The 2009 season was an up-and-down campaign for the Ravens. There was a three-game winning streak. There was three-game losing streak. There was a six-game stretch where they alternated wins and losses each week. There was also a loss at New England thrown into the mix.
Despite the roller coaster ride during the regular season, Baltimore showed their resiliency throughout and earned a playoff spot with a 9-7 record. Their reward? A trip to Foxborough and a clash with the AFC East Champion Patriots. Like the AFC championship game Sunday, the Ravens were big underdogs.
The Patriots were a formidable foe. Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Randy Moss and a strong offensive line still provided plenty of fireworks. They were two years removed from a season where they set the NFL record for points and compiled a 16-0 regular season record. Tom Brady had never lost a postseason game at home. Most members of the media had already put New England in the divisional round.
What happened that day in New England was stunning. The Ravens received the opening kick, and before the fans were even in their seat, Ray Rice took a handoff on the first play from scrimmage and raced 83 yards for a touchdown. Three plays later, Terrell Suggs forced a sack-fumble on Brady and recovered it. The Ravens punched it in on that drive, too. A few series later, cornerback Chris Carr picked off Brady, and Rice would add another touchdown on the subsequent drive. Ed Reed intercepted Brady on New England's next possession. Before the first quarter ended – and seemingly before anybody in New England could blink – the score was 24-0.
From there, Baltimore continued to pound the run on their way to a 33-14 victory. The energy was taken out of Gillette Stadium early, and New England never got their momentum back. The Ravens had pulled off the win when few people gave them a chance.
Stat of the game
Slowing down Tom Brady is no easy task. However, Brady's stat line was 23 of 42 for 154 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions, three sacks, a fumble and a quarterback rating of 49.1.
Player of the game
Ravens running back Ray Rice. He set the tone for the day with his opening-play 83-yard touchdown. From there on, Rice continued to wear down New England's defense. His 159 rushing yards came on 22 attempts for an average of 7.2 yards per carry and two touchdowns.
Play of the game
The play of the game came before anybody really even got settled into the action. Rice took the handoff up the middle on the opening play of the game, avoided a defender and headed down the left sideline for the score. The New England crowd was stunned.
Quote of the week
Ravens QB Joe Flacco on if he feels confident in the fact that he can hand off to any one of the three running backs (Rice, Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain) and get results:"Yeah, I think anytime you have guys that are able to do the job no matter when you put them in there, it gives you a lot of confidence as an offense. The biggest thing for us is that it's going to keep everybody healthy. If you can give each guy a little bit of the load, then the better chances you have of keeping everybody healthy and lasting throughout the playoffs."
What it meant
A win in New England meant Baltimore was on to play top-seeded Indianapolis in the divisional round. It was also the third road playoff victory for head coach John Harbaugh in his two seasons on the job. Facing Peyton Manning and the high-powered Colts the next week, the Ravens were stopped in their quest for the Super Bowl, 20-3. "I think he can run with pretty much anybody," outside linebacker Paul Kruger added. "And if anybody gets caught slipping, he's going to blow them up. He's a talented guy and I think we have a big advantage with him."