AFC East: Ravens-Patriots 011010

Did Seymour trade doom Patriots?

January, 12, 2010
How significant was the New England Patriots' surprising decision to trade defensive end Richard Seymour before the season?

AP Photo/Chitose SuzukiTedy Bruschi thinks if former teammate Richard Seymour was still in New England, the Patriots postseason outcome might have changed.
ESPN analyst and former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi thinks it might have made the difference between getting eliminated after one playoff game and still playing.

Bruschi sat down on the "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" to talk about Patriots coach Bill Belichick's controversial move.

"I really couldn't put any rhyme or reason to why he would do that," Brushi said. "Of course, yes, he got a 2011 first-round draft pick. But what I think that move did was sort of sacrifice the immediate success of the team to the future of the team."

The Patriots won the AFC East, but the Baltimore Ravens bounced them convincingly Sunday. The Ravens rushed for 234 yards.

"The constant double teams coming down on the defensive ends, Jarvis Green and Mike Wright, all the movement that they were getting, that's sort of where Seymour would have been," Bruschi said. "His presence might've made a difference.

"Within that game they actually moved Vince Wilfork from nose and over to the end position because they were having so many problems over there.

"Would those adjustments need to have been made is Seymour was there? These are the questions that are being pondered in New England right now."

Bruschi also talked about his former head coach, Pete Carroll, returning to the NFL (Bruschi is a big fan of Carroll's) and came close to predicting a New York Jets victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

"I believe in what the Jets are doing and how they're running the ball, how [offensive coordinator Brian] Schottenheimer has tempered down what they're asking of [Mark] Sanchez," Bruschi said.

"You've got respect a coaching staff that realizes 'This is who we are. These are strengths we have to play to.' "

In best QB debate, does Warner beat Brady?

January, 11, 2010
One of the great sports debates of this generation asks who is the greatest quarterback: Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.

Brady's atrocious four-giveaway performance in Saturday's playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens and Manning's fourth MVP award might temper the discussion for the time being. Brady still holds the edge with three Super Bowl rings, for those who consider that the most important stat.

But Football Outsiders broaches another either-or question that suggests a second quarterback be considered Brady's superior:

Kurt Warner.

You need to be an ESPN Insider to read Bill Barnwell's article that compares career playoff numbers for Brady and Warner and the results are pretty clear-cut.

Warner owns a better completion percentage, averages 2.1 yards more per attempt, has more touchdowns and has fewer interceptions.

Barnwell points out Brady's 14-4 postseason record is better than Warner's 9-3 and that Brady plays outdoors, while Warner spent most of his career under domes. Then again, Brady's reputation was cemented as a clutch quarterback for orchestrating late game-winning drives in Super Bowls that were played in domes.

Barnwell presents a reasoned analysis and comes away with this conclusion: "Kurt Warner has been the better playoff quarterback, and it's hard to see how there's a debate that doesn't involve mythology and the media."

Video: Patriots were catastrophic

January, 11, 2010
ESPN's Dana Jacobson talks with Mike Reiss from about what went wrong with the New England Patriots in Sunday's home playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

Video: Jets last AFC East team standing

January, 10, 2010

What a turn of events in the AFC East. The New York Jets barely slip into the playoffs yet advance to the second round with an impressive victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. The New England Patriots cruise to the division title and get bounced in the first round by a team they beat in Week 4.

What will happen with Wilfork?

January, 10, 2010
Perhaps the most significant offseason storyline for the New England Patriots will be Vince Wilfork's contract.

The big nose tackle is a free agent. The six-year contract he signed as a rookie is up. He has wanted a long-term deal for months and missed voluntary workouts last offseason to show his displeasure with the Patriots reluctance to give him one.

Wilfork allowed himself a moment to soak in what could have been his final moments as a Patriot as the outcome of Sunday's playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens became inevitable.

"As the time ticked off that clock, it kind of dawned on me," Wilfork said in Boston Globe reporter Albert Breer's postgame blog item. "I told my teammates, the guys I play with on that defense, 'I don't know if this is the last game I play with you or not, but if it is, man, I love you and I'm gonna miss you.' We'll go from here and see what happens."

Wilfork is the Patriots' best defender, the keystone of their 3-4 defense. He's one of the top handful of players at any position in the AFC East.

The Patriots could use the franchise tag on Wilfork, guaranteeing him an average salary of the NFL's five highest-paid nose tackles, but that's for one year only.

Wilfork said he would be upset if he were tagged. But he stressed he wanted to remain a Patriot if it can be worked out.

"I said that from day one, and I’m still backing up those words," Wilfork said. "If that wasn’t the case, I wouldn’t have been out there playing for this team this year. I could’ve easily been sitting out and wanting my money and trying to prove a point, but that’s not me. I said I’m loyal to my word, and I stuck by my word. I want to be a Patriot, but that’s not up to me."'s Mike Reiss wrote about Wilfork's feelings about a new contract and the possibility he'll wear another uniform in 2010.

"I want a long-term deal," Wilfork said. "That’s something me and my wife, we want. We're going to try to get a long-term deal done, that's first and foremost.

"This whole process I think was best for my family -- family first. We'll attack it with what is best for my family."

Video: Patriots' Brady on loss

January, 10, 2010

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady discusses what went wrong in Sunday's 33-14 loss to Baltimore.

Rapid Reaction: Ravens 33, Patriots 14

January, 10, 2010
The New England Patriots crashed hard Sunday.

The Baltimore Ravens went into Gillette Stadium and pounded the Patriots like Keith Moon used to treat his drum kit.

New England lost 33-14 and never really was in the game.

Baltimore made it look way too easy. Running back Ray Rice zipped 83 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage to trigger a 24-point first quarter.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was abysmal with four giveaways. The NFL's Comeback Player of the Year was 23-of-42 for 154 yards and two touchdowns. He threw three interceptions and lost a fumble on one of three sacks.

Hard to say how much of a difference a healthy Wes Welker would have made. Welker is Brady's compass, but the slot receiver couldn't help from his seat in owner Robert Kraft's suite, a pair of crutches nearby.

Maybe Brady feels little more comfortable and doesn't press so much with Welker on the field. But the Ravens were so thoroughly dominant, it's difficult to dispute the result would've been different.

Welker's slot replacement, rookie Julian Edelman, had six receptions for 44 yards and two touchdowns. But Randy Moss was a non-factor with five catches for 48 yards. New England tight ends Benjamin Watson and Chris Baker combined for two catches for 5 yards.

The Patriots had fewer yards, fewer first downs, more turnovers, more penalties and a shorter time of possession.

The Ravens passed for only 34 yards, but they still held the edge in total yards because they rushed for 234. Rice had 159 and two touchdowns. Willis McGahee ran for 62 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots rushed for 64 as a team.

A first-half beatdown by the numbers

January, 10, 2010
The early beatdown the Baltimore Ravens have administered to the New England Patriots was epic.

The Ravens posted the first four scores, taking a 24-0 lead before the end of the first quarter. The Patriots managed to get into the end zone and trail by 17 points at halftime. Did I mention this game is taking place in Gillette Stadium?

ESPN Stats & Information broke out a few numbers to put this game in perspective.

  • The last time the Patriots were down by at least 24 points at the end of a first quarter was November 1979 against the Denver Broncos.
  • A Bill Belichick-coached team never has allowed 24 points in the first quarter, regular-season or playoffs.
  • The Patriots haven't allowed more than 20 points in a home playoff game since 1978, when the Houston Oilers beat them 31-14.
  • The Patriots were 8-0 at home this year. The most points they allowed in a game was 24 to the Buffalo Bills back on opening night.
  • The last team to lead 24-0 after one quarter of a playoff game? The 1999 Jacksonville Jaguars led the Miami Dolphins 24-0 and cruised to a 62-7 victory.
  • Something to consider: The worst home playoff loss in NFL history was 34 points, when the Minnesota Vikings beat the New Orleans Saints in 1987. Twenty-four points would be tied for eighth.
  • If the Patriots were to win, overcoming a 24-point deficit would tie the second-largest margin in postseason history. The Bills hold the record with a 32-point rally to beat the Oilers in 1992.

Patriots imploding at home

January, 10, 2010
ESPN Stats & Information scurried through the box scores to learn the last time the New England Patriots have allowed the first two scores of a game was October 2008.

Researchers are digging to find out the last time the Patriots surrendered the first four.

The Gillette Stadium crowd is booing the Patriots, who are losing 24-0 to the Baltimore Ravens with time left in the first quarter.

The Patriots hadn't allowed 20 or more points in a home playoff game -- that's an entire game -- since 1978.


Ray Rice ripped off an 83-yard run on the first play from scrimmage, and Gillette Stadium has been stunned silent ever since.

After three possessions, Tom Brady has completed two of his six attempts 3 yards. He has lost a fumble and thrown two interceptions.

The book on Ravens-Pats ref Steratore

January, 10, 2010
The NFL assigned referee Gene Steratore to Sunday's playoff game between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium.

A few notes about Steratore and his crew from the 2009 regular season:

  • Their 176 penalties tied for the second-fewest among all 17 NFL crews.
  • Don't expect many yellow flags late in the game. Steratore and his men called an NFL-low 37 penalties in the fourth quarter, and one in overtime.
  • Much has been made about Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis' criticism of NFL officials for treating Patriots quarterback Tom Brady like a porcelain doll in Week 4. Steratore detected roughing the passer just three times this year, tied for third-fewest.
  • They called defensive pass interference only nine times (tied for third fewest) and offensive pass interference four times.
  • Defenses shouldn't get too grabby. Steratore's crew called nine defensive holding penalties, in the upper third.
  • The only calls that Steratore's crew called into the double digits were offensive holding (34), false start (31) and defensive offside (13).

Your Ravens-Pats primer

January, 10, 2010
CINCINNATI -- You'll notice that the word in all caps to the left doesn't look anything like FOXBOROUGH, Mass.

That means I'm not in Gillette Stadium for Sunday's playoff game between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots. I was on the scene for the New York Jets' first-round victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

We'll see if the AFC East can go 2-0.

I'll be filing dispatches from my hotel on the bank of the Ohio River. But ESPN has a team of reporters in Gillette Stadium. Of course, you need monitor the updates and observations Mike Reiss and Chris Forsberg will be posting at Senior writer Len Pasquarelli will be writing on the Ravens-Patriots, too.

Also, and perhaps most importantly, you can join our live in-game chat. I will join Reiss, Forsberg and Scouts Inc. analyst Jeremy Green.

Here are the inactives from Foxborough, dispatched via Cincinnati:

Baltimore Ravens

New England Patriots

Video: Ravens-Patriots preview

January, 10, 2010

ESPN reporter Sal Paolantonio provides a preview of Sunday's playoff tilt between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots from frigid Gillette Stadium.

Video: Moss should be good to go

January, 9, 2010
ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell examines the biggest injuries involving this weekend's playoff teams. She explains why she thinks New England Patriots receiver Randy Moss will play.

Final Word: Ravens-Patriots

January, 8, 2010
AFC: Ravens-Patriots: Graham | Walker Jets-Bengals: Graham | Walker
NFC: Cowboys-Eagles: Mosley Packers-Cardinals: Sando | Seifert

Three nuggets of knowledge about Sunday's Ravens-Patriots wild-card playoff game:

Julian Edelman will do enough to help the Patriots cope with Wes Welker's injury. I'm not going to debate analysts who've played the game about Welker's importance to the Patriots' offense. I selected him as my AFC East MVP. But I do believe too much is being made about his telepathy with Tom Brady. Yes, there will be a dropoff in chemistry from Welker to rookie Julian Edelman. A few more balls will hit the turf. But Edelman did manage to catch 10 of the 15 passes thrown his way Sunday. He's OK.

David Butler II-US PRESSWIREPatriots linebacker Jerod Mayo didn't play in Week 4 against the Ravens but will be patrolling the middle Sunday afternoon.

When remembering the Week 4 matchup, consider that Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo didn't play. The Ravens outgained Patriots 363-319. Ravens running back Ray Rice carried 11 times for 103 yards. You would expect those numbers to go down with Mayo on patrol in the middle of the defense. Last year's defensive rookie of the year suffered a knee injury on opening night and wasn't able to play in their first meeting.

Patriot tights ends are an X factor. Benjamin Watson and Chris Baker haven't contributed much to the box score all season. Then again, with a players such as Welker and Randy Moss in the lineup, there aren't a lot of passes to distribute around. In the three games Welker was unavailable (counting Sunday, when he went down in the first quarter), Watson and Baker combined for 11 of their 43 receptions and for 134 of their 518 yards. Calculate that pace over a full season, and Patriots tight ends grab a much more palatable 59 catches for 715 yards this year.

Video: AccuScore likes Pats over Ravens

January, 8, 2010
Jenny Dell from "Countdown Daily" presents the AccuScore report for Sunday's playoff game between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium. Through 10,000 simulations, the Patriots won 54 percent of the time.