"He's a great player that has been playing a long time," Ngata said. "We've had a lot of battles, and he's a solid offensive lineman. I've always said he's probably one of the better offensive linemen in the league."

The Ravens' reconfigured offensive line has allowed just two sacks in the first two playoff games.

Since installing Bryant McKinnie as the new left tackle prior to a wild-card playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts, shifting Michael Oher to right tackle and moving rookie Kelechi Osemele inside from right tackle to left guard, the pass-blocking has improved substantially. And the Ravens have rushed for 325 yards and two touchdowns on 71 carries in the postseason.

"From just watching film, they look pretty good," Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes said. "Actually, they definitely demand the physical presence up front. I just think they get off on that front five. If they are firing off the ball and Ray [Rice] is doing what he does, I think we will have a big problem if we don't come out and do our job."

The Ravens offensive line has its work cut out for them. They're bracing for the matchup with Patriots nose guard Vince Wilfork.

Wilfork, who had 59 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles during the regular season, is almost impossible to budge inside, using his stocky build to overwhelm blockers.

"That low center of gravity, Vince is not the tallest of guys," Rice said. "He knows that, but he's a force in the middle. I've always loved battling, going against a guy like that, because he is going to give it everything he has."

A five-time Pro Bowl selection, Wilfork also recovered four fumbles this season.

"Vince is Vince," Yanda said. "He's a great player. He disrupts a lot of offenses. He's a force in there. We will have to have him blocked and get after him and contain him. It starts with him up front for us, creating problems.

"He's a real big guy, but he also has quickness and a lot of power. He's not just a guy that we will be able to cover up. He has a lot of lateral quickness, which makes him good."

Wilfork sounded hazy on the details of how he disrupted the Ravens' offense last season in the AFC title game, when he pushed around veteran center Matt Birk and had six tackles (three solo) and one sack.

"Really not too much, because it won't have anything to do with this time," Wilfork said. "I just remember winning, so hopefully I will have that same feeling."

awilson@baltsun.com

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