Sunday, March 9, 2014
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin (81) makes an 11-yard touchdown reception against Patriots free safety Devin McCourty in the second half of their AFC Championship game Sunday.
The Associated Press
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Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco celebrates after his third touchdown pass of the game – an 11-yarder to Anquan Boldin that clinched Baltimore’s 28-13 win Sunday over the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game.
Photos by The Associated Press
Tom Brady and the Patriots couldn’t produce any points in the second half Sunday, and as a result, they won’t be making a return trip to the Super Bowl.
The Ravens gained just 130 yards in the first half.
Brady guided a 13-play drive to Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead. Neither defense yielded a big play, and punters Zoltan Mesko and Sam Koch were the busiest guys on the field.
That changed when the teams switched sides for the second quarter. Baltimore again was pinned deep, at its 10, but Flacco led a 13-play drive that was capped by Ray Rice's 2-yard TD run.
Awakened by Baltimore's march, the Patriots staged a long one of their own, going 79 yards with the help of a personal foul by Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. Wes Welker picked up 24 yards on a short pass, then got free in the right corner of the end zone after a mix-up in the Ravens' secondary as the Patriots regained the lead, 10-7.
It was 13-7 by halftime as Gostkowski connected from 25 yards. But Brady made a mental error, not calling timeout quickly enough after a short scramble. That cost the Patriots a shot at the end zone, and they settled for Gostkowski's kick.
Shockingly for an offense that scored 557 points this season, that was it for New England.
Flacco led Baltimore on a 10-play, 87-yard drive in the third quarter to take the lead. He then added a pair of touchdown passes to Dennis Pitta on back-to-back possessions to start the fourth.
Brady led New England down the field before three straight incompletions turned the ball over on downs. After the Patriots forced a three-and-out, Brady connected with Wes Welker for a 36-yard catch-and-run, but his next pass was tipped into the air by lineman Pernell McGee. Ellerbe waited for it to come down and then cradled it in his arms as he went to the turf, surrounded by a pair of celebrating teammates.
Brady completed 29 of 54 passes for 320 yards and a touchdown, and Welker had eight catches for 117 yards. Ridley ran for 70 yards on 18 carries before leaving the game following a fourth-quarter carry in which Pollard hit him in the head so hard that he fumbled away the ball.
"That was the turning point of the football game there on the 40-yard line," Ravens Coach John Harbaugh said. "It was a tremendous hit. It was football at its finest. It was Bernard Pollard making a great physical tackle, just as good a tackle as you're ever going to see in football right there. That probably turned the game around right there."
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Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo delivers a big hit after a catch by Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta in the third quarter. Pitta recovered quickly and caught the go-ahead touchdown pass on the next play.
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Joe Flacco helped make sure that linebacker Ray Lewis will play one more game before his retirement, directing the Ravens to their first AFC title since the 2000 season.