Back and forth they went, quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Tom Brady dueled Saturday night.
The Ravens had two different 14-point leads in Foxborough – one at the start of the game and one in the third quarter.
Brady and the Patriots overcame both, coming from behind to knock the resilient Ravens out of the playoffs in the divisional round, 35-31.
"He's a pretty good quarterback," said outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who has a longstanding rivalry with Brady. "He sat in there and made the plays they needed him to make."
The Ravens had the ball last with a chance to win with five minutes, eight seconds left. Owner of 19 career fourth-quarter game-winning drives, Flacco drove them down the field, including hitting tight end Owen Daniels for a 17-yard catch and run on fourth-and-3.
Flacco had the ball at New England's 36-yard line when he lofted a deep pass intended for wide receiver Torrey Smith, which was intercepted by Patriots safety Duron Harmon in the end zone.
"We were on a good matchup, even though they were cheating to his side a little bit," Flacco said. "I took my shot. It just didn't work out."
Baltimore's magical season and playoff run came to an end, but what a run it was.
"I'm very proud of our guys," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "Not just in this game, but I think in this season, you saw the same thing our guys have been doing all year as far as overcoming adversity."
Quote Of The Day
"You learn more in failure than you ever do in success. Right now we're already processing how we can get better. I won't feel like this next year." – OLB Terrell Suggs
Turning Point Of The Game
Harmon intercepted Flacco's pass in the end zone, essentially sealing the game with one minute, 39 seconds remaining. Smith got behind his cornerback,but Harmon, who was alone in deep coverage, came over the top to make the play.
- Flacco came out of the gates slinging the ball downfield. Baltimore hadn't scored points on its opening drive since Week 13 against San Diego. Flacco was a perfect 4-for-4 on the drive for 69 yards, capped by a 19-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kamar Aiken.
- Wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. beat cornerback Darrelle Revis with an inside slant and hung onto a second Flacco touchdown pass to put the Ravens up, 14-0, after just two drives. The Ravens marched 11 plays for their second score. Smith Sr. bobbled the pass at first, but hauled it in as he fell to the turf. Flacco was 9-for-10 for 109 yards and two touchdowns in the first two drives.
- The Patriots answered with big tight end Rob Gronkowski, who caught a 16-yard pass to convert on third down, followed by a 46-yard pass down the middle when he was wide open. New England got on the board when Tom Brady ran left against an overload blitz from the right for a 4-yard touchdown. It halted Baltimore's wave of momentum, making the score 14-7.
- Safety Matt Elam missed a tackle on Danny Amendola in the flats, allowing the Patriots wide receiver to leap into the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown.
- With the Patriots holding all the momentum and threatening to take a lead before halftime, linebacker Daryl Smith intercepted a Brady pass over the middle intended for Gronkowski.
- Tight end Owen Daniels made a difficult leaping 11-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone with 10 seconds left in the half, despite having three Patriots right around him. Baltimore stole a 21-14 halftime lead.
- Facing fourth-and-6 from the New England 36-yard line, the Ravens went for a deep shot to wide receiver Torrey Smith. Smith fended off cornerback Brandon Browner and hauled in the pass 1-yard short of the end zone. It was moved back 16 yards because of a Smith taunting penalty, but running back Justin Forsett scored on a 16-yard catch and run on the next play, putting the Ravens up, 28-14.
- The Patriots used an atypical ineligible receiver formation three times to march down the field and respond to Baltimore's 14-point lead. Harbaugh got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, helping put New England in position for a 5-yard touchdown, cutting the Ravens' lead to 28-21.
- New England broke out more trickery on its next drive as they threw a backwards pass to wide receiver Julian Edelman, who had Amendola wide open down the field for a 51-yard touchdown that tied the game, 28-28. It was the first pass Edelman has ever thrown as a Patriot. Ravens cornerback Rashaan Melvin let Amendola get open.
- Flacco was intercepted on his first pass of the next drive as he targeted Torrey Smith. Safety Devin McCourtey came over the top to make the play, ending a streak of 197 straight playoff passes without an interception. The defense came up with a huge three-and-out, however, to negate the damage.
- A holding call against Revis negated a fumble by Flacco that was recovered on the Ravens' 1-yard line. The drive was once again extended when the Ravens hit fullback Kyle Juszczyk on fourth-and-1. Daniels dropped a potential touchdown pass, however, and the Ravens had to settle for a 25-yard field goal to take a 31-28 lead. It capped a whopping 16-play drive.
- Daryl Smith came up with a fumble recovery near midfield midway through the fourth quarter, but the play was reversed when it was determined that running back Shane Vereen's knee was down just before the ball came out. Brady moved the Patriots further down the field for the game-winning 23-yard touchdown to wide receiver Brandon LaFell, who got behind Melvin.
QB Joe FlaccoFlacco finished 28-for-45 for 292 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Flacco was on fire in the first half, piling up 146 passing yards on 17 of 22 completions and three touchdowns. Flacco's two interceptions in the second half were costly, however.
QB Tom Brady
Brady broke the NFL's postseason touchdown record Hall of Famer Joe Montana with the game-winning touchdown pass, the 46th of his career. It was a perfectly thrown 23-yard touchdown to LaFell. Brady finished with 367 passing yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
What This Means
The Ravens overcame many obstacles this season, showing a perseverance Harbaugh and others reflected on after the loss. Harbaugh spoke to the team about its resolve in the locker room after the game. The Ravens had off-field incidents, finished with 19 players on injured reserve, yet they still reached the playoffs, and won a game, for the sixth time in the past seven years.
Now the Ravens will head into an offseason in which they have several key free agents, such as wide receiver Torrey Smith, running back Justin Forsett, kicker Justin Tucker and outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, among others, to negotiate with. It's also unknown whether Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak will pursue a head coaching job.
Stat Of The GameThis was an offensive shootout. The Ravens piled up 428 total yards while the Patriots put up 422. The Ravens, however, were 1-of-9 on third down.
Check out all the best photos from Gillette Stadium as the Ravens battle the Patriots in the Divisional round of the NFL Playoffs.