Pats Advance To AFC Title Game
The New England Patriots started out slow, Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, but roared back to snag a 35-31 win to advance to the AFC title game.The Pats found themselves playing catch up from the get-go as they slipped into a lull to start the contest and fell behind by 14 points. As the defense struggled to hold Baltimore's attacking offense, The New England offense began to click and put up points to match the Ravens' production.
After battling back and tying the game at 14-14, quarterback Tom Brady forced a line drive over the middle that was intended for tight end Rob Gronkowski but instead picked off by linebacker Daryl Smith. Ravens' quarterback Joe Flacco then led his team down the field for another score and a 21-14 halftime lead.
The second half started out rough for the Patriots, as well. After stalling on their first drive, New England gave up another quick score to Flacco and company and once again trailed by 14 points.
From there, the tied turned for New England. After moving strictly to a passing offense, Brady who went 33-50 for 367 yards on the day, flourished and found his key targets multiple times. To cut the deficit in half, Brady found Gronkowski for a short red-zone touchdown, to cap a nine play 80-yard drive.
The theatrics grew from there, as New England employed trickery to knot the score at 28 a piece. With under five minutes remaining in the third quarter, Brady threw a backwards pass to former college quarterback Julian Edelman. With his first career pass attempt Edelman unleashed a strike down the sideline to Danny Amendola who hauled it in a scampered the rest of the way for the 51 yard touchdown.
Late in the fourth Brady led the Patriot offense on its final drive down the field. He connected with Brandon LaFell for the game's winning score on a 23 yard strike.
From there the New England defense halted the Ravens attack and safety Duron Harmon helped seal the historic come-from-behind win with a late interception of Flacco.
The Pats will now host the Indianapolis Colts next week for a chance to go to the Superbowl. The week ahead will give New England time to work out some defensive issues and figure out a solution for their rushing game, as is was largely nonexistent against Baltimore. Both of those areas must be better against the Colts if the team wants to be in Arizona three weeks from now.