For a big chunk of Sunday’s
The Patriots refused to let the Ravens flip field position in the first half and spent much of it entrenched in Ravens territory. But when the Patriots crossed that 20-yard line, the Ravens, as they have done all season, protected the red zone with a barricade of bodies.
The Patriots scored just one touchdown on three red-zone trips in the first half and took a 13-7 lead into halftime. The Ravens, on the other hand, were money inside the red zone, scoring touchdowns in all four of their trips, including three in the second half, to pull away from the Patriots and advance to the
It will be those lost trips deep inside Baltimore territory that
“We talked about scoring in the red area and getting touchdowns,” Patriots wide receiver
The Patriots ranked first in the
On their first red-zone drive, Brady didn’t attempt a pass inside the 20-yard line and the Ravens held the Patriots to a field goal after three running plays, including a stop of
On their second such drive, Brady completed two of three throws inside the red zone for just 2 yards, but one was a touchdown pass to Welker, who got open due to miscommunication in the Ravens secondary.
On their third such drive, Brady couldn’t find an open receiver and fled the pocket, only to slide down -- with one spike rising suspiciously high on safety
In the second half, the Ravens showed the Patriots what a successful red-zone offense looked like. Relying mostly on the passing game, quarterback
Flacco completed seven of his eight pass attempts inside the red zone, including a touchdown drive in the second quarter that was capped off by a 2-yard run by
Brady, meanwhile, was 2-for-6 inside the red zone for 2 yards after he threw three incompletions in the fourth quarter as the Patriots turned the ball over on downs. Later in the quarter, Brady moved the Patriots to the 22-yard line, just outside the red area, but he was picked off in the end zone by cornerback
Sunday's 28-13 victory was the latest and greatest example of the bend-but-don't-break Ravens, who ranked second in the NFL in red-zone defense during the regular season. If they hadn't held firm in the early going, who knows how the game would have turned out? But they frustrated and flustered Brady and the Patriots inside their 20-yard line, and that's one of the major reasons why the Ravens are headed to the Super Bowl.