Patriots' powerful offense, Ravens' stingy defense meet in AFC title game

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady and the New England Patriots made it to the AFC Championship game with a high-powered offense that piled up points and yards.

New England quarterback Tom Brady picked apart the Denver defense in the divisional round. He won't likely have as easy of a time when he faces Baltimore today.  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
New England quarterback Tom Brady picked apart the Denver defense in the divisional round. He won't likely have as easy of a time when he faces Baltimore today.

Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens got there with a hard-hitting defense that made it a major challenge for opponents to move the ball.

Today, one of those teams will advance to the Super Bowl because, most likely, of what they do best.

“We’ve got our hands full this week,” Lewis said. “You watched what they did last week against Denver, just the way they came out and ran their offense, how efficient (Brady) was, how many different receivers he hit with the ball. I think their offense, period, is playing at a very high level.”

From start to finish, Brady picked apart the Denver defense in a 45-10 divisional playoff win.

The Patriots (14-3) needed five plays to score on their first series on Brady’s 7-yard pass to Wes Welker. It took them seven plays to reach the end zone on their second series on Brady’s 10-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski. By halftime, Brady had thrown five of his six touchdown passes.

He had plenty of time to survey the field as the Broncos put little pressure on him. The Ravens don’t plan to let that happen.

“You don’t want him back there just like, ‘Oh, we’re just going to play catch today,’ ” Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “You don’t want him to zone in, get in his zone, so to say. So I think pressure is going to be crucial, but it’s always crucial. But, particularly when you are playing these type of quarterbacks, it’s pivotal.”

Baltimore (13-4) allowed the third-fewest average yards, 288.9, and points, 16.6, this season. It had four takeaways in last Sunday’s 20-13 divisional playoff win over the Houston Texans, the last by Ed Reed with 1:51 left. Lewis had a team-high seven tackles.

“They’re great players. I’ve played against both those guys quite a few times,” Brady said. “You always enjoy going up against the best because you can really measure where you’re at. You can’t take plays off against those guys.”

RAVENS AT PATRIOTS

3 p.m. l CBS-Ch. 12

RECORDS: Baltimore 13-4, New England 14-3

SERIES RECORD: Patriots lead 6-1

LAST MEETING: Patriots beat Ravens 23-20 OT, Oct. 17, 2010

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES: In only previous playoff game between teams, Ravens won 33-14 Jan. 10, 2010 after building 24-0 first-quarter lead. ... Joe Flacco threw 10 passes in that game and Tom Brady had three first-quarter turnovers. ... Flacco only quarterback since 1970 NFL-AFL merger to reach playoffs in each of first four seasons. Brady made it in two of first four. .... RB Ray Rice led NFL with 129.3 total yards from scrimmage per game. ... Wes Welker has 40 catches in five playoff games.

– Associated Press


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