The New England Patriots, written off by the pundits and talking heads prior to their match-up versus the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, responded to their critics with a physical victory over the defending Super Bowl Champions. After falling to the Ravens last January in the AFC Championship Game the Patriots brought a physicality not seen regularly since their Super Bowl teams of a decade ago in pounding the Ravens on Sunday. Behind a physical defense, a strong offense going head-to-head with a solid Baltimore defense, and a handful of big plays the Patriots staked claim as a team capable of surviving and thriving in January.
The Patriots were able to defeat Baltimore with balanced play on both sides of the ball. On offense, the offensive line was able to shuffle key players to hold-up against the fearsome Baltimore pass rush and create space for the three-headed rushing attack. On defense, the Patriots secondary shook off injuries to make big play after big play and keep the Ravens from crawling back into striking distance. These three keys were vital in New England defeating Baltimore 41-7 on Sunday.
The New England Patriots secondary held Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco was held to 260 yards passing and threw two interceptions. Most impressive was that the secondary was still undermanned and able to keep the Ravens passing offense–especially their downfield weapons–in check. Per ProFootballFocus.com, Flacco was 0-6 with an interception–and a dropped interception by safety Devin McCourty–on passes more than 20 yards downfield.
Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was not healthy and only played when injuries forced him in the game. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia finally wised-up and left cornerback Kyle Arrington inside on the slot a majority of the game while having rookie Logan Ryan on the corner opposite Aqib Talib. With Arrington playing at his more comfortable spot inside, he appeared much more comfortable. Arrington also had a sack of Flacco on a key third down coming off the edge on a cornerback blitz to stall a second quarter drive and force a punt.
Cornerback Aqib Talib struggled in coverage, but nothing like he did with Josh Gordon in Cleveland three weeks ago. After starting the season with a number of impressive performances, Talib has struggled since his hip injury in week six. For the second straight week, Talib was able to adapt his coverage skills with his obviously still injured hip and keep his receiver in front of him. After four straight games allowing opposing quarterbacks to a QB rating over 100 against him in coverage, Talib has been much improved over the last two weeks...click here ofr more: http://www.h4-entertainment.com/2013/12/new-england-patriots-three-keys-to-playoffs-success-evident-in-win-vs-baltimore/