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Monday, January 23, 2012
Patriots Edge Ravens in AFC Title Game: Missed Opportunity for the Ravens
Sunday's AFC Final between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots, playing for the Lamar Hunt Trophy. And to be AFC Champions, as well as of course going to the Super Bowl. Had basically everything you want in a Conference Final. Except if your a Ravens fans which I'll get to later. The weather was beautiful, especially for Massachusetts in January. The game was well played on both sides, it was close, either team could've won. the teams were evenly matched. Both teams had opportunities to win the game, it was what a Conference Final is suppose to be. Especially when you have the two best teams in the Conference playing each other. And the momentum of the game switched as well, making it a little hard to get a good feel for the game. It looked like a defensive struggle early, 3-0 Patriots early in the 2nd Quarter. The Ravens going three and out on their first three possessions and then it became sort of a shootout in the 2nd Quarter. With a 13-10 Halftime Lead for the Patriots, the Ravens taking the lead late in the 3rd Quarter 20-16. Neither team could really stop the other in the 2nd Half, it was looking like the last team with the ball. Was going to win, sorta like a Wild West Shootout, with the last bullet wining the fight. And the Ravens had the ball last with an opportunity to win the game but didn't come through. Neither team really stopped the other, except for takeaways and trying to hold the other to a Field Goal.
The Patriots take the lead with about seven minutes or so left in the 4th Quarter, Ravens turn the ball over on the next possession. The Patriots give it right back with a great interception and return. They move the ball down to like the Patriots 35, with 4th and 6, pass up on a Field Goal Attempt. Looking back at that now, great decision by Head Coach John Harbaugh. The Patriots stop them there with about three minutes left. The Ravens stop the Patriots with about a 1:30 left in the game and get the ball back at their 20. Needing a Field Goal to tie, a Touchdown to win. Drive the ball down to the Patriots 20 yard line, get stopped on three plays. One of those plays was a pass to the End Zone, that was dropped by WR Lee Evans. No secret now why he only had four receptions in the Regular Season, not to be harsh but just a fact. What I like about this drive, at least until the 4th Down Field Goal attempt, Head Coach Harabugh was going for the win. Not playing for a Field Goal, running out the clock and playing for Overtime. But this is what I didn't like, 4th and 1 with about 30 seconds left, they settle for a Field Goal attempt. Putting their whole season on the line. Instead of going for the win with their best players.
Former Oakland Raiders Head Coach John Madden once said and you can look this up on YouTube or NFL Films. That instead of putting the game on the line with your Kicker and you have a chance to win the game. Why not keep the ball in the hands of your offense and go for the win instead. Which is what he did against the Baltimore Colts in a 1977 Divisional Playoff game and won. I can understand kicking the Field Goal if its 4th and 5 or even 2. But it was 4th and 1, the Ravens already had an opportunity to win the game with a dropped TD Pass. Why not QB Sneak it or throw a short pass, spike the ball or call Time Out. And then take at least one shot at the End Zone and win the game. I realize it would've been a very gutsy play but when you have an opportunity to win the game. Take it, your not guaranteed of winning the game in Overtime. Or even making the short kick as Billy Cundiff proved Sunday.