The Patriots 35-31 win over the Baltimore Ravens was their most impressive of the season. Sure it wasn’t a blow out and they didn’t establish dominance, but New England did get punched in the mouth and fall down early all to overcome it and make their second straight appearance to the AFC Championship game. Most impressively was the job done on the coaching side of this matchup, especially by Josh McDaniels.
Who needs to win the battle on the offensive line when you have Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels? Now, generally I’m a bit tougher on McDaniels and his play calling, but in the second half of Saturday’s game, he called the plays based on what he had and that is an offensive line that can’t keep pace with Baltimore’s defensive line. Quick throws made up a majority of the offense and Baltimore had no answer. Trick plays to take advantage of the Ravens over-aggressive nature also helped.
There was a total of 7 called rushing plays. The Patriots coaching staff conceded that their offensive line wasn’t good enough, but it didn’t matter. The Patriots became very one dimensional on offense, but Tom Brady had a nearly perfect game (minus that dreadful interception) with three touchdowns and a rushing touchdown. The ‘new-look Patriots’ were supposed to be able to win on defense, but it was the same old story. The game came down to Brady and the offenses execution like it has the past 10 seasons.
In all the Patriots latest success, ‘The Hoodie’ as we know Belichick has sort of changed. He’s much more ‘The Hoodie’ of offensive game-planning and drafting. While the defense has ranked in the middle to end of the pack over the past ten seasons, Belichick and Brady rank among the top in offense every season with about the same amount of talent. Belichick is obviously a great defensive coach, but at this stage I might call him a better offensive coach.
I liked this win because the Ravens are a good team. They have a good coach and a good quarterback and they are strong at the point of attack. In a lot of ways, I think the two best teams in the AFC played each other on Saturday.
Looking ahead, the Ravens play football a lot like the Seahawks. New England will face the same struggles offensively, except Seattle can defend the pass much better than the Ravens can. The Patriots defense will have to be better if the day comes where it’s New England an Seattle in the Super Bowl or the game will be lost and shake the foundation of the Brady-Belichick legacy.
For now, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. The Patriots will have to set their sights on the Colts for an AFC Championship game that will be on Sunday at 6:30pm. The Colts are good enough to win so no one should take this game lightly and look past Indianapolis.