Downfall of the Dynasty
January 11, 2010
by Jodie Cutter
check out the End Zone Militia Report by clicking below in the Archives.
This will be the first in a series of columns addressing the game, the season, and where the Patriots go from here.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady sits on the turf after being knocked down in the first quarter of a game that was over 17 seconds after it began. The Baltimore Ravens defeated New England 33-14 in the first round of the playoffs yesterday, handing the Patriots their first home postseason loss in over 30 years. Photo courtesy Baltimore Sun.
“Their era is not over, they know how to win, but for the Ravens, to beat the New England Patriots set a precedent. We'll always remember this win."
Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens running back
“Whatever it was, it wasn’t nearly as good as whatever they were doing. We just didn’t play very well.”
Bill Belichick, postgame press conference
“And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted — nevermore!"
From “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe, 1845
“We just didn’t come to play. We never had a chance, from the first play to the last play.”
Vince Wilfork, Patriots nose tackle, postgame press conference
"Playing the way we played, we're not going to beat anybody."
Tom Brady, postgame press conference
Ravens running back Ray Rice (#27) celebrates with wide receiver Derrick Mason (#85) after Rice's 83-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Rice ran for a total of 159 yards and two touchdowns. Photo courtesy AP.
Like Moses parting the Red Sea, the Baltimore Ravens offensive line opened a huge chasm through which Ray Rice burst on the first play from scrimmage. Rice’s 83-yard touchdown run 17 seconds into the game set the tone for the day, and the Ravens never looked back. In fact, bolstered by the Patriots’ inability to stop the run, the Ravens called running play after running play, for a total of 52 rushing plays for 234 net yards. With less than one minute remaining in the third quarter, the Ravens had already scored 27 points, and Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had just two completions for nine yards. Flacco’s four completions for a total of 34 yards were only one more than the number of interceptions Brady threw. Not surprisingly, Flacco wasn’t sacked at all. Despite the Patriots’ reputation for a lackluster pass rush, the Ravens didn’t even try to throw the ball. The victorious team's quarterback in this game had a passer rating of 10 ( that's "TEN").
In contrast, rather than going back to basics and employing the strategy that has won them the game every time they've utilized it this season – running the ball more than passing it -the Patriots reverted to relying on Tom Brady’s arm and threw the ball more than twice as much as they ran it (42 pass attempts vs. 18 rushes). It wasn’t as if the Patriots didn’t have opportunities on offense. They possessed the ball for 27:39. But Tom Brady completed just 55% of his passes, a number that might have been workable were it not for his three interceptions and one lost fumble. In fact, before the first quarter was even over, Tom Brady had turned the ball over three times, handing the Ravens 17 points. The other possession in the first quarter, sandwiched between the fumble and one of the interceptions, was a three-and-out.
Brady’s uncharacteristic turnovers led to his worst ever quarterback rating in the playoffs. Here is a look at his other less memorable games to see how they compare:
The most lamentable thing about this loss is that it spoils the memory of what was otherwise an admirable, albeit not stellar, season. The Patriots did win the division. It wasn’t Brady's best season, but coming into this game, it was actually his second best, statistically, after the 2007 season. Yet, all people will remember will be how poorly Tom Brady played in the 2009 Playoffs, not that he had been named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year less than a week before. Back in September, all of the talk was on Tom Brady's knee. Here in January, Tom Brady's knee injury was a distant memory that seemed to have no bearing on the inexplicably mistake-prone performance that Brady turned in yesterday. For a quarterback who has led the team through so much over the past decade, it was an especially disappointing defeat which will sting as much if not more in the long off-season than Brady's last postseason loss did.
The first of Brady's four turnovers occurred on only the Patriots' third snap of the game, as Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs (#55) strips the ball from an unsuspecting Brady. Photo courtesy Baltimore Sun.
The Ravens pressured Tom Brady all afternoon. Here, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis executes a sack. Photo courtesy Getty Images.
Ravens running back Ray Rice does a little end zone dance after his second touchdown run in the first quarter. Photo courtesy Getty Images.
This play, in which Ravens safety Ed Reed (#20) intercepted a pass intended for Patriots wide receiver Sam Aiken (#88, sitting on the turf), was exemplary of the way the Ravens defense played all day. Photo courtesy Baltimore Sun.
Despite what should have been an ill-advised backwards (lateral) pass by Reed after the interception, Ravens safety Dawan Landry (#26) caught the ball and ran it all the way back to the nine-yard line. Baltimore Sun photo.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman (#11) was one of the few players who showed up yesterday, turning in a gutsy, tenacious performance. Edelman caught six passes for 44 yards, including the Patriots' only two touchdowns, and also had an impressive 28 yard punt return. Baltimore Sun photo.
The ever-reliable Kevin Faulk (#33) showed up for the game as well, gaining 52 yards on 14 carries. Baltimore Sun photo.
Ravens safety Dawan Landry, back, knocks away a pass intended for New England Patriots tight end Ben Watson (#84). The two tight ends, Ben Watson and Chris Baker, combined for just two receptions for a total of five yards. Baltimore Sun photo.
Tom Brady congratulates Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco on leading his team to the second round of the playoffs. Baltimore Sun photo.