2016 Season Blog.

Pats Vs Ravens.

4th Quarter.


Greetings Pats Fans,

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Champion Type Toughness!


They had to put Edelman in to receive the punt to start the 4th quarter. He let it bounce and didn't try to return it. I thought he got a little too close to it after watching Cyrus dance so dangerously with two bouncing oblongs.

All's I could think about was my 7-things for Sunday Night. I said we would learn more about this team, as a Super Bowl Contender, than in any other game this season. With the Raiders losing, which put both KC and the Raiders a full game behind the Pats, this was their first do or die Playoff game. I'm not sure they can go into KC and win in the AFC Champ game. They needed this win against the best defense in the NFL at Home. They beat the crap out of the Ravens in the 1st half. That was the best beating they had given to this team in their, what, decade or so rivalry. But then they not only let them off the mat, they took the old one-two combo right in the face. Twice. And got knocked to the mat by the specialteam fumble into a TD combination.

So now the question this team had to answer was could they get up off the mat, like the Ravens just did, and punch their way back to victory. That question had not been answered yet this season. In fact, just the opposite. They had played so many cupcakes that it seemed they had five Bye Weeks this season.

"Every game is tough to win in this league," BB said. "Each week we kind of go through the same process. Build through preparation, go out and play as hard as we can and then empty the tank out there and leave it all on the field then come back and start it all over again. We'll do the same thing this week. The Ravens are a good team. They're tough. They do a lot of things well. We just did a few things a little bit better tonight but we'll take it." Yeah-yeah, I get it Bill, this is the NFL. But seriously? Cleveland? New Jersey? The Friggin' Rams?

The Pats had two straight three and outs after they got up off the mat the second time. But, the Pats defense was terrific. They bottled up the Ravens Offense with their zone and three-man rush. The three and four man rushes caused just enough trouble for Flacco that he kept dumping the ball off, and even false started on a play that would have been a key 1st down.

The Ravens then got called for a Hold at the 11-minute mark, after they picked up a key 1st down. The Pats defense lined up in a 4-2 Nickel. With Hightower and Roberts in at ILB. Flacco dropped, turned, and then dropped the ball into Perriman's breadbasket 46-yards down field.

1st and 10 Ravens at the 29, they lined up in a 3-Wide Weak shotgun. The Pats matched up in a Nickel, with five guys on the line and Hightower behind them. Sheard had a good rush, and just as he broke inside Flacco threw to the tight end crossing. Hightower and McCourty took him down.

2nd and 3, the Ravens showed a 3-Wide Strong shotgun. The Pats matched up in a meandering Nickel. Which ended up the same, as they lined up in, on 1st down. Flacco handed the ball off inside on a Smash. Long and McClellin were their to slow him, and Hightower and Ryan moved in to take him down after the second surge for the First.

1st and 10, the Ravens lined up in an I. The Pats matched up in a 3-4 with both Safeties up. They handed the ball off to Dixon, and he barely sliced between Van Noy and Hightower in the backfield. Branch took him down with help from Valentine and Chung.

2nd and 5, they lined up in a 3-Wide I. The Pats matched up in a 3-3 Nickel with a Chung in the box. Branch burst right up the gut, and flushed Flacco off the play action. The rest of the D-line went the wrong way. He tried to get in front of him but couldn't. He looked like a giant Sumo chasing Ronald McDonald outside. However, he slowed Flacco enough for Long to get back in the play, and he just stopped him from turning upfield for a First. That was a great play by Branch.

3rd and 4, the Ravens stab themselves in the foot, and are forced to waste a timeout. They lined back up in a bunched up Strong shotgun. The Pats matched up in a 3-3 Nickel. The Pats finally blitzed. They sent six. Ninkovich stunted behind Branch and Brown, and swung around right into Flacco.

Brown and Flowers dived onto of Flacco as well. "[Rob's sack was] huge. Huge!" BB shrieked. "That was a big third-down stop. I'd say probably both teams played quite a bit of zone defense tonight. We were able to make [Joe] Flacco hold the ball just a little bit and get to him." It is easy to forget that the Ravens had punched their way back to being within less than a touchdown. That Sack held them to a field goal, and allowed the Pats to hold onto the lead.

The Pats offense came out with no cushion left. The Ravens had counter-punched their way back into this game with 20-straight points. They were now within three points. How would the Pats respond? Would they fold, or would they show the heart of a champion and counter punch their way out of this 2nd Half beating? It was literally make or break time. This was the 15th Round.

The Pats offense lined up on 1st and 10 at the 21-yard line. Brady ran a great play action to Blount. It fooled three of the four rushers. They got stuck on the line. Suggs however got under Cannon and was bulling for Brady. Cannon was able to reanchor and slow him. Both ILB charged up to within three yards of the LOS, and the Safeties blinked.

"It was somewhere there between Elam and Weddle. The play-action was to the other side. Either the safety was supposed to come over. Either Weddle was supposed to come over or Elam was supposed to carry him. I don't know which it was, but something happened there and the play-action might have affected the safety coming over," BB said. "I mean it looks like an easy play, but it's really a little bit of a tough read for the quarterback and the receiver when a coverage kind of breaks down like that. [That was not really] how to read the coverage based on our rules that we have for running against a single-high safety, or a split-safety look. It kind of wasn't really either. So as a receiver you just have to be decisive and take the read that you think it is. It's a little bit of a dirty read and fortunately Tom saw it the same way. It's a case of taking advantage of an opponent's mistake, and in this case we were able to do it. It's a great play by Chris and Tom, good protection. They made an error. We were able to capitalize on it."

Brady stood pretty clean in the pocket. Cannon got knocked back until his back foot was about a yard away from Brady. But he had his hands locked on Suggs, and he was not letting him get either shoulder. Brady looked like he was watching Hogan going down the seam the whole way, and was just waiting for him to look back.

"Yeah, he made a great play," Brady said. "It was off a run fake. Hogs and I.. he was just kind of… [he was] not really the primary receiver on that play. But he saw what I saw [Weddle take two false steps inside], and kind of adjusted his route. And I just tried to put it out there for him. It was a big play. We needed it."

Brady lofted it high over Hogan's head. He just had to run under it. It looked like it was going to go too far. But Brady put just enough touch on it that it dropped ever so elegantly into Hogan's outstretched hands on the Ravens 44-yard line.

"On the touchdown pass it looked like play-action. It looked like it kind of held Weddle a little bit over on the weak side," BB said. "Elam, it looked like he was rotated down to our right. We had thrown the pass to Julian [Edelman] a little bit earlier in the game so it looked like they just kind of got stretched on that with the safeties. Chris split it so obviously that was a huge play for us in the game.

"but our play-action game overall was pretty productive. We hit Marty. We hit Chris. We hit Julian. We got some big plays on those play-action passes which of course always comes off of a productive running game. They're tough to run against but I thought we hung with it. We had some patience and we hit some solid runs and that was a key for us in the game, just to be able to punch out some yards in the running game." Weddle had taken two steps forward off the Play action.

Elam was clearly looking for help over the top from Weddle. "That was me, I should be there. I told everyone play-action was coming, and I move around so much that it hurt me on that play," Weddle said. "It's just unfortunate when you have a chance to win the game and you give them a play like that. It wasn't so much them it was us. They played a phenomenal game, we fought we just didn't get it done." Hogan ran down the seam all alone, like he had farted so badly that everyone turned away from him.

He even turned and looked back at about the 15, because he couldn't hear anyone chasing or coughing. "I have to look at it. I'm just as shocked as you are," Suggs said. "When he threw it, I thought we may have got it. But it was their guy running down the field. We have to look at the film and see what we can correct. Like I said, you can't make a mistake against this guy, he'll make you pay for it, and he made us pay big." That was a Playoff quality counter punch by the Patriot's Offense.

They stunned the Ravens again with a right cross. "I didn't really know what it was... I knew it was an error... I don't know what was going on?" Orr said. "We really didn't have time to talk about it, so it's one thing that we have to go back and correct this week and get it fixed." The Pats just out toughed the Ravens.

The Ravens exploited the two Special Teams blunders, but in the end they weren't tough enough to take that Champ level counter punch. "It was something that is preached about through OTAs, camp and preseason and everything like that," Orr, who is going to be a great player, said. "We want to eliminate big plays and we had a bust and we don't want to give them anything especially going against a team like that. If you miss an assignment, then Tom Brady and those guys are going to exploit that to the max and ultimately, it was one of the plays that cost us." Pats-30. Ravens-20.

The good news is that the last time the Pats had a special teams blunder as bad as they had in this game was in Philly last year. That fake kickoff/drop-kick/punt iron-screw-up thing killed that team mentally. I thought that was the deciding play of the entire season. The Pats never recovered from that mistake, and crashed into the Playoffs out of 1st place.

However this year's team took not only one, but two disastrous Special Team blunders, and converted those kicks in the head into a victory. That is the mental toughness they lacked at the end of last season. The lack of the mental toughness that cost them the Home Game in the Champ Game. Not this year baby! We'll see in Denver again this week, and this time the Pats will pull it out. F the Rocky Mountain Curse.

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