Ravens reverse heartbreak against Patriots
Joe Flacco outdueled Tom Brady in an emotional shootout as the Baltimore Ravens exacted sweet revenge against the New England Patriots with a 31-30 home victory on Sunday.
The Ravens suffered heartbreak to the Patriots in last season's AFC championship game when a missed field goal attempt doomed their chances, but this time Baltimore converted the knockout blow on a 27-yard field goal by Justin Tucker as time expired.
"We just didn't want to replay last year," Ravens Ray Rice told reporters after rushing for 101 yards and a TD.
"If you go back to the playoff game this game was almost identical. This time we got the win."
Flacco threw for 382 yards and three scores, rallying the Ravens (2-1) from a 30-21 deficit in the fourth quarter, including a 70-yard drive in the final two minutes that set up the game-winner.
Boosting Baltimore's offense was receiver Torrey Smith, who played despite mourning the death of his younger brother in a motorcycle accident less than 24 hours earlier and managed to catch six passes for 127 yards and two scores.
"This means a lot, not just for us but for my family as well," Smith said. "We're just thankful for the support from everyone around the league."
Brady finished with 335 yards and one passing score, but could not prevent the Patriots (1-2) from losing their second straight game.
In a wild contest that featured a few controversial calls, Tucker's final kick just barely cleared the top of the right upright, causing the Patriots to protest and coach Bill Belichick to run on the field and grab the arm of an official at the game's conclusion.
There were 24 total penalties on the night ranging from clear cut calls to head-scratchers.
"I don't have any control over that, I just try to do my job," Brady said. "We just don't play well when we need to. We have to start winning close games."
Utilizing a no-huddle offense, the Patriots went on the attack early and built a 13-0 edge in the first quarter.
Baltimore responded with 14 unanswered points and it was a back and forth battle from there.
Flacco capped a 92-yard drive with a five-yard TD pass to Smith to pull the home side within two points in the last four minutes.
The winning drive was aided by a 27-yard pass interference call on New England that gave Baltimore the ball on the Patriots' seven-yard line.
New England receiver Wes Welker, who led the NFL in receptions last year, had been missing from much of the Patriots' offense but he bounced back with eight catches and 142 yards. (Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)