It’s one thing to overcome a 14-point deficit in a playoff game; it’s another thing to overcome a 14-point deficit in a playoff game twice.
Well, that’s exactly what the New England Patriots did this past Saturday, overcoming a two-score deficit in each half to beat the Baltimore Ravens, 35-31, and advance to the AFC Championship.
“If I’m a member of that team, my takeaway is, ‘Thank God, we know we have the best coach. We are always going to be the best-coached team, the better-coached team,’” Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan said on Ferrall on the Bench. “That was a tribute as much to coaching and play-calling and confidence in your team and preparation as anything else. To come back from 14-point deficits in the way they did, yeah, they used trickeration. The Ravens are exactly right. They couldn’t do it without using a little bit of chicanery, a little bit of moxie. So what? Whatever it takes. And that’s been (Bill) Belichcik’s MO. This is nothing new for him – to use trick plays or to use exotic plays or to try to push the envelope logistically or legally. This is absolutely the way he’s been his entire career. I think this is going to send the Patriots into their next game and the rest of the season with even more confidence.”
Ryan, for one, thought the Patriots were in big trouble when they were down 14-0 – and later, when they were down 28-14. Ryan probably wasn’t the only one.
“Positively,” he said. “Because that was the entire dialogue leading up the game. The Ravens were being portrayed as some sort of insurmountable (challenge). And so absolutely when they’re down 14-0 and the Ravens sliced them up as they did in that first period, that was a (validation) of all those fears. But the Patriots did not panic obviously. And that’s where you need to have a leader such as Brady and to have a leader such as Belichick – and they had it.”
Brady finished 33-of-50 for 367 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Julian Edelman had eight caches for 74 yards, but his most important play came via a pass – as in, a 51-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola that tied the game at 28 late in the third quarter.
New England took a 35-31 lead with less than six minutes to go in the fourth and never looked back.
“But positively, that first period was terrifying, and it was really a confirmation of all the fears that people had,” Ryan said. “I’m telling you. This was a very negative week building up to it in terms of the local media and fans that the Patriots were in serious trouble against the Ravens. They had come in three times, won two. The third one in the playoffs, they should have won when Lee Evans dropped a touchdown pass and Billy Cundiff missed an easy chip-shot field goal or else they would have been 3-for-3 against the Patriots in recent years in playoff games in Foxboro. So sure, when you’re down 14, you’re positively worried. Everybody was worried. And I certainly thought, Well, I guess it’s going to happen again.’”
The Patriots host the Colts this Sunday at 6:40 p.m. ET. The winner advances to the Super Bowl on Feb. 1 to face either Seattle or Green Bay.