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Playoff Loss To Ravens Still In Pats’ Heads?
Yes and no.
How can they completely forget the Ravens stunning all of New England in 2009 after a convincing 33-14 wild-card win in 2009?
For wide receiver Matthew Slater, he vividly remembers just how badly his team was beaten.
“You do remember the sting of getting embarrassed at home,” Slater told the team’s website this week. “Those guys beat us from the opening snap all the way through, so we’ve got to try to avoid that.”
That year, running back Ray Rice delivered an opening punch to the gut with an 83-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage.
That play is something New England refuses to erase from its memory, which is why Tedy Bruschi explained that his former team will repeatedly play it when the team puts together their “cut-ups” for players to watch.
“All of the past plays from meetings with the Ravens will be part of cut-ups,” Bruschi told a fan who inquired how the Pats will remember that game. “Watching Ray Rice going 80-plus yards over and over this week could turn into motivation for these Patriots players.”
So the memories of that game are still there, but at the same time, they insist the 2011 squad, which has several new players, is more focused on the present than the past.
The knock on the Patriots all season has been their defense, which finished the season as the second-worst unit in the league.
Pundits have said all season that if New England gets knocked out of the playoffs, it would be because of the defense.
But that sentiment seems to be slowly changing after watching New England’s security squad suffocated Tim Tebow and the Broncos last week in the divisional round.
“This defense can be dominant,” said Bruschi. “These are players who have taken their knocks for the past two years, hearing about how they can’t win in the playoffs. These guys have paid their dues.
“It’s now their time. Their time to break out. Their time to be talked about as part of the reason why this team is winning. This team deserves to be in the AFC Championship Game in part because of this defense. This game is another chance to claim their own identity.”
Flacco Guesses On Ray’s Retirement; Talks Contract and Fu Manchu Cut
With Ray Lewis confusing everybody by “reversing course” on his retirement plans, Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer decided to go to a source within the Ravens locker room to get another opinion.
What say you, Mr. Joe Flacco?
“I don’t want to speak for him, but I would guess he does [retire if he wins another championship],” Flacco said.
“But I have no idea. I think he said the other day that he is having way too much fun.”
Speaking of the Super Bowl, Flacco knows that advancing to the final game of the postseason will greatly affect two things: his contract and … his Fu Manchu.
Asked if he thinks about getting a contract if he continues down this playoff route, Flacco admitted that sometimes the thought does creep into his mind.
“In the back of your mind, when you go home and your brothers are messing with you about it, yeah, you definitely think about it or have thought about it,” said Flacco. “But right now, we know and I know that as long as we win the next two games, everything else will fall into place.”
In addition to the contract implications, Flacco said his ever-popular Fu Manchu will be gone as soon as his season ends.
“After we win the Super Bowl, I’m going to have my razor packed in the bag and when I get in the locker room before I come out and get on the plane or whatever we do, it will be gone,” he said. “I’m chopping it man. This is not a permanent look for me.”
Less Pressure On Yates Was Designed; That Will Change vs. Brady
There is some concern that the Ravens didn’t get enough pressure on rookie quarterback T.J. Yates Sunday.
That’s because the assumption is that the Ravens simply couldn’t get to him, which would be a bad sign heading into a matchup against one of the best quarterbacks of all time in Tom Brady.
Turns out, applying less pressure on Yates may have been intentional.
“The Ravens did not put a whole lot of pressure on rookie T.J.Yates,” Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun told the NFL Network. “Some of that was by design because they were concerned with Andre Johnson and Arian Foster.”
The Ravens know that the Patriots live and die by their quarterback play. That wasn’t the case against Houston, who primarily relied on a heavy run game and getting the ball to their top, physical receiver.
That strategy will change Sunday.
“You have to pressure Brady,” said linebacker Jarret Johnson. “If you let him stand there, he is going to kill you.”
The Ravens had success getting to Brady in 2009, sacking him three times and forcing him to turn the ball over four times.
“That is what they’re going to have to do again on Sunday if they want to have the chance to advance to the Super Bowl,” said Zrebiec. “I think they feel like they have the advantage there and they’ll be able to get to Tom Brady. I’m sure they’ll be coming after him.
“Chuck Pagano is an aggressive defensive coordinator and I’m sure he’s going to have some things dialed up, run some blitzes, because they know it has to happen. If they just let Tom Brady sit back there, they’re going to be in for a long day.”
Suggs And Brady Being Cordial … So Far
ESPN’s Jamison Hensley points out that Terrell Suggs and Brady are being cordial toward one another … so far.
After the Ravens’ divisional-round win over the Texans, Suggs said that once Brady retires, only Peyton Manning and Johnny Unitas will be talked about on his same level.
Yesterday, Brady said the Ravens will be the best team he’s faced all year because they have some of the best players in NFL history, including Suggs.
But it’s still eaaaarly in the week, and Skip Bayless plans on trying to bait Suggs into talking trash today.
“[Tuesday]: I take on Terrell Suggs again,” tweeted Bayless. “Will he again rip Brady? Say Flacco is better? Guarantee win? Explain why HE disappeared vs. Hou?”
A day later, Harbaugh still says Ed Reed’s ankle is alright. He also reported that linebackers Jameel McClain (MCL sprain) and Brendon Ayanbadejo (quad), who were both questionable heading into Sunday’s game, came out OK. [MASN]
Wrote John Eisenberg: “Kudos to Ed Reed for his generosity after the game, noting that the Texans almost won without their No. 1 quarterback, Matt Schaub, and best defensive player, Mario Williams. ‘If those guys are here it’s a different game,’ Reed said.”
When Visa created this commercial, perhaps it didn’t think the Ravens and Patriots would be meeting in the AFC championship to decide who will punch a ticket to the Super Bowl. Or did they? In this commercial, a Patriots’ fan agrees to wear a Ravens helmet so that he can get tickets to watch live the biggest game on earth. Would any self-respecting Ravens fan do the same if the roles were reversed?