Undefeated Ravens Plan to Disrupt Tom Brady, Patriots

Undefeated Ravens Plan to Disrupt Tom Brady, Patriots FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots (2-1, 1-1 AFC East) welcome the Baltimore Ravens (3-0, 1-0 AFC North) to Gillette Stadium this weekend.

The Patriots are 4-0 all-time against the Ravens, and they have won both games in Foxborough, which includes one meeting at Gillette Stadium. The Ravens have never scored a touchdown on the road against the Patriots.

When and Where

Sunday, Oct. 4, 2009, 1 p.m.
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.

Records

Patriots 2-1 (1-1 AFC East)
Ravens 3-0 (1-0 AFC North)

Skinny

Though the Patriots and Ravens have a limited history with one another, their last meeting proved to be one of the best games of the 2007 season. New England rallied from a 24-17 fourth-quarter deficit  in dramatic fashion to grab a 27-24 victory and improve to 12-0 on its way to an undefeated regular season.

“It was a great game,” said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who completed 18-of-38 passes for 257 yards, two touchdowns and one interception that night in Baltimore. “It was kind of a windy, cold, blustery night, and it was tough to throw the ball. We had some plays that we could’ve made early in the game that would have helped us out. But they hung in there and they really played well offensively that night. They kept us off the field quite a bit. They had the timeout that was called on the quarterback sneak, which I still claim that I heard no whistle. And then there was the fourth-down play where I scrambled, and then the one to [Jabar Gaffney] where he caught it. It was awesome. Every time we play them, they’re so good and so talented that it’s always a close game.”

Patriots safety James Sanders intercepted Kyle Boller’s pass at the New England 1-yard line to prevent the Ravens from extending their seven-point, fourth-quarter lead, and it propelled the Patriots’ offense to a 47-yard drive that resulted in a field goal that cut the deficit to 24-20.

Later in the quarter, the Patriots’ last-gasp drive was helped by some Baltimore penalties and an ill-advised timeout from Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan. Finally, Brady hit Gaffney for an eight-yard touchdown with 44 seconds remaining in the game to put the Patriots ahead.

Boller completed a Hail Mary pass to receiver Mark Clayton as time expired, but linebacker Eric Alexander stuffed Clayton at the 3-yard line to preserve the Patriots’ victory.

“I remember us winning a large portion of the game,” Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs told the Baltimore media this week. “I remember being heartbroken. I remember a certain colleague of mine (linebacker Bart Scott) throwing a flag in the stands. I remember a certain colleague going after a referee. It was crazy. You look at it now and you can laugh about it, but at the time we were just like, ‘Wow, we can’t believe all that just happened.’ I just remember all of the disappointment and the heartache.”

Projected Starters

Patriots
Offense
Quarterback: Tom Brady
Wide Receiver: Randy Moss
Wide Receiver: Wes Welker
Wide Receiver: Joey Galloway
Running Back: Fred Taylor
Tight End: Ben Watson
Left Tackle: Matt Light
Left Guard: Logan Mankins
Center: Dan Koppen
Right Guard: Stephen Neal
Right Tackle: Nick Kaczur

Defense
Left Defensive End: Ty Warren
Defensive Tackle: Myron Pryor
Defensive Tackle: Mike Wright
Right Defensive End: Jarvis Green
Left Outside Linebacker: Pierre Woods
Middle Linebacker: Gary Guyton
Right Outside Linebacker: Adalius Thomas
Left Cornerback: Shawn Springs
Right Cornerback: Leigh Bodden
Strong Safety: Brandon Meriweather
Free Safety: James Sanders

Specialists
Kicker: Stephen Gostkowski
Punter: Chris Hanson
Long Snapper: Jake Ingram
Kick Returner: Laurence Maroney
Punt Returner: Wes Welker

Ravens
Offense
Quarterback: Joe Flacco
Wide Receiver: Mark Clayton
Wide Receiver: Derrick Mason
Running Back: Ray Rice
Fullback: Le’Ron McClain
Tight End: Todd Heap
Left Tackle: Jared Gaither
Left Guard: Ben Grubbs
Center: Matt Birk
Right Guard: Chris Chester
Right Tackle: Michael Oher

Defense
Left Defensive End: Trevor Pryce
Defensive Tackle: Kelly Gregg
Right Defensive End: Haloti Ngata
Left Outside Linebacker: Jarret Johnson
Left Inside Linebacker: Ray Lewis
Right Inside Linebacker: Tavares Gooden
Right Outside Linebacker: Terrell Suggs
Left Cornerback: Fabian Washington
Right Cornerback: Domonique Foxworth
Strong Safety: Dawan Landry
Free Safety: Ed Reed

Specialists
Kicker: Steven Hauschka
Punter: Sam Koch
Long Snapper: Matt Katula
Kick Returner: Chris Carr
Punt Returner: Chris Carr

Stat Sheet

Patriots
The Patriots have 400 all-time wins.

The Patriots are averaging 287.0 passing yards per game, which ranks third in the NFL.

Jarvis Green’s only NFL touchdown came in 2004 when he recovered Baltimore quarterback Kyle Boller’s fumble in the end zone.

Laurence Maroney had a career-high 79 receiving yards and a career-long 43-yard touchdown receptions against the Ravens in 2007.

Fred Taylor had a career-high nine receptions when the Jacksonville Jaguars played the Ravens in 1998.

Tom Brady has completed 33-of-68 passes for 429 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in two career games against Baltimore.

Randy Moss has 12 receptions for 132 yards and two touchdowns in three career games against the Ravens.

The Patriots are 22-4 in October since 2003, and they’ve been perfect in October in 2003, 2006 and 2007.

Brady became the 27th player in NFL history to reach 200 career touchdown passes when he hit Chris Baker in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Brady accomplished the feat in 116 games, making him the fourth fastest quarterback to reach the mark.

Brady is 69-3 when leading at halftime and 7201 when leading after three quarters.

Moss has 26 receptions this season, the most he has had through three games in his career.

The Patriots’ offensive line has not allowed a sack in their last 134 pass attempts, which is the longest current streak in the NFL.

Ravens
The Ravens have scored 13 touchdowns, which is eight more than the Patriots.

The Ravens’ defense is allowing 51.0 rushing yards per game, the stingiest mark in the NFL.

The Ravens have intercepted six passes through three games.

The Ravens are attempting to open the season with four consecutive victories for the second time in franchise history (2006).

The Patriots and Carolina Panthers are the only teams the Ravens have never beaten.

Head coach John Harbaugh has led the Ravens to an 8-4 road record, which includes a 2-1 mark in the playoffs. The Ravens have won three consecutive regular-season road games. The Ravens are an NFL-best 6-1 on the road since Week 7 of 2008, and they’re an NFL-best 8-2 on the road, including the playoffs, during that stretch.

Joe Flacco has completed 122-of-188 passes for 1,448 yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions in his last seven regular-season road games.

The Ravens are 18-18 in October since 2000.

Willis McGahee has an NFL-high six touchdowns this season, and he’s scored twice in each game.

Linebacker Terrell Suggs needs to register six sack yards to become the Ravens’ all-time leader in that category. Linebacker Peter Boulware currently holds the record with 428 sack yards.

Wide receiver Derrick Mason has 21 receptions for 260 yards and one touchdown in four career games against the Patriots. Seventeen of those receptions have been good for first downs.

Linebacker Ray Lewis has recorded 39 total tackles (24 solo) in four career games against the Patriots.

Safety Ed Reed has totaled nine tackles (eight solo), three passes defensed and one interception in two career games against the Patriots.

Black and Blue

Patriots
(From Thursday’s practice report)

Linebacker Jerod Mayo did not practice with a right knee injury and is unlikely to play.

Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (left ankle) did not practice.

Right tackle Nick Kaczur (ankle) had limited participation.

Cornerback Darius Butler (thigh) had limited participation.

Wide receiver Randy Moss (back) had limited participation.

Special teamer Matthew Slater (left elbow) had limited participation.

Defensive back Shawn Springs (knee) had limited participation.

Wide receiver Wes Welker (knee) had limited participation.

Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite (groin) had limited participation.

Defensive tackle Mike Wright (right shoulder) had limited participation.

Quarterback Tom Brady (right shoulder) fully participated.

Ravens
(From Thursday’s injury report)

Quarterback Troy Smith (illness) did not participation.

Defensive end Trevor Pryce (illness) had limited participation.

Defensive tackle Justin Bannan (knee) had limited participation.

Linebacker Tavaras Gooden (shoulder/head) had limited participation.

Linebacker Jarrett Johnson (shoulder) had limited participation.

Tight end Todd Heap (back) had full participation.

Linebacker Ray Lewis (head) had full participation.

Wide receiver Kelley Washington (groin) had full participation.

Linebacker Antwan Barnes (shoulder) had full participation.

This Date in Patriots History

In 1998, Adam Vinatieri kicked a 27-yard field goal with three seconds remaining in regulation to give the Patriots a 30-27 victory against the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome. Drew Bledsoe completed 21-of-35 passes for 317 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions, and Robert Edwards rushed 22 times for 97 yards and one touchdown to help the Patriots improve to 3-1.

Overheard

“Obviously, [the Patriots] are amongst the greatest franchises of any sport. When you win three Super Bowls, three championships, in any sport, you’re considered a dynasty. You’re considered one of the best franchises that have every played the team game. But, we’re not playing their franchise. We’re not playing their history or their legacy. We’re playing the New England Patriots team of this year, and they’re damn good still. We’re not going to get into what they’ve done over the course of the last five or six years. We’re going by what they’re doing now. They’re still a very explosive team on offense and defense. But you compare them to any other franchises out there. In basketball — Lakers, Celtics. In hockey, you can compare them to the Red Wings. (Ravens running back Willis McGahee shouts from the side: ‘The Marlins!’) Willis said the Marlins. But in baseball, you can compare them to someone like the Yankees, the franchises that win championships. They’re right up there with the rest of the franchises as far as what they’ve been able to accomplish in a team sport.”
— Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason to the Baltimore media Wednesday, commenting on the recent history of the Patriots’ franchise

Press Box

Patriots
Even with new faces, the Patriots’ defense is getting results.

Give some props to the Patriots’ offensive line, which has quietly been a collective star this season.

Eric Alexander has some serious shoes to fill this week.

Ravens
Ed Reed and Tom Brady will be playing chess Sunday.

Meet the new-look Ravens, who aren’t just about defense anymore.

Matt Birk is helping the NFL research concussions.

NFL
It’s all about momentum in the NFL.

Why the Buccaneers thought Brett Favre would be moving to Tampa.

The Saints have a great offense, but don’t overlook the other side of the ball.

Outlook

With the emergence of second-year quarterback Joe Flacco — who has a “strong, strong, strong arm,” according to Patriots safety Pat Chung — the Ravens are winning games offensively this year, and they’re second in the league with 34.3 points per game and 430.3 yards per game. Surely, they’re a run-first team with the talented combination of the speedy Ray Rice, who handles much of the midfield carries, and veteran Willis McGahee, who gets the ball near the goal line.

If the Patriots can stuff the run like they did against Michael Turner and the Falcons, they should be in good shape against Baltimore’s passing game. Through the air, Cam Cameron’s offense is designed for long receptions, as receivers Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton typically run a lot of downfield, complex routes, and those help tight end Todd Heap get open on shorter patterns over the middle. If the Patriots can pressure Flacco in the backfield, they’ll throw off what the Ravens like to do with their aerial assault.

When the Patriots have the ball, they’ve got to contain the Ravens’ aggressive blitzing schemes, which aren’t as extensive as the ones the New York Jets used, but they’re of a similar nature. The Ravens also like to attack opposing running backs when they blitz, but they don’t do as good of a job as the Jets did there, either, and that was evidenced when the San Diego Chargers executed their screen game against Baltimore in Week 2. If Baltimore’s pressure is too much for quarterback Tom Brady, he will be able to get Kevin Faulk and the running backs a little more involved in the passing game.

The Ravens have a good group of cornerbacks with starters Fabian Washington and Domonique Foxworth, along with nickel cornerback Chris Carr, but they’re not an elite group. Brady should be able to hit his receivers if he’s given time in the pocket.

Baltimore’s safeties are versatile and can provide different looks. Superstar Ed Reed, who some players call the best safety who has ever played the game, likes to roam the entire field, and he probably won’t be matched up over the top of Randy Moss unless the Ravens absolutely need Reed there.

But, just like the Patriots’ game against the Jets, it’s all about limiting the Ravens’ pressure. If Brady has time in the pocket, he’ll be able to manage the offense and keep his defense on the sidelines.

“They’re going to attack you with everything that they have,” Patriots left tackle Matt Light said. “They’re going to come after you. They’re going to blitz you quite a bit. Ultimately, it just comes down to us getting a hat on a hat and hopefully giving Tommy and the guys running the ball time to make the decisions they need to make.”

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