Game Preview: Confident Ravens Face Vengeful Pats

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Depending on who you ask, revenge either plays a part in Sunday's game in Foxborough or it doesn't.

But there's one feeling that permeates the Ravens' locker room.

Nine months after blowing out the Patriots, 33-14, in the Wild Card playoffs, Sunday's rematch pits the emboldened Ravens against a Patriots team trying to regain its upperhand.

"For a while they were just dominating the league," Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. "It took a while for teams to know how to beat them. Now we know and hopefully we can do it again."

Heading into last year's playoff game, the Ravens had never defeated the Patriots – not at home, not on the road. Adding to the odds against Baltimore was that New England had never lost at home in the playoffs since 1978.

That all went out the window as fast as Ray Rice scampered 83 yards for a touchdown on the game's first play from scrimmage. It was hammered home by 234 total Ravens rushing yards.

Rice's game-changing run is a play that Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo and nose tackle Vince Wilfork said they've seen replayed plenty of times during the offseason and the past two weeks.

But Wilfork downplayed the significance of revenge, saying last year was last year.

The Ravens aren't buying it.

"I think it has to be in the back of their head," Rice said. "Obviously, because what we did last year was uncommon for that kind of team. We went up there; we dominated them."

"Any time you play a playoff game at home and you lose a playoff game at home, that's going to leave a sour taste in their mouth," linebacker Terrell Suggs added. "I'm sure when they saw they had us on the schedule, they saw red. They're going to come at us, but we expect nothing less, especially from the New England Patriots."

The last person one would expect to fan the flames of a grudge match, stoic Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, said "the game sticks with all of us."

"[But] it's a new season, new game," he added. "We'll see how this one comes out."

What hasn't been forgotten by the Ravens is that the Patriots are still a strong team with a 3-1 record.

While New England is ranked 11th in the NFL in yards per game, they are the top scoring unit in the league. The Patriots' defense ranks 29th in the NFL, but has eight turnovers. A solid special teams unit took over in a rout of the Dolphins in New England's most recent game.

At the end of the day, Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson had one of the better perspectives on the matchup.

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"[Last year's game is] not going to help us anymore in this game," Johnson said. "But it might give you more confidence because you've already achieved it."

THREE THINGS FOR A RAVENS WIN
Wrap Up In Coverage: No disrespect to Patriots wideout Brandon Tate, but he's not Randy Moss. Without as much of a deep threat, New England will likely attack with short and intermediate routes, which Baltimore must hold to short gains. Much of the responsibility will fall on Baltimore's linebackers in coverage.

No Turnovers:The Patriots have a young defense that has surrendered plenty of yards this season. But New England has made up for it by creating turnovers (+4 ratio). Baltimore's only loss came when Joe Flacco threw four interceptions, so if he and the rest of the offense can take care of the ball, they should be able to put up some points.
Run That Clock: The more the Ravens can keep the ball out of Tom Brady's hand, the better off they'll be. It was a sound formula last week, as Baltimore dominated possession (36:17 to 23:43) to limit top passer Kyle Orton.  Baltimore's ground game is starting to get in gear and the Patriots are 20th in the league in rush defense. Letting Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain pound the rock could pay off.

Ravens                          Category                           Patriots

4-1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2010 Record . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3-1

Won 3. . . . . . . . . . . . Current Streak . . . . . . . . . . . .Won 2

  1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Points Scored . . . . . . . . . . . . .131
  1. . . . . . . . . . . . Touchdowns Scored . . . . . . . . . . .17
  1. . . . . . . . Rushing Touchdowns Scored . . . . . . . .3
  1. . . . . . . . Passing Touchdowns Scored . . . . . . . .9
  1. . . . . . . . . . Touchdowns on Returns . . . . . . . . . .5

72 . . . . . . . . . . . . Points Against . . . . . . . . . . . . .96

  1. . . . . . . . . . . Touchdowns Allowed . . . . . . . . . . .11
  1. . . . . . . . Rushing Touchdowns Allowed . . . . . . . .1
  1. . . . . . . . Passing Touchdowns Allowed . . . . . . . .9
  1. . . . . . . . . . . TDs Allowed by Return . . . . . . . . . . .1

32:14. . . . . . . . . . . Time of Posession Avg.. . . . . . . . . . .28:53

-6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Turnover Ratio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .+4

57.1%. . . . . . . . . Red Zone TD Pct. For . . . . . . . . .60.0%

33.3%. . . . . . . . Red Zone TD Pct. Against . . . . . . .70.0%

21.4. . . . . . . . . . . . . KOR Avg. For . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.6

28.3. . . . . . . . . . . . KOR Avg. Against . . . . . . . . . . .26.4

6.1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PR Avg. For . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.5

8.0. . . . . . . . . . . . . PR Avg. Against . . . . . . . . . . . .6.1

Ravens

Patriots

Category

Stats

Rank

Stats

Rank

Total Offense

328.2

19

344.3

11

Rush Offense

114

14

122.3

13

Pass Offense

214.2

18

222

15

Points/Game

45.7

22(t)

32.8

1

Total Defense

257.8

3

384.5

29

Rush Defense

101.2

10

112.3

20

Pass Defense

156.6

2

272.3

28

Points/Game

14.4

4

24

26

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