Sunday, December 22, 2013

NFL: New England 41 Baltimore 7

Tom Brady (#12) tosses a 4-yard TD pass to Shane Vereen in 1st quarter

Revenge is a dish best served cold, but the New England Patriots picked a record warm day in Baltimore to exact theirs. It reached 71° today in Charm City, but it was the Ravens who came out cold (and finished that way.) New England crushed the Ravens 41-7, ending Baltimore's four-game winning streak, and putting a serious dent in the defending Super Bowl champions' post-season chances.

The Patriots (11-4) raced out to 20-0 lead, before Joe Flacco scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak to cut New England's lead to 13 with 9:21 remaining in the game. LeGarrette Blount scored his second rushing TD of the game just before the two-minute warning, to make it 27-7... followed by two defensive touchdowns, including a 74-yard pick-six by safety Tavon Wilson in the final minute of play. The Ravens fell to 8-7 overall (6-2 at home) and were officially eliminated from the AFC North division title. Baltimore still needs help (possibly a lot) to secure a wild card spot.

Bernard Pierce (#30) rushed for 31 yards on 10 carries

Flacco had a day to forget, throwing two interceptions with zero touchdowns, in addition to being sacked four times. He averaged just 6.8 yards per completion, and compiled a 56.9 passer rating. Not exactly what the Ravens had in mind when they signed Flacco to a six-year contract extension worth $120.6 million in the off-season.

His counterpart, Tom Brady didn't exactly set the world on fire (14-26, 172 yards, 1 TD) but the two-time NFL MVP took care of the ball (New England had no turnovers: Baltimore had four) and converted all three of his red-zone opportunities.

'Tis the Season to be jolly

Once again, the Ravens failed to get anything going in the ground game: Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce combined for just 71 yards on 21 carries. Backup QB Tyrod Taylor had the game's longest run (25 yards) finishing with 39 yards on three carries. Needless to say, Ozzie Newsome has some work to do on the offensive line (adios Michael Oher.)

The Ravens travel to Cincinnati next Sunday, in need of a win and some help. Currently, they're tied with both Miami and San Diego; but oddly enough, can still make the playoffs even if they lose to the Bengals. Crazy, isn't it? That said, thanks for six home wins this year, and a Super Bowl trophy last season. I still wouldn't trade teams with anyone else in the league.

Click here for today's box score.