New England is still heading to the Super Bowl for the fifth time in 11 years, and the Pats will be looking to win their fourth title in that span.
Sunday's effort was all about the team. So many times this season, it's been easy to point to one or two single performers and easily say they're deserving of the game ball. But with so many different players — some unexpected — contributing, this week's game ball is much more difficult to hand out.
Tom Brady admitted after the game that he didn't play well on Sunday. He finished 22-for-36 for 239 yards, and didn't throw a touchdown while tossing two interceptions. Those numbers, as Brady noted, are far from great. But the Patriots quarterback, who will be seeking his fourth Super Bowl ring in two weeks, did score the game-winning touchdown with a 1-yard plunge on fourth-down in the fourth quarter. That capped off a 63-yard drive that he orchestrated.
The Pats tried to establish the run throughout the contest, as the Ravens held Brady in check for the most part. BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran the ball 15 times for 68 yards — or 4.5 yards per carry. He also scored a touchdown in the second quarter.
Many of the questions coming into the postseason — and this game, in particular — were about whether the Patriots' defense could elevate its game. The unit did just that on Sunday, and many players were responsible.
Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork was dominant in the win. He recorded three tackles and a sack, and more importantly, he spearheaded the team's containment of running back Ray Rice, who was limited to 78 total yards.
Brandon Spikes was another key player in those efforts, as he played well in the middle, while also chipping in an interception. He finished with two tackles, seven assists and a pass deflection, in addition to the nifty one-handed pick.
Then, there's perhaps the most unlikeliest of heroes, cornerback Sterling Moore.
Moore missed a tackle that led to a 29-yard touchdown for wide receiver Torrey Smith in the third quarter, but he more than atoned for that mistake by knocking a potential game-winning touchdown grab out of Lee Evans' hands in the final minute.
Undoubtedly, this game ball belongs to the team as a whole. But who should be the one to receive it on behalf of the team?
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