Final, Patriots 23-20: Wow, what a finish. Joe Flacco drove the Ravens to the 14-yard line, but Billy Cundiff hooked a 32-yard field goal and the Patriots are going to the Super Bowl. Sterling Moore is going to get plenty of pub after this one for breaking up Lee Evans’ potential touchdown.
Unbelievable. What a wild, wild game. Stay with NESN.com for complete postgame coverage.
Fourth quarter, 1:53, Patriots 23-20: The defense will need its third consecutive stop, as the Patriots didn’t gain a single first down on the drive, and the Ravens didn’t even use a timeout. Let’s see what the defense has got here, and Joe Flacco has a chance to get the credit he’s been craving.
Fourth quarter, 2:46, Patriots 23-20: The Patriots’ defense has answered the call in a major way in the fourth quarter, and now it’s on their offense to get them to the Super Bowl. Rather than attempting a 50-yard field goal — after Vince Wilfork and company tackled Ray Rice for a three-yard loss on third-and-3 — the Ravens went for it on fourth down. New England’s defense had excellent man coverage all the way across the board, and Joe Flacco had to heave up a prayer that hit the turf.
The Patriots take over at their own 33, and the Ravens have two timeouts and the two-minute warning. By a quick calculation, the Patriots will likely need at least two first downs to win the game.
Fourth quarter, 7:07, Patriots 23-20: And so much for that. Tom Brady made another dumb decision and chucked it up for Matt Slater in double coverage in the end zone, and Bernard Pollard tipped the ball to keep it in the air, and Jimmy Smith picked it off as it was inches from the ground.
That’s the Patriots’ third turnover, and the Ravens have never lost a playoff game under John Harbaugh when they’ve forced at least three turnovers (5-0).
Fourth quarter, 7:22, Patriots 23-20: I’m going to channel my inner Jack Edwards for a second: This building is vibrating. Brandon Spikes made an unbelievable play to intercept Joe Flacco’s pass with one hand, and the Patriots have it at the 50.
I’ve never felt the building shake like this before. It’s crazy.
Now the PA is playing “Dream On,” which is always great.
Fourth quarter, 11:12, Patriots 23-20: Kyle Arrington has returned to the field after missing the whole third quarter with an eye injury. It’s also unbelievable that Rob Gronkowski returned after his left leg got twisted up by the Patriots’ personal witch doctor, Bernard Pollard. Gronkowski is on the sideline talking with people and acting like he didn’t just have his leg put through a meat grinder. The guy is unreal.
Fourth Quarter, 11:29, Patriots 23-20: Tom Brady puts the Patriots back on top, but it’s not how you’d expect.
On fourth-and-1 from the goal line, Brady leaps over the pile for the go-ahead touchdown.
The good news doesn’t end there for Patirots fans. Rob Gronkowski returned to the game a play before the Brady touchdown after suffering a pretty grusome-looking injury on the same drive.
End of Third Quater, Ravens 20-16: Near the end of the third quarter with the Patriots driving, Rob Gronkowski came down awkardly on his left leg.
The hit, courtesy of Bernard Pollard, sent Gronkowski back to the locker room. There’s no update on his condition yet.
Third quarter, 0:50, Ravens 20-16: New England’s defense held up after the Ravens had a first-and-goal there, but Billy Cundiff kicked a 39-yard field goal to give the Ravens 10 points in less than three minutes.
Tom Brady hasn’t touched the ball in more than eight minutes. This third quarter has been almost perfect for Baltimore.
There have been Internet issues here, so apologies for the delay in the updates.
Third quarter, 3:26, Ravens 17-16: Now, this is a major spot in the game. Danny Woodhead fumbled the kickoff return, and both Rob Gronkowski and Lousaka Polite failed to recover it, setting up the Ravens at the New England 28.
Third quarter, 3:38, Ravens 17-16: Wow, referee Alberto Riveron reviewed the Torrey Smith touchdown, and despite CBS showing Smith’s foot went out at the 4-yard line, Riveron allowed the play to stand. With the way both defenses have played in the red zone in this game, that’s a huge call.
Either way, the touchdown came on the Ravens’ third conversion on third down on the drive. The Patriots sent a heavy blitz and left man coverage across the board, but Sterling Moore’s arm tackle couldn’t contain Smith, who beat Devin McCourty down the right sideline for the score that gave the Ravens their first lead of the game.
Have to hand it to Joe Flacco, he’s making some amazing throws.
Kyle Arrington has remained on the sideline in a winter coat. Not looking good for his return.
Third quarter, 9:06, Patriots 16-10: The Patriots have settled for their third red-zone field goal in four trips, and that’s been the story of the offense so far. The Ravens ate up the Patriots’ attempt to run the ball with BenJarvus Green-Ellis on third-and-2, and he only got a yard on the play to set up the 24-yard field goal.
Aaron Hernandez ran the ball three times for nine yards on the possession, but his biggest play came on a third-down conversion when he caught a pass in the right flat and shook Bernard Pollard shy of the sticks before gaining 12 yards.
Tom Brady and Ray Lewis got in each others’ faces after Lewis hit Brady as he slid during a quarterback sneak. Then, naturally, Terrell Suggs got in Brady’s face as he walked away. The crowd gave Brady a big cheer when the replay was shown on the video boards.
Third quarter, 15:00, Patriots 13-10: The Patriots will start at their own 20 after the kickoff went for a touchback.
One thing to keep in mind: The Ravens only trail by three points, while Ray Rice has been limited to 21 rushing yards on 10 carries and just a single reception for 11 yards. Joe Flacco has been able to find comfort elsewhere, which has been a wild card for him this season.
Kyle Arrington is on the sideline in a winter hat. No idea if he’ll return when the defense has to take the field, but the positive sign is he didn’t stay in the locker room at halftime.
Halftime, Patriots 13-10: The Patriots’ defense held up, but the offense decided to take a pair of knees in the last 58 seconds to send the game to halftime. Interesting decision, and it was met with boos by the home crowd, but they’ve got the lead and will have the opening possession of the third quarter. Tom Brady has found more of a rhythm since the interception, but I guess the risk wasn’t worth the potential reward.
Kyle Arrington left the game with an eye injury and is questionable to return. He was sitting on the bench rubbing his right eye, and he had his helmet in his left hand. At the very least, it’s a good sign he had his helmet in tow. He was replaced by Antwaun Molden.
Vince Wilfork had to get his left arm wrapped with a large black sleeve, but he returned to the field. He’s been the best player in the game to this point.
The Patriots are probably happy with the lead but less than thrilled with their execution. Brady’s interception was a result of one of his poorest decisions of the season, and he also missed Rob Gronkowski for a wide-open touchdown on the second series of the game.
Second quarter, 3:00, Patriots 13-10: Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 35-yard field goal to give the Patriots their third lead of the game, but these next three minutes will be really important for both teams. Tom Brady’s third-down pass for Rob Gronkowski should have been good for the conversion, but Gronkowski couldn’t tap his second foot down before going out of bounds.
Nate Solder got beat inside again, this time by Terrell Suggs, and Brady had to throw the ball away.
The Ravens have almost no lateral speed over the middle of the field. Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are beating their coverages over the middle consistently, and it doesn’t matter if it’s Bernard Pollard, Ed Reed or Ray Lewis.
Second quarter, 6:03, 10-10: After an awful start, Joe Flacco has gotten into a groove. He evaded a little pressure in the pocket to roll out and hit Dennis Pitta for a six-yard touchdown. Flacco has started to attack Kyle Arrington, who is really guarding against the deep ball. Torry Smith exposed it on a hitch route on the previous drive, and Lee Evans and Anquan Boldin beat Arrington by cutting toward the middle of the field on this drive.
Tough run by Ray Rice on third down by the goal line. Vince Wilfork and Brandon Spikes blew up the gap on the right side of the offensive line, and Rice should have lost a couple yards. Instead, no one wrapped him up, and he fell forward for the yard to the inside. Baltimore scored two plays later.
Second quarter, 10:35, Patriots 10-3: BenJarvus Green-Ellis survived a near-death experience and then scored a touchdown. Not a bad string of plays for him. Green-Ellis got his helmet ripped off and then quickly ducked to the ground to avoid Ray Lewis, whose helmet was submarining in Green-Ellis’ direction. That would have been as ugly as ugly gets.
Green-Ellis got free from some great blocks by Nate Solder (on Lewis) and Logan Mankins to nearly go untouched on his way to a seven-yard touchdown run, and the holes were open throughout the drive. New England’s offensive linemen came to play on that series, springing Green-Ellis for 36 yards on five carries.
Second quarter, 14:21, 3-3: Billy Cundiff kicked a 20-yard field goal to knot the score after they were inches short on third down. Can’t argue with taking the points this early in the game, especially since the Baltimore defense is playing pretty well and starting to get to Tom Brady.
By the way, Steven Tyler was caught on the video boards singing to his own song. Is that allowed? I don’t know the rules to that one.
Right tackle Michael Oher limped off the field on that series with an unknown injury. There haven’t been any updates yet.
End of first quarter, Patriots 3-0: The Ravens have a third-and-5 at the New England 7 here, and the Patriots need a stop to keep the pressure off Tom Brady, who has been off on some throws so far. The Ravens got to this point on the first play of the drive, which resulted in a 42-yard pass to Torrey Smith, who was wide open. Joe Flacco underthrew it as poorly as he possible could, though, and it should have been a 70-yard touchdown. Blame Patrick Chung, who bit on the play-action. Devin McCourty allowed Smith to release through the zone, but Chung wasn’t there to pick him up.
First quarter, 3:41, Patriots 3-0: Tom Brady made a very poor decision and paid the price with an interception. Julian Edelman was well-covered by Lardarius Webb, and safety Bernard Pollard was over the top, but Brady tried to squeeze the throw. Webb made a heck of a play to intercept it while falling backward.
The Ravens, who take over at their own 30, have forced at least three turnovers in all five of their playoff victories under John Harbaugh. That’s one.
First quarter, 4:22, Patriots 3-0: Vince Wilfork is single-handedly killing the Ravens in this game. He blew up Ricky Williams on first down with one arm and then beat a double team from the nose to sack Joe Flacco on third down. The Ravens have run nine offensive plays, and just off the top of my head, Wilfork has blown up four of them.
The Patriots take over at their own 40 after the punt.
First quarter, 5:49, Patriots 3-0: Tom Brady is going to be pretty ticked at himself for leaving points on the board, even though the Patriots took the lead. Brady’s awful — and I mean awful — throw missed a wide-open Rob Gronkowski in the right seam, and Gronkowski would have been able to slowly crawl backward into the end zone. Instead, Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 29-yard field goal a few plays later.
Nate Solder gave up a bad sack to Paul Kruger, who made one move to the inside to get a clean hit on Brady. I’m surprised Brady didn’t see it coming, but then again, when he lines up his right tackle to take a guy one-on-one, Brady probably doesn’t expect to get hit so quickly.
Bernard Pollard — yeah, you know him — had an interception taken away due to Lardarius Webb’s illegal contact penalty on Wes Welker. It was the right call, and it was immediately made.
Julian Edelman made a really nice diving catch on third down to get the Patriots across the chains. As Edelman hit the ground, he shifted the ball to his left hand to get the good spot. Edelman has played on both sides of the ball already.
First quarter, 11:09, 0-0: Another three-and-out, and Vince Wilfork had a huge play on third down to flush Joe Flacco out of the pocket, and Mark Anderson came from behind to sack him. The Patriots are hot on defense right now, and they’ve already forced Flacco to get happy with his footwork. It will be a long day if they don’t get Ray Rice more involved.
New England takes over at its own 39.
First quarter, 12:49, 0-0: Tom Brady and Joe Flacco have exchanged three-and-outs, which will make the Ravens happy. The Patriots gave away an opportunity, as they had second-and-3 from their own 47 before the drive ended with two incompletions. Then, Zoltan Mesko’s punt rolled into the end zone to give the Ravens the ball at their own 20 again. The Patriots couldn’t capitalize with good field position or pin the Ravens deep.
First quarter, 13:33, 0-0: This place is wildly loud. Great atmosphere. The Ravens went three-and-out, as it looked like they tried a similar play that turned into an 83-yard touchdown in the 2009 playoff opener on first down. Patrick Chung nearly intercepted a second-down pass, and Dane Fletcher took down Joe Flacco as he scrambled for six yards on third down. The Pats take over at their own 40.
Julian Edelman played as a slot corner on third down, as Devin McCourty moved to safety and James Ihedigbo moved up into a linebacker spot. Sterling Moore moved to McCourty’s spot at corner.
First quarter, 15:00, 0-0: Stephen Gostkowski’s opening kickoff went for a touchback, and Baltimore starts at its 20.
3:01 p.m.: The Ravens called heads, lost the toss and the Patriots elected to defer.
2:54 p.m.: Drew Bledsoe received a booming ovation from the crowd as he was introduced as an honorary captain, and Troy Brown, Ty Law and Tedy Bruschi got some nice ovations, too. They then went to the 50-yard line and unveiled their jerseys, which all had the “MHK” patch on them. Nice touch.
2:43 p.m.: Forgot to mention, Bill Belichick was talking with Drew Bledsoe, Tedy Bruschi, Troy Brown, Ty Law and Rodney Harrison during pregame warmups. What a crew.
2:38 p.m.: The Patrios have departed to the locker room for their final meeting before kickoff, and the field at Gillette is as quiet as it will be for a few hours.
It’s also gotten very cloudy here. I can’t see a ray of sun.
Here are some more details on the inactive list, which includes Chad Ochocinco and Stevan Ridley.
Ochocinco went to his father’s funeral Saturday, according to Yahoo! Sports, but the Boston Globe reported Ochocinco is back in New England.
1:31 p.m.: Chad Ochocinco will not play Sunday against the Ravens. He is inactive along with Stevan Ridley, Sebastian Vollmer, Gary Guyton, Donald Thomas, Shane Vereen and Ryan Mallett.
Ridley is a big surprise, but I guess he’s paying the price for his fumble last week.
Ron Brace and Nate Jones are active after sitting out last week’s game against the Broncos. Interesting the Patriots subbed out two offensive players for two defensive players. More analysis to follow.
1:22 p.m.: Wes Welker is warming up, and he’s got a jacket on with actual sleeves. Last week, remember, there was a one-upping no-sleeves contest between Welker and Tim Tebow.
1:16 p.m.: Marcus Cannon was on the field stretching, and he was wearing game socks. This could potentially mean Sebastian Vollmer won’t play, though it’s not the ultimate indicator.
And yes, “game socks” is a wicked corny term, but it conveys the message that said player has started to dress to play. It’s not always a direct correlation, but it’s definitely worth noting.
1:13 p.m.: Kevin Faulk, James Ihedigbo and Ryan Mallett are also on the field. Still no sign of the medical staff, though I’m not sure anyone other than Sebastian Vollmer would be a game-time decision.
1:09 p.m.: The normal cast of Patriots have hit the field for early warmups. Brian Hoyer, Danny Woodhead, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Brian Waters and Nate Solder are getting loose. Solder was listed as questionable with a concussion, so I’m guessing this means he’s been cleared to play. No sense in trotting out a guy at this point if he was medically ruled out.
12:59 p.m.: Steven Tyler is warming up for the national anthem, and I’ve never seen such an in-depth process for the practice run. There are a bunch of people on the field working with him, and I have no idea what they’re actually doing. But hey, he’s Steven Tyler.
12:41 p.m.: As part of the pregame festivities, Steven Tyler will sing the national anthem, and there’s going to be a flyover. I am a big fan of flyovers, especially when Kenny Loggins is played right after. Now you know.
12:32 p.m.: The 49ers and Giants each have two scouts here at Gillette. One of them will be very busy by the end of the day. The other got a free vacation in New England.
Zoltan Mesko, Stephen Gostkowski and Danny Aiken are the first Patriots on the field to warm up.
12:25 p.m.: Just got to Gillette Stadium, where it’s about 30 degrees and mostly cloudy. Several Ravens, including quarterback Joe Flacco, have taken the field to check out the conditions. The tarp was on the field during each of this week’s snowstorms, so there shouldn’t be any issues with the carpet.
Here is a view from my seat, if you’re interested in that sort of thing.
The traffic on Route 1 was about as bad as it could be. The highways were clear, but it took about 45 minutes to drive through the last three miles up to the stadium.
8:00 a.m. ET: Next stop, the Super Bowl.
The Patriots are one step away getting back to the Super Bowl for the seventh time in franchise history and the fifth time under head coach Bill Belichick. But they’ve got a massive challenge ahead of them in a Ravens team that doesn’t care about New England’s mystique.
The AFC’s top-two seeds square off at 3 p.m. at Gillette Stadium, and it’s sure to be an amazing game, as New England’s prestigious offense battles Baltimore’s tenacious defense.
Stay with NESN.com’s live blog throughout the day. We’ll keep you up to speed with everything happening at Gillette, where one of these teams will make reservations for Indianapolis.
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