Drew pretty much stole my thunder on this subject earlier today, but I’m going to espouse my opinion anyway. In order for the Ravens to defeat the Patriots on Sunday and advance to the Divisional Playoff round, they have to play, for all intents and purposes, a perfect game.
When you have a deck that that’s stacked against you…a very heavy home-field advantage, refs and a league that protect one of their golden boys like he’s made of platinum and glass, there is no room for error. By that I mean, everyone playing to the level that they’re capable of playing (no “off-games” allowed anymore, guys)..and perhaps more importantly, no dumb mistakes. No goofy laterals from Ed Reed, no footballs bouncing off helmets from Derrick Mason, no bush-league late hits from Haloti Ngata, no blocks in the back during a crucial runback..I think that you get the idea. I’m also, quite honestly, terrified at the idea of the game going down to the wire with the whole season riding on Billy Cundiff’s kicking foot. I will admit that he’s an upgrade over the departed Steve Hauschka, but he’s still nowhere near the caliber of kicker that the other playoff-caliber teams have.
I don’t want to be considered all doom and gloom on this, and no one will be screaming louder than me for the Ravens to knock that sickening smirk off of Belichick’s face, but considering the purple’s ability all year long to make the worst possible mistake at the worst possible time, you can’t help but wonder if they can overcome all of that on top of playing in the frigid tundra in Foxboro.
I sure hope that I’m wrong on this. Please, Ravens, make me eat my words.