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Recapping Rashaan Melvin's rough game

1/12/2015

One of the reasons why the New England Patriots are so successful is their ability to tailor the game plan to attack a team's weakness.

The Patriots went with a power formation all game and ran on the Indianapolis Colts. They then went empty backfield and threw on the Detroit Lions.

And, in Saturday's AFC divisional playoff game, the Patriots went after Baltimore Ravens cornerback Rashaan Melvin again and again.

Melvin allowed 12 catches on 15 passes thrown his way (80 percent), giving up 224 yards and two touchdowns, according to Pro Football Focus. That represented 55 percent of the Patriots' passing yards.

It was a horrible way to end what had been an impressive season-ending run for Melvin.

"You live and you learn," Melvin said. "You go out there and you give all you got. You win some and you lose some."

There is a reason why Melvin had a bulls-eye squarely on him. This was only the fifth career game for Melvin, who hadn't suited up for a regular-season contest before Dec. 14.

Before being signed by the Ravens, Melvin had been on two practice squads this season and was out of football for five weeks. The Ravens went with Melvin after Jimmy Smith, Danny Gorrer and Asa Jackson suffered season-ending injuries, and Dominique Franks and Chykie Brown were ineffective.

Melvin had raised expectations for himself by the way he had played for the Ravens. In his previous four games, he had given up 10 receptions on 22 passes thrown at him (45 percent) for 106 yards and no touchdowns. Tom Brady and the Patriots more than doubled that total. The Patriots had a passer rating of 150.9 when throwing at Melvin. The other four quarterbacks only posted a 60.0 rating against Melvin.

Melvin's two biggest mistakes were allowing the game-tying and winning touchdowns in the second half.

In the third quarter, Melvin anticipated a bubble screen when Brady lateraled a pass to wide receiver Julian Edelman, so he started to go toward Edelman. That allowed wide receiver Danny Amendola to get behind Melvin and catch a 51-yard touchdown that tied the game at 28.

"You get caught in situations like that sometimes, and you make sure it doesn't happen again," Melvin said. "You should be aware of everything that is going on. That was a good call on them, and it worked to their success."

In the fourth quarter, Melvin ran stride for stride with wide receiver Brandon LaFell, but failed to turn around to make a play on the ball. LaFell pulled in the 23-yard touchdown that gave the Patriots their first lead of the game.

"I'm going to learn from it and get better," Melvin said. "I can't wait for next season and be the greatest player I can be."

Melvin, 25, is an exclusive rights free agent, which means the Ravens can keep him by tendering him a contract. He will likely battle for a backup job on the team in 2015.