Let me get this straight.
New England hadn’t lost a home playoff game in 31 years — and in that time they were 11-0 in Foxborough.
Tom Brady was 8-0 at home in his post-season career.
Baltimore’s pedestrian 9-7 regular season mark this year included a dismal 3-5 away record.
So with all of that statistical data overloaded against Baltimore, it made perfect sense that the Ravens would race out to a 24-0 first quarter lead and cruise to a 33-14 win in New England today.
If you say so.
What a crazy league the NFL has become.
And what a crazy season it’s been for the Ravens, who literally entered the 4th quarter of their final regular season game in Oakland with their playoff berth still very much in jeopardy.
7 days later, they’ve polished off the mystique of the New England Patriots and they’re on their way to Indianapolis for a Saturday evening showdown with Peyton Manning and the Colts.
The New England fans hung around until there were about 9 minutes to go in the game.
They put in more of an effort than Randy Moss, that’s for sure.
So how did it happen today?
In a way only the dreamer could possibly imagine, the Ravens scored on their first play from scrimmage and then parlayed two first quarter turnovers into a 24-0 lead before half the crowd could say, “Want another cup of chow-dahh?”
And with their star quarterback obviously in need of a spark-plug change and Moss mailing it in like a member of the Postal Service, the Patriots were left with nothing to do except entertain an afternoon of boos from their faithful and wonder to themselves how on earth they picked today to have their worst game of the season.
As for the Ravens, they picked a great time to produce their best 30 minutes of defensive football all season, that’s for sure.
With Ray Lewis providing yet another epic post-season performance and Domonique Foxworth leading an opportunistic secondary, Baltimore clamped down early and often on both Brady and the running game en-route to a comfortable 24-7 halftime lead.
And when Willis McGahee scampered in with 10:32 to play to make it 33-14, the stands started to empty.
So it’s now on to Indianapolis, where the Ravens will undoubtedly have January 13, 2007 on their minds. Fresh off of a 13-3 regular season and a first-week playoff bye, Steve McNair had a game only Tom Brady could duplicate (today) and the Baltimore offense stalled in a 15-6 loss to Indy.
Next Saturday night in Indy, it’s payback time for Ray Lewis, Todd Heap, Ed Reed and the rest of the guys who were part of that disappointing home defeat.
It had to be this way, right?
Baltimore vs. Indianapolis.
Winner goes to the AFC Championship game.
Loser goes home.
One thing for sure: Tom Brady won’t be making a trip to South Florida in early February to gun for his 4th ring.
The Ravens made sure of that today in New England.
Now if they can send next week’s opposing quarterback home early, we might really be on to something.