After the sting from the disappointing end to the New England Patriots’ season has subsided, it’s time to take an objective look at the game for some Positives and Negatives.
- The run-stopping defense looked excellent in the first half, as they managed to contain the two-headed rushing attack of Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce to 100 yards on the game.
- Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez had a big day yardage wise, accounting for 200 yards of offense between the two of them.
- Zoltan Mesko was brilliant in the first half, pinning the Ravens behind their own twenty on numerous occasions, causing their offense to sputter.
- The Special Teams unit did not play nearly as poorly as they had versus Houston, giving up only thirty total kick return yards to Jacoby Jones, a formidable return man.
- Rob Ninkovich logged two sacks on the day.
- I can’t remember the last time Tom Brady had a two good playoff games in a row or a good game against the Ravens. More interceptions than touchdown passes is not the way to win a football game. He just looked bewildered in the second half, and will have a long offseason to dwell on that performance. Count on Brady to circle the regular season matchup against the Ravens next year on his calendar.
- I’ve said it after almost every game, and this one is no exception: Wes Welker dropped another, absolutely HUGE, third down reception. With ten minutes left in the third quarter and the Patriots leading 13-7, Welker ran a curl route on the left side of the field and was wide open for the conversion at the Ravens’ 25-yard line with room to run, and he got caught looking for the tackler before he secured the ball. The Patriots were forced to punt, and Baltimore took that possession all the way down field for the score that put them ahead for good. New England didn’t score another point for the rest of the game.
- The curse of Bernard Pollard in big Pats games strikes again, as he absolutely walloped Stevan Ridley and forced a fumble at the start of the fourth quarter. That was a must have scoring drive for the Patriots, and Ridley got himself hurt. He’ll think twice before leading with his helmet again. (If you watch the replay, Ridley ducks his head into Pollard’s helmet)
- The defensive secondary had no answer for Anquan Boldin after Aqib Talib went down. They need another good corner back badly.
The Patriots will have a long offseason to think about that game, and I’m sure Brady and company will be plenty bitter about it. They got handily defeated and have to watch the Superbowl from the couch. On to the Harbaugh Bowl.
Stats courtesy of NFL.com
Tags: AFC Championship, Baltimore Ravens, Bernard Pollard, Negatives, New England Patriots, Positives, Tom Brady, Wes Welker