Good evening, Patriots fans! Hope most of you have enjoyed the warm weather! Wow, today has been a pretty good day for us. Yes, it was a bummer that earlier in the day, Peyton Manning broke Tom Brady’s TD pass record and the Bengals won. BUT, there was more good than bad today. The Dolphins lost, the Seahawks lost, the Chiefs lost, and our New England Patriots clinched the AFC East AGAIN with an old fashioned ass-kicking of the Baltimore Ravens in their own stadium.
The Pats started out the ball with a 3 and out. They were very interested in carrying out a run-orientated offense. A pass interference call which Julian Edelman drew gave the Patriots field position at the Ravens’ 1 yard line, and LeGarrette Blount rushed in for a touchdown. Joe Flacco, who was playing with a sprained MCL, threw a pass intended for Jacoby Jones, but was tipped by Dont’a Hightower and caught by Logan Ryan (YEAH RUTGERS!). This lead to New England driving down deep in Baltimore’s redzone and Brady threw a neat pass to Shane Vereen, who trotted into the endzone. The Pats followed up with a 45 field goal from Stephen Gostkowski. I was impressed by the way our defense was playing, it was unbelievable. The final Pats drive seemed promising but could not get anything going. One very recurring problem was the over-flagging. That ref was throwing way too many flags in the first half and you could barely hear what he was saying because his mic was acting up. Nonetheless, I was satisfied with the 17-0 halftime lead. Baltimore never got in our territory the entire first half!
That didn’t last though, they started the second half with the ball and got into Pats territory. But the New England defense forced Baltimore to turn it over on downs. Later, Flacco’s pass to Dennis Pitta went off Pitta’s hands and was caught by a diving Logan Ryan, who had his second pick of the day. The Patriots gave Gostkowski the opportunity to add to the lead with a 42 yard field goal. The Ravens then got great field position and drove down the field. 4th and 1 at the Pats’ 5, Flacco handed it off to Ray Rice (one of my heroes because of Rutgers), who was stopped just a few inches shy of the first down. Thought they would go for it on 4th down again in a later drive but no, they got on Justin Tucker to try a 37 yard field goal. Easy for him right (because he hit that 61 yarder last Monday)? NOPE, just wide left! The shutout was still on. But New England did not take advantage, yet they did pin Baltimore on the ensuing punt at the 10 yard line. But the Ravens got out, drove down the field with great plays, and Flacco finished with a sneak into the endzone, thus ending the shutout bid. New England went 3 and out and the ensuing 4th down conversion for the Ravens once again failed.
Then Stevan Ridley decided to prove himself worthy of a roster spot. He made some big plays that killed a lot of clock in the 4th quarter. So much clock was used up from his runs, that around the 2 minute warning, Blount powered his way to the endzone for another Patriots touchdown. He celebrated with Ray Lewis’ dance and I found that absolutely hilarious! Baltimore took Flacco out and put in Tyrod Taylor. In the ensuing Ravens possession, the snap was not handled well by Taylor and the ball went behind him near the goal line. With a little help from Rob Ninkovich’s foot (which helped move the ball into the endzone), Chandler Jones picked up the loose ball for another New England touchdown. But wait, there’s more! After Taylor drove the Ravens down into New England territory (which I couldn’t see on CBS because they decided to switch to PIT/GB – I had to see it on NFLRZ), he threw a pick to Tavon Wilson, who ran it back all the way 74 yards for the final Patriots touchdown! Wow unbelievable, 3 touchdowns in that less time? That would be all, your final score: New England 41 Baltimore 7!
With that win (and the Dolphins loss earlier), our New England Patriots are AFC East champions once again! Now the focus is on that 2nd seed which we can clinch with a win against Buffalo at home in the regular season finale. We will probably not see Devin McCourty play as he suffered an injury (a concussion I believe). If Denver loses to Oakland next week and New England wins, the Pats will get the 1st seed and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Tons of cool scenarios. This game had me tense for a while, but it’s over and it ended up being a blowout. Enjoy the night and Happy Holidays! Let’s go Patriots!