As the thunderous sound of AC/DC's we salute you rang out in the Foxboro air on Sunday, it was a tell tale sign of what was to come in the hard-hitting and well-played affair between the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots.
Before the game, all week long most heard two main questions ... How good is the Patriots defense? And how good is the Baltimore Ravens offense really?
I think both teams answered these questions with authority.
Even though the score might not have shown it, the Patriots defense came up big when it was needed ,even getting their first interception on the year from a tightrope catch by Leigh Bodden. They also shut down the three-headed monster that Baltimore possesses at running back and held them in check for the most part.
When the Ravens' offense hit the field after a opening field goal by the Patriots, it looked like it was going to be a very long day for the New England defense as the Joe Flacco and Derrick Mason tandem cut the secondary apart. The pair connected on six passes for 77 yards and a touchdown to cap off an 80-yard opening drive.
The New England Patriots answered the Ravens' score by driving the ball down the field with ease against a deservedly much-hyped Baltimore defense. The drive ended with Tom Brady sneaking it in for a touchdown.
The return of speedy wideout, Wes Welker made a huge difference today for the Patriot offense. His presence gave Brady the quick outs when the Ravens pass rush had collapsed the pocket.
This game was a seesaw battle pitting solid defensive stands against exceptions offensive performances. Both teams showed why they are two of the elite teams in the AFC.
There were many bright spots for the Patriots today at Gillette. Two of the biggest were the offensive play of tight end Benjamin Watson and running back, Sammy Morris. Both players made big plays when New England needed to convert on third down. Each week Watson has shown improved consistency and playmaking ability. He made two fingertip grabs across the middle for a total of 51 yards to keep the clock moving. Like Watson, Morris made big catches on crucial third downs and rushes hard when the Patriots needed tough first down yardage..
What else can someone say about the defensive play of the Patriots? How about intense?
A few of the bright spots on the defensive side of the ball were the play of the hard hitting Brandon Meriweather, the defensive line play of Mike Wright and the coverage by Brandon McGowan who was all over the field today.
Wright would have had two clean sacks, but one of them was nullified when he scraped Flacco's helmet for a personal foul. He was often seen collapsing the Ravens pocket and getting good penetration on the pass rush.
Meriwether made plays all over the field. He broke up passes, almost picked off three throws and put Rodney Harrison-esque hits on the Ravens receivers.
As for McGowan, his special teams play and on the field presence has really started to shine as the season has progressed. His speed and coverage has been a surprise. He has looked good in a Patriots uniform so far in this young season.
This game had so many different bright spots for the Patriots, it is going to be a difficult choice to decide who gets the game awards for today.
Game Ball: My game ball has to go to Wes Welker. Not because of what he actually did on the field but rather the presence that he brings to the table while he is in the game He didn't have a 12 reception day like week one but he was another weapon on offense that made the Ravens defense stand up and take note. This opened the field up for receivers like Watson, Aiken and Moss.
Game Stall: This goes out to Mark Clayton of the Baltimore Ravens for dropping a first down ball that hit him between the numbers to end the game. The only reason that I give this as my game stall is because this was a well-played, well-fought battle between two early season prize fighters and there were not many negatives in this game.
Play of the Game: This had to be the defensive stop at the end of the game (with a little help from the afore mentioned Clayton) to stop the Ravens on four downs to end the game and bring the Patriots to 3-1 on the season. After a tough battle all day long, what better way to end the game on a defensive stop in the red zone for the Patriots?
After a battle like this, the Patriots will have to lick their wounds and be ready to go mid week preparing for the battle at Mile High and the high flying Denver Broncos.
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