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BST&N’s Top 5 Patriots Moments of 2013 (VIDEO)

Okay, let’s face it. 2013 was not a kind year for the Patriots at all. It started with them getting knocked around in the AFC Championship game at home to the hated Baltimore Ravens, there was a star Tight End arrested for murder, and every time Gronkowski touched the ball in 2013, he got hurt. Here are the top 5 Patriots moments from 2013:

Tom Brady Brocos

5.) Patriots Defeat the Texans in the Playoffs, January 13, 2013.

The Houston Texans were a different team after losing big time to the Patriots on a Monday night in the regular season. Houston knew it was a huge game, and even wore their letterman jackets to Foxboro. That game morally destroyed that team, and when they returned to Foxboro for the divisional playoff game, their tails were still between their legs. The Patriots destroyed the Texans 41-28 to advance to play the Ravens in the AFC Championship for the 2nd year in a row.

4.) Patriots Complete Miracle Comeback Against Browns, December 8, 2013.

Things were not looking good for the Patriots against the lowly Cleveland Browns. They were down by 12 points with just over a minute to play in the 4th quarter. With 1:01 left, Tom Brady threw a 2 yard Touchdown to Julian Edelman to make the game a 1 possession game, but the team still needed to recover an onside kick, which almost never works. Stephen Gostokowski laid down a beautiful onside kick which the Patriots recovered at the Cleveland 40 yard line. After a 1 yard pass by Brady, he tried going deep in the end zone to Josh Boyce, but on the play pass interference was called and the Patriots got the ball at the 1 yard line. They punched the ball in to take a 1 point lead. The Browns still had enough time to drive the ball, and kicker Billy Cundiff missed a field goal as time expired to give the Patriots the win, and keep them in contention for a first round bye.

3.)  Patriots get Payback against the Ravens, December 15, 2013.

Whenever the Patriots and Ravens play each other, the games seem to be close. The Patriots went into Baltimore with the Ravens still playing to get a playoff spot with 2 weeks remaining. The Patriots took an early 17-0 lead, but the Ravens kept it close. It was just a 2 possession game in the 4th quarter, but then the Ravens puked all over themselves, and the Patriots defense took over to give the Patriots a 41-7 win. All the “experts” from ESPN picked the Ravens to win the game. That loss eventually kept the Ravens who defeated the Patriots twice last season, out of the playoffs.

2.) Unicorns, Show Ponies, Where’s the Beef?!?! October 13, 2013.

 

Every football fan has heard Scott Zolak’s call of the Tom Brady’s winning TD pass with 5 seconds left in the game. As amazing as the TD was, it was a miracle the Patriots were even in the position. Trailing by 1 the Patriots failed to convert a 4th down conversion inside their own 30 yard line, and the Saints were only able to come up with a field goal to make it a 4 point game. On the next play, Tom Brady threw an interception, and that surely looked the end for the Patriots. Luckily for New England, the Saints didn’t weren’t able to eat the clock up. The Patriots got the ball back with 1:13 to play and no timeouts. Tom Brady was Tom Brady and kept his cool and drove the offense down field, and eventually it Kembrell Thompkins for a 17 yard TD with 5 seconds left to win the game 30-27.

 

1.)Brady V. Manning, 24 point comeback, November 23, 2013

It was Wes Welkers return to Gillette Stadium, and of course all the hype of a normal game against Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. On the coldest night in November, the Patriots couldn’t hold onto the ball, as they lost fumble after fumble to the Broncos, and they looked like a team lost on the football field trailing 24-0 at halftime. It was so bad fans at Gillette were booing the hometown team as they went to the locker room. They came out of the locker room a new team. Brady found Edelman in the end zone early in the 3rd quarter to make it 24-7, and the Patriots kept bringing the heat and scored 31 un-answered points to make it a 31-24 game. But Peyton answered and tied the game with 3:06 to play. With the wind playing a major factor, Bill Belichick decided to defer the ball to start overtime after winning the coin toss. It paid off as the Broncos were unable to score. But then the Patriots couldn’t score, and the teams kept punting the ball to each other. With 3 minutes left and the Patriots punting, old friend Wes Welker didn’t call off his teammates in time and a Bronco made contact and the Patriots got possession of the ball in the Broncos 20. That led to the Game winning kick by Gostkowski, and proved to the football world, the Patriots were a legit contender.

Now with the playoffs and 2014 starting let’s see what this Patriots team can do. They hope to go to New York for the Super Bowl in February.

Patriots Embarrass Ravens In Baltimore

Last year, the Patriots lost to the Ravens twice. Once on a Monday night in Baltimore, and again in the AFC Championship game at Gillette that ended the Patriots season. Every time the Patriots play the Ravens they seem to struggle. Not on Sunday. For the first time all season, the Patriots played good football for a full 60 minutes, and blew out Baltimore 41-7.

LeGarrette Blount



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Before the game started the Patriots clinched the AFC East title for the fifth straight year when the Miami Dolphins lost to the Buffalo Bills, and they put themselves in position for a first-round bye with the win over the Ravens. All the Patriots need to do is win next week in order to get the first round bye.

After going 3 and out on the first drive of the game, the Patriots forced the Ravens to punt, and on the next drive, the Patriots scored a touchdown on a 1 yard run by LaGarrette Blount, that was set up by a Pass Interference call on the Baltimore defense when Tom Brady tried to go deep down the field to Julian Edelman in the end zone.

Ravens Quarterback Joe Flacco threw a pass intercepted by rookie, Logan Ryan on the next drive, and six plays later, Brady found Shane Vereen for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 14-0. That would be all the scoring the Patriots would need to defeat the Ravens, thanks to the great defense that stepped up for the Patriots.

Down 17-0 early in the 3rd quarter, the Ravens attempted a 4th conversion on 4th and 3 from the Patriots 39, but the Patriots Defense denied the Flacco, and on the next Ravens drive, Logan Ryan again came up with another interception to keep the Ravens off the scoreboard. After another Patriots field goal, the Ravens went for another 4th down conversion and again failed to convert.

On 4th down at the Patriots 19 yard line in the 4th quarter, the Ravens finally decided to try to get on the board with a field goal, but Kicker Justin Tucker, who broke the longest field goal record last week, missed an easy field goal, and the Patriots again got the ball back without the Ravens scoring.

Despite the dominance from the Patriots defense, the team still let the Ravens hang around as it was still just a 3 possession game, and after the Patriots were forced to punt, Flacco rushed for a touchdown after a questionable pass interference penalty was called on the Patriots. That made the game just a 13 point game with still over 9 minutes to play.

The Ravens forced the Patriots 3 and out, but the Ravens couldn’t score on the next drive again failing to convert on 4th down. From there the Patriots finally got into the end zone for the first time since the 1st quarter when Blount rushed for a 7 yard touchdown making the score 27-7 with just 2:05 to play.

On the ensuing kickoff, Jacoby Jones ran the ball out of the end zone and was stopped at the 3. However Baltimore challenged that Jones’ foot was out of bounds when he caught the kickoff, and they won the challenge to get the ball at the 20 yard line. With the Ravens wasting everybody’s time by challenging in a game that was already over, karma came and bit them hard.

On the 1st play, the backup Quarterback Tyrod Taylor fumbled the ball and Chandler Jones fell on the ball in the end zone for another Patriots TD. With the Ravens still throwing the ball on the next drive, Tavon Wilson picked off Taylor and returned it to the end zone to make it 41-7.

It was a sweet tasting victory for the Patriots since they always seem to struggle against the Ravens. The blowout was the biggest Ravens loss at home in franchise history, and put the Ravens playoff chances in jeopardy.

Next week the Patriots need to win to guarantee a first round bye. If they don’t win, and Cincinnati defeats the Ravens, the Patriots will have to play in the wild card game the following week.

NFL Week 16 Preview : Patriots @ Ravens

Playoff implications are on the line in Week 16 in Baltimore. Who will come to play?

After a 4-6 start, the Baltimore Ravens have won their last four – making a strong late season push to return to the playoffs for the sixth straight campaign. The rematch of last year’s AFC Championship was originally scheduled for Sunday Night Football, but got flexed to 4:25 in favor of the Bears vs. Eagles. Including the playoffs, the Ravens are 3-3 against the Patriots over the past six years. This non-division rivalry reached new heights when Baltimore denied New England a chance to play in the Super Bowl last year, embarrassing the Patriots in Gillette Stadium 28-13 and then hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

Sitting a game behind the 9-5 Bengals, the Ravens have clawed their way back to wildcard legitimacy despite their worst rushing production in recent years of 82.9 YPG. Ray Rice is averaging a subpar (to say the least) 3.1 YPC, but has always found success against the Patriots. New England is coming off the wrong end of their fifth straight game decided by one score or less with a 24-20 last second loss in Miami. This is easily the most adversity a Patriots team has faced in the Belichick era, off-season departures and season-ending injuries are truly beginning to dictate just how much gas is left in the tank as we approach January football.

Brady couldn’t be more accurate with his statement after the Dolphins game, “There is a small margin of error”. The team is young and with inexperience comes mistakes. Without the security blanket of Gronk in the lineup, Tom has relied on Julian “Minitron” Edelman as his go-to. Jules has 89 receptions for 914 yards and 6 TD but the efficiency lost in the Red Zone seems irreplaceable. Outside of that consistent production, no one player has been a staple every given sunday. For the second straight week, the Pats have an opportunity to lock up their fifth straight AFC East title. Because the Steelers beat the Bengals last week, the Patriots are still in line to receive the 2 seed if they win out. What will give tomorrow afternoon? Can New England take the next step in restoring the faith or does Baltimore stay hot and give the Pats a reality check? Weather is calling for a 60 degree day with thunderstorm possibilities, here’s to hoping we don’t see a repeat of the brutal Cincinnati conditions. Check out these three keys to victory for an important late-season matchup for Belichick and company:

1) Contain Torrey Smith: Despite a modest total of 59 receptions and 4 TD, the UMaryland burner has 1,032 yards on the season. Smith has recorded a grab of 40+ yards in 8 games this year with a long of 74. Week after week, the Patriots have been burned over the top from the likes of Mike Wallace, Josh Gordon, Andre Johnson and more. These impact plays occur far too often, illustrating a glaring weakness aside from the depleted defensive line.

New England is allowing 132.5 rushing YPG, putting them at the bottom of the pack at 31st in the NFL. Assuming Ray Rice returns to normality with the porous front seven, limiting the Flacco to Torrey connection is imperative. Furthermore, TE Dennis Pitta made his 2013 debut two weeks ago – filling the void that the Boldin departure created. Flacco has 18 TD and 17 INT on the season. He is on pace to record the largest amount of passing attempts and turnovers in his career. If Chandler and Nink are able to win their respective matchups, it will be a long day for the Ravens offense. McCourty and Gregory also need to have solid performances over the top at safety if New England wants any chance to escape with a victory.

2) Special Teams: For as clutch and consistent as Gostkowski has been this year, he killed the Patriots last week with his third missed field goal of the season and an untimely kickoff out-of-bounds. This ultimately allowed Miami to score that go-ahead touchdown and forced New England to score a TD in the last seconds compared to a manageable chip shot. On the other side of the ball, the Ravens have one of the most dangerous returners in Jacoby Jones. He has one touchdown on the season but is always a threat to take it all the way. Baltimore placekicker Justin Tucker had a legendary performance last week with six field goals and a game winning 61 yarder. The third phase of the game will be an important factor in the outcome of tomorrow’s contest. Execution is key.

3) Linebacker Play: Dont’a Hightower and Dane Fletcher have been the recipients of additional playing time after Mayo’s season-ending pectoral injury. While Fletcher made some game-changing plays against Denver, Hightower struggled brutally in coverage against Miami last week. Yancy Thigpen caught a 14 yard TD pass with 1:15 left in which had Dont’a turned around and played the ball, he would have easily intercepted Tannehill’s game-winning pass. Hightower is solid in the run but has not been able to make enough plays when they matter. The Rice/Pierce backfield is an above average tandem and this game will be physical. The Ravens have weapons all over the field and the Patriots will need to cause a turnover if they want to get this done on the road.

These teams don’t like each other and playoff implications are on the line. What more could you ask for? I believe the Patriots can get it done with some timely luck that seems to alternate week in and week out. 21-18 New England.

Ravens Shock Patriots, Return To Super Bowl

Tom Brady sits on the ground following the interception that sealed the game for the Ravens.

Tom Brady sits on the ground following the interception that sealed the AFC Championship game win for the Ravens.

Remember when Tom Brady in the postseason was as sure as death or taxes? His 9-0 start to his postseason career had people all over New England thinking that this late-round diamond in the rough could never do any wrong. Three championships in his first four seasons.

None in his last eight.

Maybe it was payback. Maybe it was destiny. Whatever it was, Joe Flacco outplayed Brady, the Ravens defense outplayed that of the Patriots and as banged up as Baltimore  had been this year, it was the home team and favorite that felt the blows when it mattered most. Oh, and Ray Lewis, with the help if his good friend, God, has lived to play another day – and for the Super Bowl.

From the moment the coin hit the ground in favor of the Ravens and they deferred to the second half – stealing the Patriots’ bread and butter on their home field – it just seemed like it wasn’t meant to be. They committed fewer penalties, made less mistakes and completed a higher percentage of their passes. Most importantly, their zero turnovers, compared to three from the Patriots, were nothing less than huge. They were the team that executed better on Sunday.

Like it did towards the end if the regular season, the Patriots offense struggled to capitalize when their defense set them up with good field position and scored just 13 points – their lowest total of 2012. As the league’s No. 1 offense, the fewest points they had scored this year before yesterday were 18 in the Week 2 loss to the Cardinals.

The windy conditions at Gillette Stadium forced both teams to play conservatively and cost the Pats a couple chances at field goals they would normally attempt.

Their opening drive looked promising, but Wes Welker couldn’t haul in a deep pass from Brady when he had his defender beat by a couple if steps. They then almost caught the Baltimore special teams off guard, however, as Ryan Mallett snuck into the punt formation and forced the Ravens to burn a timeout.

A quick three-and-out by Baltimore gave New England the ball back, but only after a holding penalty called on Aqib Talib backed them up to their own 21. They had to settle for a 31-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski and took a 3-0 lead on their 32nd straight red zone possession that resulted in points.

The next Baltimore drive ended quickly as well, but came at a cost as Talib hurt his thigh while breaking up a pass on third and long. Some production from last week’s star Shane Vereen on the ensuing drive and a 15-yard personal foul penalty called on Lewis were for not as Brandon Lloyd ended up dropping a tough catch on third down.

Flacco then missed an open Dennis Pitta down the field and New England couldn’t convert following a 28-yard punt return from Welker as Paul Kruger influenced the Brady pass. The Pats D allowed just one completion in the first quarter and the Ravens went 0-for-3 on third down. New England led the Ravens 3-0 after one quarter of the AFC Championship game for the second consecutive year.

As the second quarter began, Flacco would lead a 90-yard drive in his first Title Game win to put the Ravens on the board with a two-yard run by Ray Rice. Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower both missed tackles on the back as he then walked into the endzone on second down. Pitta had an 18-yard reception on third and four and Flacco took advantage of Talib’s absence, hitting Torrey Smith on a 25-yard pass to the New England 15.

Brady would answer right away, however, aided by another personal foul penalty, this time on Dannell Ellerbe. A 24-yard pass to Welker set the Pats up in good position and Brady found him again from a yard out to make it 10-7 Patriots with 4:18 left in the opening half.

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2013 AFC Championship Preview: Ravens @ Patriots

Tom Brady is going to cut Ray Lewis' last shot of another ring short on Sunday - 6:30 - CBS

Tom Brady will cut Lewis’ last shot of another ring short on Sunday – 6:30 – CBS

The stage is set for a repeat of last year’s AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium. This is the first time two teams have met in a conference championship game in consecutive seasons since 1994 (DAL & SF). The past three of four games between the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens have been decided on the final play. This tidbit is a testament to how intense the battle will be come Sunday night at 6:30. Add in the fact that this is the “last” chance for Ray Lewis; spectators can count on his aggressive play all game.

After losing their most dominant force on offense last week, Rob Gronkowski, spirits remain high in the Patriots locker room. The team has been here before and knows how to execute without one of if not the best tight end in the NFL. While Danny Woodhead is not Gronk, he too was lost early on against the Texans but it did not matter. Shane Vereen was the standout player last week, filling in for Woody, totaling three touchdowns and 124 all-purpose yards.

It has become evident year after year that on both sides of the ball, Belichick implements a system that utilizes each cog to the best of their abilities. Bill will not put a player in a position to fail by deciphering the strengths of each individual. Whether it’s putting Hernandez in open space or Welker underneath, Belichick’s 37 years in the NFL has reined superior with the Patriots. After passing Montana for the most postseason victories (17) as a quarterback, Brady is looking to reach his sixth Super Bowl in his thirteen-year career. Let’s take a look at three keys to victory against some feisty road warriors, the Baltimore Ravens.

1)   Disrupt Joe Flacco: Why are the Ravens traveling to Foxboro on Sunday to compete for a Super Bowl birth? Because of the time Flacco had in the pocket and his strong arm. There is no denying that was some of the worst coverage by Denver’s defensive backs in that Hail Mary. Regardless, Flacco was able to stand tall and deliver long balls all day against the Broncos.

In the playoffs, Joe Flacco is 8/12 for 324 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions on throws deeper than 20 yards downfield. During the regular season, Flacco completed 37% of those tosses with 7 TD. Furthermore, he had the most attempts without an interception (81) of any QB. What does this mean for the Patriots? It’s two-fold.

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Beating the Ravens Will Be No Easy Task for the Patriots

For the second consecutive year, the Patriots will host the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship in Foxboro. Last year the Patriots barely got by the Ravens to advance to the Super Bowl, and although the Ravens don’t seem to be as good as they were last year, and the Patriots seem better than they do last year, I think this year’s AFC Championship game will be even tougher than last year’s.

Tom Brady Ray Lewis

Over the past week the term “Team of Destiny” has been used by many analysts and sports talk radio hosts regarding the Baltimore Ravens. The term makes most people feel nauseous, as it should, but if you think about it the Ravens really are playing like they are the team of destiny.

A win in Foxboro on Sunday would avenge the loss of year. Last year was no ordinary loss. The Ravens had a chance to win the game when Joe Flacco threw what would be a touchdown to Wide Receiver Lee Evans. That pass which was in Evans in hands was knocked out by Sterling Moore at the very last second. The Ravens as we all know then tried to tie the game with a 32 yard field goal. The easy field goal was missed by Kicker Billy Cundiff.

To lose a game like that is something teams don’t forget. Sure, this year is a different team for the Ravens, but those players who were on the field last year surely haven’t forgotten about this. Every player has been fighting all year to get back to where they got last year for a chance at redemption.

Along with the storyline for avenging last year’s loss, throw in Ray Lewis, who is playing in his final season. Every player on the field knows how important it is to show up and win for the team leader, to extend his career one more game. Although Ray Lewis is one of the best motivational speakers and teammates, you have to wonder when the “Lets win one for the Gipper” speech gets old and starts to fade for players. They won one for “the Gipper” (In the case Lewis) in the Wild Card round against the Bengals, and then they went out and won ANOTHER one for the Gipper against the Denver Broncos.

On Sunday the Ravens won’t be the only team trying to avenge a loss. The Patriots haven’t forgotten about losing to the Ravens in week 3 on primetime. That game was an even closer game than the AFC Championship game last year with the Ravens defeating the Patriots 31-30 by kicking a game winning field goal as time expired. In that game, the biggest story was the replacement officials.

Here’s a recap of that game: http://boston.sportsthenandnow.com/2012/09/24/patriots-vs-ravens-recap-five-reasons-the-patriots-lost-sunday-night/

Of course there’s a lot to play for in the AFC Championship. Most of the sports media will be hoping for a Ravens win to create better storylines, but the Patriots will try to stop that, and make things harder on the media by making them report on meaningful stories pertaining to football. With everything on the line on Sunday, and with the recent history between these two teams, this game will be no walk in the park for the Patriots.

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