Ravens get rematch with Patriots

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Baltimore Ravens managed to outlast the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, clinching a return trip to the playoffs for the second consecutive year. Now, they're traveling to an even tougher proving ground.

By virtue of their 21-13 win on Sunday, the sixth-seeded Ravens (9-7) will square off again with the AFC East champion New England Patriots (10-6) next Sunday at Gillette Stadium in an AFC-wild-card game. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

The Ravens narrowly lost to New England, 27-21, during the fourth week of the regular season earlier this year as wide receiver Mark Clayton dropped a fourth-down pass inside the Patriots' five-yard line with 28 seconds remaining.

"We're going to play New England at New England and we've been there before, we've been there lots," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We're pretty comfortable, we know our way around, we know where the locker rooms are at and we're looking forward to playing the New England Patriots in the playoffs.

"You've got to respect the New England Patriots for all they represent. At the same time, it's a football team playing another football team.

We're going to go out there and try to play our best football. It's going to be a heck of a football game."

The Patriots lost their regular-season finale against the Houston Texans on Sunday, and they lost wide receiver Wes Welker for the remainder of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

There are also multiple reports that star quarterback Tom Brady has been playing with broken ribs.

Earlier this season, the Ravens were edged out by the Patriots despite Ray Rice's 103-yard rushing performance.

After that game, the Ravens complained about a pair of roughing-the-passer penalties on outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata for hits on Brady. Suggs, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis alleged that Brady gets special treatment from officials.

"They're a great team," Suggs said. "They have one of the greatest quarterbacks of the decade. We're both here, and it's going to be a great game."

Now, here comes Round II.

"It's going to be a dogfight," cornerback Chris Carr said. "After that first game, I think they know they're going to have to play a lot better to beat us this time. So, hey, we'll see what happens."

Quarterback Joe Flacco became the first rookie passer to win two playoff games last season as the Ravens made it to the AFC championship game before being dispatched by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Flacco made it abundantly clear that the Ravens have set their sights on advancing to the AFC divisional round.

"We were up there earlier this year, and we feel like we should have gotten one," Flacco said.

"It's our chance to go up there and try to get it back and prove to everybody and prove to ourselves that we can beat these guys. New England is where it starts."

The Ravens have lost five games this season by six points or less.

And they had to gut it out against the Raiders on Sunday to make it to the postseason.

"I wouldn't have it any other way," linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said. "Anything worth having is worth fighting for. All the games we lost were close. It just makes us stronger for the playoffs."


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