By Kevin Saleeba, Patriots Insider
There were five major plays that went wrong for the Patriots leading to their 28-13 loss in the AFC Championship game against the Ravens Sunday.
First on the list of things that went wrong for New England was Ravens safety Bernard Pollard's knockout hit on running back Stephen Ridley in the fourth quarter.
With the Patriots trailing 21-13, New England began to move the ball. On a first down run from the Patriots 39-yard-line, Ridley rushed through the right gap for eight yards when Bernard Pollard made a crushing helmet-to-helmet hit knocking out the Patriots running back. With Ridley losing apparent consciousness from the collision, as he fell to the turf, his body went limp and he lost the ball, in which the Ravens recovered. Four plays later, the Ravens score and build an insurmountable 28-13 lead.
Down 28-13 midway through the fourth quarter, Brady hit receiver Wes Welker on a 36 yard catch and run to the Baltimore 24-yard-line. The Patriots still had about seven minutes left for a comeback push, but the very next play, a Brady pass was tipped at the line. The ball shot high in the air and pop-up came down in the arms of Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. End of comeback!
At the end of the second quarter, the Patriots had first and goal from the Ravens' ten and 26 seconds to work with. Brady could not find an open receiver in the end zone on first down, but instead of throwing the ball away, he ran for three yards to the left.
Then, instead of stopping the clock in the teens with their final time out, which would have given the offense an opportunity to take a few more shots into the end zone, Brady tried rushing the team to the line to spike the ball. As the clock kept ticking, the Patriots could not get organized and they ended up using the time out anyway with four seconds left. The Patriots kicked the field goal, but they wasted an opportunity to score more points. They did not score the rest of the game.
It was a play that harkened back to Welker's key Super Bowl XLVI drop pass. The Patriots were driving and seemingly in control of the AFC Championship game. New England had the ball on the Ravens 34 yard line on a third and eight and a 13-7 lead.
Brady spotted Welker making his break along the left sideline and gunned it to the Patriots all-time leading receiver. Much like the Super Bowl a year ago, when it came time to make a play, Welker let the ball slip right through his fingers for an incomplete pass. If Welker makes the catch, it would have been first down near the 20 yard line. It turned out to be another possible scoring drive going for nothing. The Ravens went on to score 21 unanswered points from that point on in the game.
When New England cornerback Aquib Talib left late in the first quarter after hurting his thigh, the Patriots pass defense was exposed and exploited by the Ravens air attack. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had difficulty completing passes with Talib on the field. With Talib on the sideline, Baltimore went to a more up-tempo style offense, playing out of the shot gun in three wide receiver sets. After only throwing for 81 yards in the first half, Flacco threw for 159 yards on 15 completions and three touchdowns.
Talib had Ravens receiver Anquan Bolden on locked down to start the game. Bolden had no catches in the first half. With no Talib in the second half, Bolden had five receptions for 60 yards and two touchdowns.
No Talib meant no aggressive pass defense against Flacco and the Ravens and no Super Bowl for the Patriots.
Kevin Saleeba is a frequent contributor and columnist to Patriots Insider. A former beat writer for local media, Kevin has extensive knowledge of the team and experience covering the Patriots.
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Kevin Saleeba is a frequent contributor and columnist to Patriots Insider. A former beat writer for local media, Kevin has extensive knowledge of the team and experience covering the Patriots. Share your thoughts on this article, or send your questions to Kevin ( on Facebook ).
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