ReFo: Ravens @ Patriots, Divisional Round
The Divisional Round of the playoffs kicked off in exciting fashion with the Ravens heading to New England having won two of the last three playoff matchups between these teams. Despite leading by 14 points in both halves, Baltimore couldn’t put the game away as the Patriots repeatedly answered with touchdowns of their own. After finally holding the Ravens to a field goal early in the fourth, Tom Brady led an efficient go-ahead touchdown drive, ending with a spectacular 23-yard touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell.
With the victory the Patriots head into their fourth-straight AFC Championship game, hosting the winner of Denver-Indianapolis. They should be confident after beating both teams by more than 20 points during the regular season.
Baltimore Ravens – Performances of Note
Joe Flacco, QB: -3.2
Breakdown: Fared well throwing to the middle of the field, but he saw pressure on more than 40% of his drop backs, some of it his doing, and that eventually translated to several big mistakes as he locked in on Torrey Smith. The second interception was particularly baffling coming inside of two minutes on a manageable 2nd-and-5, as Flacco opted to take a deep shot drifting back in the pocket, putting the ball too far inside and was picked again by a safety shaded to Smith’s side of the field.
Signature Play: 2Q, 0:16. It’s hard to place the ball in better position than Flacco did, hitting Owen Daniels in tight coverage on the back shoulder throw.
Matt Elam, S: -3.1
Breakdown: The second-year player didn’t see much action playing just 15 snaps in the slot, but when he did it turned out to be costly. His two missed tackles resulted in a first down and touchdown, continuing a trend from the regular season, while Elam was also out of position on the third throw into his coverage.
Signature Play: 2Q, 3:47. Had a chance to stop Danny Amendola short on an out, but instead his miss allowed the receiver to find the end zone, tying the game and erasing what was once a 14-point deficit for the Patriots.
Marshall Yanda, OL: +3.6
Breakdown: This was Yanda’s third consecutive game at right tackle and like last week he held up extremely well in pass protection allowing neither Chandler Jones nor Rob Ninkovich to get to the quarterback. And outside of a couple of rough plays blocking Vince Wilfork, he played well in the run game, helping the Ravens manage a 4.9 average on the ground.
Signature Play: 3Q, 3:09. Handled the inside rush of Jones, sealing him inside to open a lane for Justin Forsett.
New England Patriots – Performances of Note
Devin McCourty, S: +2.7
Breakdown: McCourty made several big plays in coverage from his deep safety position including two pass breakups, one of which sealed the game on the final play, and a third-quarter pick. Also added an excellent performance on special teams, collecting two tackles in kick coverage.
Signature Play: 3Q, 3:37. Made a great read and break to track the ball intended for Torrey Smith, though an inaccurate throw made it easy for him.
Jamie Collins +0.3
Breakdown: A very active game for Collins, whom the Ravens blocked a bit too easily against the run, with left guard Kelechi Osemele often doing the job at the second level. However, he balanced that with some solid play in coverage, getting his hand on the ball twice (3Q, 11:43 and 4Q, 13:19). As has been the case for much of the season, Collins also fared well rushing the passer, collecting a hit, hurry, and nullified sack-fumble.
Signature Play: 3Q, 1:48. Came in late to take down Flacco, ripping the ball loose in the process and recovering inside Baltimore’s 10, though unfortunately the play was nullified by holding in the secondary.
Tom Brady, QB: -0.4
Breakdown: Connected on several extremely impressive throws, including on the go-ahead touchdown, but mostly took what the Ravens’ defense offered with 28 of his 33 completions coming on passes thrown within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Brady repeatedly picked on corner Rashaan Melvin, taking advantage of soft coverage and sending more than 15 targets into his coverage on the left side of the field.
Signature Play: 4Q, 5:21. Put New England ahead for the first time with a strike to LaFell against tight coverage from Melvin.
PFF Game Ball
Devin McCourty made plays in coverage to slow down the Raven offense, while adding value on special teams with a pair of stops.
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