Wide Left: Rematch
Tom Brady didn't perform at his peak level, throwing two picks and zero touchdowns, there were two special teams fumbles, yet, the Patriots were able to hold off the Ravens 23-20. Yes, they did need Baltimore to shank a chip-shot field goal in the final minute to secure the victory, but a win is a win is a win.
Defense would tell the true tale of the game, as both sides gave their respective offenses little to work with. Baltimore, an historic defense with pro-bowlers at every line, were able to provide tight coverage, especially in the middle of the field, which kept Brady frustrated. He had ample time in the pocket, as the Offensive Line was able to contain Ngata an Suggs all day, but with no open receivers, Brady had to force a lot of his throws. The Ravens' secondary was on top of their game, racking up 2 picks (4, but a penalties overturned 2), including this spectacular pick:
The Patriots Defense was the true hero of this game. The coverage was tight, but most importantly, they got after Joe Flacco, racking up 3 sacks and 7 QB hits. Both edge rushers were able to shrink the pocket, and Vince Wilfork seemed to get through the middle untouched on most plays. They were able to neutralize Ray Rice, and despite a few missed tackles, were making strong and heads-up pursuits on the ball.
Now the Pats will face off against the red-hot NY Giants in a rematch of Super Bowl XLII, famously known for "The Catch" (or "That Motherf#&%ing Catch" depending on whether you are in New Yor or new England). The story line hasn't changed much.... The Patriots aren't undefeated this time, but still have a "score-at-will" Offense, and great veteran leadership. The Giants, much like 2007, looked mediocre for most of the regular season, but became hot and healthy as the playoffs neared.
Side question: In the next two weeks, what is the Over/Under on how many times this play will be shown in the National sports media? Lets set the line at 150:
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