After a two week vacation and over ten days without cable or internet, I am finally back. I could not have chosen a better time to return because the Baltimore Ravens are headed to the Super Bowl! The Ravens traveled to Foxboro, Massachusetts and defeated the New England Patriots 28-13 to win the AFC Championship. The Ravens will be making their second Super Bowl Appearance. In their last trip, the Ravens defeated the New York Giants 34-7 in Super Bowl XXXV. The Ravens will face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII. The 49ers defeated the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 to win the NFC Championship.
The AFC Championship was a tale of two halves. The first half controlled by the Patriots. Trailing 3-0, the Ravens had their one bright moment when they went on a 13 play 90 yard drive capped off by a two yard Ray Rice touchdown run. The Patriots immediately responded with a long drive of their own. A one yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Wes Welker completed an 11 play 79 yard touchdown drive. The Patriots had a chance to strike again before the half, but a rare clock management error by Brady left the Patriots with a field goal instead of two shots at the end zone.
With a 13-7 lead to start the second half, all of the momentum was with the Patriots. Their offense tallied 214 first half yards to go along with three drives of nine plays or longer. Meanwhile, The Patriots defense had held the Ravens offense to just 130 yards with only one drive eclipsing four plays. Add in the fact that Tom Brady was 67-0 at home when leading at halftime and things did not look good for the Ravens. The only silver lining for the Ravens was that they only trailed by six at the break.
The second half proved to be no contest, but it was the Ravens who dominated. The Ravens defense shut the Patriots out. Joe Flacco led the Ravens offense on three consecutive touchdown drives capped by touchdown passes to Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin (two). The Ravens defense came up big in the fourth quarter, forcing three Patriots turnovers. Stevan Ridley fumbled when he was knocked out by Bernard Pollard. Tom Brady threw two interceptions that sealed the deal for good.
I am happy Ray Lewis will have a chance to win his second Super Bowl in his final season in the NFL. He has met so much to the Ravens over the years. He is the heart and soul of this team and it is only fitting that the team has rallied around his impending retirement to make this seemingly unlikely run. I also have to take my hat off to Joe Flacco. He is proving to be a much better quarterback than I ever gave him credit for. Flacco has eight touchdowns to zero interceptions in this year’s playoffs. He is the first quarterback to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons. His six road wins are the most in NFL history.
On a side, I have to give props to CBS analyst Shannon Sharpe. He took Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to task for refusing a post game interview with CBS sideline reporter Steve Tasker. There's something to be said about being gracious in defeat," said Sharpe. "We've seen the New England Patriots five times in the last 12 years be victorious. We've seen the opposing coaches who lost come out and talk to our Steve Tasker. Coach [Bill] Cowher did it when they lost to them, we saw this last week. Bill Belichick makes it real easy for you to root against the Patriots. You can't be a poor sport all the time. You're not going to win all the time, and he does this every time he loses. It's unacceptable." Thanks Shannon for saying what we were all thinking.
Congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens – AFC Champions.