennis Pitta that gave the Ravens the lead for good.
The Ravens scored twice in the fourth on Flacco TD passes to Boldin to build the lead to 28-13. Brady connected with Welker for 36 yards down to the Baltimore 24. But Brady’s next pass was tipped and intercepted by Dannell Ellerbe at the Baltimore 18 with 6:49 left in the fourth. Cary Williams intercepted Brady in the end zone with 1:06 left to seal the game.
For complete coverage from Chris Price and Mike Petraglia on scene at Gillette, visit the Patriots team page at weei.com/patriots.
|Setting the AFC championship scene: Patriots-Ravens||at 2:01 pm ET|
FOXBORO — High winds and falling temperatures are expected in Foxboro as the Patriots shoot for their sixth AFC championship in the the last 12 seasons under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
Game time temperatures are expected in the mid-30s and are expected to drop into the mid-20s throughout the game but the bigger factor will be winds between 15-20 miles an hour with gusts up to 35 MPH making it feel like 14 degrees in the second half.
The only significant injury for the Patriots is the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski to a broken left arm, suffered last Sunday in the win over the Texans.
Chandler Jones (ankle) and Danny Woodhead (left thumb) should both be available to play and both were listed as probable for the game after fully participating in practice on Friday.
As for the Ravens, the most notable injury could be running back Bernard Pierce (knee). He did not practice on Thursday and was limited on Friday, and was officially listed as questionable on Friday.
This is the fourth rematch in AFC championship history since 1975. The Steelers beat the Raiders in 1974 and 1975 before losing the 1976 game in Oakland as the Raiders finally broke through and won Super Bowl XI. In 1978 and 79, the Steelers hosted the Houston Oilers, and beat them both times on the way to winning Super Bowl XII and Super Bowl XIII.
It happened again in 1986 and ’87. In Jan. 1987, the Broncos beat the Browns on “The Drive” in Cleveland. The next year, Ernest Byner fumbled in the closing seconds and the Broncos held on to beat the Browns at Mile High Stadium.
The Raiders are the only the team to win an AFC championship rematch.
As for the season history, the Patriots will be looking for revenge after losing a 30-21 fourth-quarter lead and falling 31-30 on a controversial Justin Tucker field goal as time expired at M&T Bank Stadium. The field goal appeared to go over the right upright but replacement officials ruled it good.
Ray Rice had 101 yards rushing on just 20 carries in that game while Joe Flacco was 28-of-39 for 382 yards and three touchdowns. Brady, who last week set the all-time NFL playoff record for quarterback wins with 17, was 28-of-41 for 335 yards and a touchdown in the Sept. 23 game in Baltimore. The high winds at Gillette Stadium today figure to drastically impact the deep passing game.
The press box at Gillette Stadium will be a busy place today as over 600 credentials have been issued to local and national media.
Some other nuggets for today:
For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots. WEEI-FM 93.7 will broadcast the AFC Championship game between the Patriots and Ravens at 6:30 p.m.
|Peter King on M&M: Joe Flacco ‘fearless about throwing the ball deep’||01.18.13 at 2:00 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni on Friday morning to preview the NFL’s conference championship weekend.
King, who predicts a 31-26 Patriots victory over the Ravens, is leaving open the possibility of an upset.
“The Patriots have been so good in these championship games, so consistent,” King said. “It’s not going to be their mistake that’s going to beat them, if history is a judge. It’s going to be the Ravens playing well if they win.”
Joe Flacco‘s ability to test the Patriots secondary with the long ball is one of the keys to this game.
“I just think he’s a very good deep-ball thrower,” King said. “Throwing the deep ball twice to Torrey Smith and once to Jacoby Jones six days ago is why the Ravens won that game. If he doesn’t take chances downfield, they’re sitting home right now and it’s New England going to play at Denver on Sunday.
“We talk about players, who’s elite, who’s not elite — I don’t know who’s elite and who isn’t. All I know is that in this game — I don’t think Joe Flacco’s ever going to have the kind of great completion percentage or anything like that that’s going to make him one of the top-rated quarterbacks, but I believe that his team is always going to have a chance for a very simple reason: He’s fearless about throwing the ball deep and he’s the best deep-ball thrower both on percentage and in yardage in the NFL this year.
“I think the Patriots secondary is really going to have a lot to do with whether they move on.”
On the other side of the ball, the aging Baltimore defense will attempt to contain New England’s uptempo offense.
“They better have a lot left in their tank,” King said of the Ravens. “After having a much tougher road in the playoffs, obviously, than New England has had, they better have a pass rush on [Tom] Brady left, particularly when it comes to Paul Kruger. I think he’s the guy that — because right now Terrell Suggs just really isn’t himself, and I don’t know that he is going to be himself in this postseason at all — I think they have to rely on Paul Kruger to get to Tom Brady and do some damage. … In my opinion, that’s going to have a lot to do with who wins and loses this game — how much the Ravens have left in their tank.”
|Heath Evans on M&M: ‘Give Tom Brady one extra opportunity and he’s going to win this game’||at 1:00 pm ET|
NFL Network analyst and former Patriot Heath Evans spoke with Mut & Merloni on Friday about Sunday’s Pats-Ravens matchup.
Evans noted that while Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco clearly is capable of the high caliber of play he showed in the last two weekends, he’s also capable of struggling.
“Look at last week alone,” Evans said. “The guy throws two interceptions, basically, in overtime that were just dropped. If you’re going go talk with Bill [Belichick] in a private room, everyone knows what Joe’s capable of, but we also know what he does every single week. Every single week there’s two or three plays that change the course of the game. Sometimes they’re made, sometimes they’re dropped.
“Last week against Denver, which never should have been in overtime, if you ask me, he throws two easy interceptions that the plays just weren’t made by that Denver defense.”
In light of that, Evans said the Patriots defense can and should pressure Flacco into making a crucial mistake.
“My thought is, give Vince [Wilfork] a shot of adrenaline and tell him to ‘Go win this game all by yourself,’ like he’s done in years past against half the teams they play,” Evans said. “I would just kind of sit back, put the weight of the world on the DBs and say, ‘Between you and Vince, you guys are going to win this game. Flacco’s going to give you guys the opportunity to win the game, and you’ve got to make at least one of them.’ Give Tom Brady one extra opportunity and he’s going to win this game.”
Evans said the Patriots secondary, with a different look than it had when New England lost to the Ravens in the regular season, will be a determining factor in the game.
“That’s what gives me hope that we see them in New Orleans here in two weeks,” Evans said. “You cannot compare the back end, and honestly … I can point out so many areas where [Brandon] Spikes is playing better, [Jerod] Mayo we know, but this defense is not the same defense. Obviously Chandler [Jones], his health is going to be key, kind of like they’re waiting for John Abraham there in Atlanta. But the defense that Joe Flacco was getting ready to play was totally completely different than the Week 3 one that he had some nice success against.”
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