Brady Gets Gronked, Flacco Gets Flak

Posted: January 21, 2012 by Kodi in NFL

New England Patriots Welcome the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship game!

Which team will be the AFC’s representative at SB XLVI?

When it comes to Brady/Flacco there’s really no debate

But can the Ravens defense put this team on their backs?

It is not too surprising that the number 1 seed New England Patriots would face off against the number 2 seed Baltimore Ravens for a chance to play in Super Bowl XLVI. The two teams have made the playoffs in five of the past six seasons, something only the Indianapolis Colts can brag about. The Ravens are in the Championship game for the 3rd time in franchise history and the 2nd time in the past 4 seasons. They haven’t won the AFC Championship game since they won Super Bowl XXXV. The Patriots are hoping they could reach the Super Bowl for the 7th time and they are 3-0 when the AFC Championship game is played Foxborough. New England is 4-1 at home against the Ravens but that one loss came in a 33-14 drubbing of the Pats at home by Baltimore in the Wild Card round of the 2009 playoffs.

In that game Brady threw for just 154 yards and the Patriots rushed for just 64 yards while they turned the ball over 4 times. Brady was 23-42 with 2 touchdown passes and 3 interceptions but his longest completion was a 24 yard catch by Julian Edelman. Not saying that Joe Flacco was much better he completed just 4 passes but only attempted 10 however 1 of those were picked off. He threw for just 34 passing yards in a playoff victory and people wonder why he doesn’t get any credit? He doesn’t deserve any, it is his defense that wins these types of games and Ray Rice when he decides to show up. Rice killed New England racking up 159 rush yards and 2 touchdowns in that Wild Card victory. That was the beginning of two disappointing playoff losses for the Pats and they took out their frustration on the Broncos last Saturday.

Tom Brady and the Patriots won their first playoff game in over three years and they did it with a bang. Brady was 26-34 completing over 76% of his passes for 363 yards and a tying an NFL playoff record 6 passing touchdowns. Brady did throw an interception but still finished the game with a 137.6 QB rating ranking 16th in postseason history. It seemed like Brady and Belichick were bothered by the media coverage denouncing the Pats and building up the Book of Tebow. They came out of the gate strong and finished with a blowout 45-10 victory. It was the biggest victory in the franchise and the 509 yards of total offense was also a single game postseason record.

Deion Branch had a game long 61 yard reception for a TD and Welker was able to pull in one of his own. TE Rob Gronkowski also tied an NFL playoff record pulling in 3 touchdown catches among his 10 receptions for 145 yards. Gronkowski is the 17th player with 3 TD catches in a playoff game but he and former Oakland Raider Dave Casper are the only TE’s on that list. As great as Gronk played you can’t forget Aaron Hernandez who had 4 catches of his own for 55 yards and another TD but he also had 5 rushed for 61 yards including the game high 43 yard rush. The Patriots have had their TE’s combine for at least 100 yards in the last 12 straight games and 16 of their last 18.

Joe Flacco was right about one thing saying last week that “even if we win this game I know you guys [the media] aren’t going to give me any credit.” I couldn’t have said it better myself, although he became the only player in NFL history to not only start at least one playoff game in each of his four seasons but also winning at least one game. Flacco didn’t impress me against the Texans and future Hall of Fame Safety Ed Reed, a Ravens teammate, said that the QB “looked lost” and questioned his play. Reed later backpedaled in statements the following day saying he was just “trying to motivate” Flacco not shoot him down.

Joe didn’t have a terrible game completing 14 of his 27 passes for 176 yards and 2 touchdowns but what is really important is that he didn’t turn the ball over. When the Ravens won the Super Bowl they did it with Trent Dilfer under Center and he was 35-63 for 590 yards 3 touchdowns and just 1 interception. He didn’t win games with flashy numbers but he managed the game and held onto the ball. Flacco seems to be following his footsteps but in the QB era the NFL is in now it’s understandable for Reed to be worried.

If I were Reed I would get on Ray Rice’s ass too who had just 80 total yards in the game against the Texans and has been known to not show up in playoff games. The Patriots rush defense is middle of the road and the Ravens could expose them if they are able to keep the running game incorporated into their offense, something that would be extremely difficult if they are trailing Brady and the Pats early. Rice is coming off of a great season where he found the end-zone 15 times, whereas he had scored just 14 times in his first 3 seasons. Rice needs to be a factor for the Ravens to have a chance but that will depend on Tom Brady and a stout Ravens D.

Baltimore forced Texans rookie QB T.J. Yates to throw 3 interceptions and it was the turnover battle that allowed the Ravens to win that game. The Ravens have the 4th ranked pass defense and they are going to be tested by Brady but if they can get a push up the middle from LB’s Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs behind NT Haloti Ngata and fluster the golden boy they could control this game. Brady seemed to have never been touched in the Broncos game and if you want Tom to make mistakes you need to force him to get rid of it before he wants to.

Baltimore clearly has the players in place to give the Patriots a tough time, even their record breaking TE combo. The Ravens haven’t allowed the opposing TE’s to gain more than 100 yards in 69 games! In the last 144 games the Ravens have given up more than 100 on just 2 occassions, once against Kellen Winslow(92)/Steve Heiden (18) in 2006 and again in 2007 when they allowed Antonio Gates to go for 105. On top of that it has been 76 games since the Ravens have allowed a pass play for more than 40 yards and we know the capabilities of the Patriots big play offense.

I thought that the Ravens were susceptible last week against the Texans and they were but their defense gave their offense great field position and eventually led them to victory. I am nothing but respectful to the Ravens D because they deserve all the respect in the world but I am taking Tom Brady over Joe Flacco every day of the week. The Ravens may use this as motivation but I don’t think that they are capable of ensuring a Baltimore victory. Eventually Tom Brady will get his and Joe Flacco will be left on the sideline with his ridiculous moustache, I  am going Patriots 24 Ravens 20.

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