Final, Patriots 35-31: A Joe Flacco Hail Mary falls incomplete, and that will do it.
The Patriots now advance to the AFC Championship Game, where they’ll host either the Denver Broncos or the Indianapolis Colts.
Fourth quarter, 1:39, Patriots 35-31: Football will be played at Gillette Stadium next weekend.
Duron Harmon picked off Joe Flacco in the end zone, all but sealing a Patriots victory.
Fourth quarter, 5:13, Patriots 35-31: Tom Brady finds Brandon LaFell on a 23-yard touchdown pass to give the Patriots their first lead of the evening.
It was the 46th postseason touchdown pass of Brady’s career, moving him past Joe Montana and into first place in NFL history.
Fourth quarter, 8:56, Ravens 31-28: The referee concludes that Vereen’s knee was, in fact, down. The Patriots will retain possession, bringing up a 2nd and 1 at the 50-yard line.
Fourth quarter, 8:56, Ravens 31-28: Shane Vereen puts the ball on the ground, and the Ravens recover. The Patriots challenged the ruling on the field, however, as replays appeared to indicate that Vereen’s knee hit the ground before the ball popped out.
Fourth quarter, 10:19, Ravens 31-28: The Ravens have retaken the lead after a successful field goal attempt.
The Ravens continue to gash the Patriots on the ground, but they couldn’t find the end zone from just 7 yards out.
Safety Patrick Chung made a game-changing play on third down, breaking up a pass intended for tight end Owen Daniels.
The Patriots have a chance to tie or take the lead with 10 minutes left in the game.
End third quarter, 28-28: The Patriots had a strip sack and fumble recovery by linebacker Jamie Collins, but a holding call on Darrelle Revis negated the play.
The Ravens have the ball on their own 47 yard line, facing second and 7.
Third quarter, 3:09, 28-28: Maybe it didn’t turn 180, just 90 degrees or so.
The Patriots went three and out, punted, and now the Ravens have the ball on their own 20.
Third quarter, 3:26, 28-28: Well, this game turned. Devin McCourty just picked off Joe Flacco, and his playoff touchdown streak ends. He hadn’t thrown one since the 2011 AFC Championship.
It looked like McCourty, not Torrey Smith, was running the route.
Third quarter, 4:20, 28-28: Julian Edelman just threw a touchdown pass. That’s all you need to know.
Brady threw a backward pass to Edelman, who chucked it deep to Danny Amendola for a 51-yard touchdown pass.
Third quarter, 5:33, 28-21: The Patriots just had their best defensive series of the game, forcing the Ravens to go three and out and lose a yard.
The Patriots have the ball on their own 31-yard line after Julian Edelman fair caught the punt.
Third quarter, 6:48, 28-21: The Patriots tried some wacky new formations on that drive, which ended with a Gronk spike/touchdown.
On three plays, the Patriots elected to use just four offensive linemen, making Shane Vereen ineligible on two plays and Michael Hoomanawanui on one. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was not happy. It appeared that the Patriots were trying to work around the rules by having Shane Vereen run routes backwards. He couldn’t catch a forward pass from Brady, because he was ineligible, but that doesn’t stop him from catching a backward pass.
Brady tied Joe Montana for most postseason touchdown passes with that score.
Third quarter, 10:22, 28-14: Patriots fans’ greatest fears are being realized. The Ravens went for it on fourth and 6 at their own 36-yard line, and Brandon Browner let up a 35-yard catch to Torrey Smith while interfering. Smith was hit with a taunting penalty, which pushed Baltimore back to their 16, but then Justin Forsett walked in uncovered for a 16-yard TD on the next play.
Third quarter, 14:02, 21-14: The first half didn’t start quite like the Patriots would have wanted. They’re off the field after less than a minute.
It appeared that Gronk was interfered with on a third-down pass from Brady, but the refs didn’t pull out the flag. The calls are going the Ravens’ way so far here.
End half, 21-14: Brady wants that throw back.
The Ravens drove down the field and scored in under a minute. Flacco drew a long pass-interference flag on Darrelle Revis. It looked like it should have been offensive pass interference on Steve Smith. He had more contact down the field than Revis.
Tight end Owen Daniels somehow caught the TD despite solid coverage by linebacker Dont’a Hightower. Flacco fit his pass through a tiny window.
That TD is on Brady, though.
That was the third time Brady has thrown an interception with less than two minutes left in the half. He also did it against the Colts and Chargers. The Patriots won both of those games. Brady was targeting Gronkowski on all three picks.
Center Bryan Stork is out with his knee injury.
Second quarter, 1:03, 14-14: The Patriots ruined their chances of a free score. Brady threw an ugly pick on a pass intended for Rob Gronkowski.
That’s not the first time Brady has done that this season. Fortunately for Patriots fans, he usually comes out firing in the second half.
Second quarter, 1:47, 14-14: Some not-so-gutsy play-calling just did the Patriots a big favor. The Ravens, facing fourth and 1, decided to punt, despite averaging 6.7 yards per carry on the ground.
Second quarter, 3:37, 14-14: And just like that, we’re all tied up.
Danny Amendola scored from 15 yards out. He shook a tackle after catching Brady’s pass on a short out route, then he torpedoed into the end zone for the score.
Brady hit tight end Rob Gronkowski for a big play earlier in the drive. Julian Edelman also somehow recovered his own fumble despite five Ravens around him.
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Second quarter, 7:13, Ravens 14-7: Starting Patriots center Bryan Stork is questionable to return with a knee injury. Ryan Wendell slide to center with Josh Kline coming off the bench to play right guard.
The Ravens’ drive ended with a Devin McCourty pass breakup. The Patriots safety slid down to play inside the box to cover tight end Owen Daniels.
Second quarter, 9:26, Ravens 14-7: The Patriots’ offense was driving down the field and looked in good position to at least kick a field goal, then Brady ate two sacks, and the Patriots were forced to punt.
The Patriots were flagged for taunting on the return after Chris White got in a few extra words, and now the Ravens have the ball on their own 25-yard line.
Brady was heated after he was sacked the second time. It was unclear why he got up talking and shoving, though he might have been kneed in the head.
Second quarter, 14:22, Ravens 14-7: The Patriots’ defense did its job on that series.
Brandon Browner drew an unnecessary roughness penalty out of Torry Smith after some extracurricular activities. Some well-timed pressure also forced a poor throw out of Flacco.
End first quarter, Ravens 14-7: The first quarter ends with Ravens receiver Steve Smith shaken up. He just popped up and ran to the sideline, however, so it looks like he should be OK.
First quarter, :48, Ravens 14-7: The Patriots responded in a big way. After hitting Rob Gronkowski for two long gains, Tom Brady scrambled in for a 4-yard touchdown run when he couldn’t find an open receiver.
First quarter, 4:44, Ravens 14-0: The Patriots have dug themselves a pretty deep hole here to start the game.
The Ravens just drove down the field with ease again, and the Ravens lead by two touchdowns before the Patriots know what hit them.
The Patriots can’t stop the run or pass, and they’re getting straight-up embarrassed.
First quarter, 10:53, Ravens 7-0: The Patriots started driving down the field, but some questionable throws by Brady stalled the offense. Amendola made an incredible diving catch on third and 4 for the first down, but John Harbaugh challenged the play, and the ruling was reversed.
The Patriots punted, and the Ravens have the ball on their own 21-yard line.
First quarter, 12:18, Ravens 7-0: The Ravens didn’t take too much time to shove the ball down the Patriots’ throats and score a TD. Joe Flacco had no issue finding holes in the Patriots’ coverage.
Ravens wideout Kamar Aiken scored on a 19-yard touchdown reception. The play is under review.
The ruling on the field stands.
Starting wideout Torrey Smith ran to the locker room between plays. He took a hard hit from safety Devin McCourty on a 22-yard catch earlier in the drive.
First quarter, 15:00: Jacoby Jones is back to take the kick. It’s on.
4:28 p.m.: Jerod Mayo is on the sideline despite his injury. He led the Patriots’ pregame pump-up huddle, as he usually does when healthy.
The Ravens called tails and lost the coin toss. The Patriots chose to defer, as always.
4:25 p.m.: The field has been cleared, and we’re just waiting for the opening bars of “Crazy Train” to introduce the Patriots here 10 minutes before kickoff.
4:07 p.m.: The majority of Patriots players are going sleeveless or with shortsleeves today. Only Brady, fellow QB Jimmy Garoppolo linebacker Jamie Collins, cornerbacks Malcolm Butler Logan Ryan, safeties Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and Tavon Wilson, receiver Danny Amendola, punter Ryan Allen, long snapper Danny Aiken and kicker Stephen Gostkowski have long sleeves on.
3:51 p.m.: Tom Brady has taken the field for the Patriots to his usual entrance music, Jay Z’s “Public Service Announcement.”
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Julian Edelman looks like a psychopath, wearing short sleeves in 21-degree weather.
3:45 p.m. We’re 50 minutes away from kickoff. Anyone looking for some pregame reading?
3:37 p.m.: The Patriots’ specialists are the only ones out on the field in full uniform so far. The Patriots are wearing navy jerseys and silver pants, as expected.
3:08 p.m.: The Patriots’ divisional-round inactives are out. Running back Jonas Gray, who was nursing an ankle injury this week, headlines the list.
Here’s the full list:
RB Jonas Gray
RB James White
OL Cam Fleming
OL Jordan Devey
DE Zach Moore
TE Steve Maneri
WR Josh Boyce
Gray was listed as probable on the injury report. The rest of the Patriots inactives are healthy scratches with a mostly healthy roster.
Here are the Ravens’ inactives:
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Starting left tackle Eugene Monroe is active.
2:05 p.m.: Julian Edelman is the first player on the field for the Patriots. He’s going through his typical one-handed catch routine with a Patriots staffer.
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1:25 p.m.: We’re three hours and 10 minutes away from kickoff — not that I’m counting or anything.
It’s currently 24 degrees and sunny in Foxboro, but compared to the last few days, it feels downright tropical outside.
There’s not much meaningful activity yet on the Gillette Stadium game field. No players from either side have been spotted yet.
Julian Edelman typically is the first player on the field for the Patriots. He appears ready to go based on his Instagram account.
8 a.m. ET: After 20 long, grueling days, the New England Patriots finally are playing another meaningful football game.
Be sure to pack on some extra layers if you plan on heading down Route 1 to attend the game: It’s going to be a cold one.
The Weather Channel alerts us that it will be 19 degrees — the wind chill makes it feel like 8 — at 4:35 p.m. for kickoff, and temperatures should drop to 15 by the time the game concludes.
The Patriots, of course, are used to this weather by now. They had to play in it all week, while the Ravens were forced to practice inside because of frozen practice fields. The Patriots combatted a similar issue by practicing on the Gillette Stadium game field Wednesday and Thursday.
The cold could effect Saturday night’s game, too. The football will get hard and slick, which could make passing more difficult and fumbling more frequent. Muscles get cold and tight, so no player will likely be playing at 100 percent.
The Bill Belichick and Tom Brady Patriots are 2-1 in playoff games when the temperature is 20 degrees or less. Their one loss? Yep, you guessed it: It came exactly five years ago against the Baltimore Ravens, when the Patriots lost 33-14 at Gillette Stadium.
That’s not to say the result of this game will be the same. The Patriots absolutely should win this game, but it seems like anything can happen against the Ravens, who have handed New England two of its three home playoff losses since 2001.
I don’t expect this game to go the same way, though. The Patriots have a more talented roster, and they didn’t have Rob Gronkowski or Darrelle Revis the last time the Ravens came to Foxboro and won in the postseason. Brady typically is a fantastic cold-weather quarterback. He’s 25-6 in games below freezing, while Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is 7-4.
My prediction: Patriots 33-20.
Thumbnail photo via Elise Amendola/Associated Press