AFC Championship: Ravens @ Patriots Preview

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP

SUNDAY, JANUARY 22

BALTIMORE RAVENS-AFC NORTH (13-4) AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS-AFC EAST (14-3)

SERIES

RAVENS

PATRIOTS

LEADER (REG. SEASON)

6-0

STREAKS (REG. SEASON)

6-0

COACHES VS. OPP.

(REG. & POSTSEASON)

Harbaugh: 1-2

Belichick: 4-1

COACHES PLAYOFF RECORD

5-3

16-6

VS. COMMON OPP.

(REG. SEASON)

Bal.: 4-1 (Ind. 1-0; NYJ 1-0; Pit. 2-0; SD 0-1)

NE: 4-1 (Ind. 1-0; NYJ 2-0; Pit. 0-1; SD 1-0)

PLAYOFF RECORD

10-6

22-15

LAST WEEK

W 20-13 vs. Texans

W 45-10 vs. Broncos

LAST GAME (REG. SEASON)

10/17/10: Ravens 20 at Patriots 23 (OT).New England overcomes 10-point 4th-quarter deficit to force OT, where K Stephen Gostkowski kicks game-winning 35-yard FG.

LAST GAME AT SITE

(REG. SEASON)

10/17/10

LAST PLAYOFF

1/10/10: Ravens 33 at Patriots 14. Baltimore RB Ray Rice rushes for 159 yards & 2 TDs (83, 1) as Ravens race to 24-0 1st-quarter lead en route to Wild Card victory.

BROADCAST

CBS (3:00 PM ET): Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Steve Tasker (Field reporter). Westwood One Radio: Dave Sims, James Lofton, Tony Boselli (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 92 (Bal.), 86 (NE). XM: 88 (WW1), 225 (Bal.), 226 (NE).

STAT LEADERS

PASSING

Flacco: 312-542-3,610-20-12-80.9

Brady: 401-611-5,235 (1C)-39 (1C)-12-105.6 (1C)

RUSHING

Rice: 291-1,364 (2L)-4.7-12 (1C)

Green-Ellis: 181-667-3.7-11 (2C)

RECEIVING

Rice (RB): 76-704-9.3-3

Welker: 122 (1L)-1,569 (1C)-12.9-9 (T2C)

OFFENSE

338.7

428.0 (1L)

TAKE/GIVE

+2

+17 (1C)

DEFENSE

288.9 (3L)

411.1

SACKS

Suggs: 14 (1C)

Anderson: 10.0

INTs

Webb: 5 (T3C)

Arrington: 7 (T1L)

PR

Webb: 10.0

Edelman: 10.7

KR

D. Reed: 29.7

Woodhead: 21.9

PUNTING

Koch: 46.5

Mesko: 46.5

KICKING

Cundiff: 122 (38/38 PAT; 28/37 FG)

Gostkowski: 143 (1C) (59/59 PAT; 28/33 FG)


NOTES

TEAMS MEET for 2nd time in postseason. Ravens defeated Patriots 33-14 in Wild Card on 1/10/10.

RAVENS: Advanced to AFC Championship Game for 3rd time in franchise history & 2nd time in past 4 seasons...Seek to reach Super Bowl for 2nd time in club history (SB XXXV)...Ravens have 7-4 (.636) postseason road record...Club is 5-3 under head coach JOHN HARBAUGH in playoffs...Won AFC North title for 1st time since '06...Last week, Ravens posted 1st postseason win at home since 12/31/00...QB JOE FLACCO is 1st QB in Super Bowl era to start postseason game in each of 1st 4 seasons starting with rookie season. Incl. postseason, Flacco aims for 50th career win as starter (49-23, .681). In 3 career games vs. NE (incl. postseason), Flacco has completed 58 of 92 passes (63 pct.) for 583 yards with 4 TDs vs. 2 INTs & 86.5 passer rating. Incl. postseason, Ravens are 30-3 (.909) when Flacco has 95+ rating...In 3 career games vs. Patriots (incl. playoffs), RB RAY RICE averages 145.7 scrimmage yards per game (350 rushing, 87 receiving). Rice registered 83-yard TD run in Wild Card vs. NE on 1/10/10, 2nd-longest rush TD in NFL playoff history (FRED TAYLOR, 90-yard rush TD on 1/15/00). Posted NFL-best 2,068 scrimmage yards in '11. Led AFC RBs with 76 receptions this season. Reached 1,200 rush yards for 3rd straight regular season (1,339 in '09, 1,220 in '10, 1,364 in '11). In Week 17, RB RICKY WILLIAMS(10,009) became 26th player in NFL history to reach 10,000 career rush yards...WR ANQUAN BOLDIN has 24 catches for 325 yards with 3 TDs in 6 career postseason games. Had 4 catches for 63 receiving yards with TD catch in only meeting vs. NE (10/17/10). Rookie WR TORREY SMITH tied for 2nd among NFL rookies with 7 TD catches (JULIO JONES, 8) in '11...TE ED DICKSON had career-best in receptions (54), receiving yards (528) & TD catches (5) in '11. TE KRIS WILSON has 2 TD catches in past 2 playoff games...Defense led AFC w/ 48 sacks in '11...Ravens have registered 32 postseason INTs since 2000, most in NFL...Bal. has posted 12 sacks & 6 INTs in past 4 games against NE (incl. postseason)...Defense allowed 3rd-fewest yards per game (288.9) & points per game (16.6) this season...LB RAY LEWIS will play in 17th career postseason game (10-6). LB TERRELL SUGGS (10) needs 1 sack to become 6th player in NFL history to reach 11 career postseason sacks. Led AFC with 14 sacks in '11, 3rd-most in season in franchise history (PETER BOULWARE, 15 in '01; MICHAEL MC CRARY, 14.5 in '98)... DT HALOTI NGATA had 2 sacks in last meeting vs. Patriots...S ED REED (8) needs INT to tie Pro Football HOFer RONNIE LOTT (9), BILL SIMPSON & CHARLIE WATERS for most INTs in playoff history ...CB LARDARIUS WEBB tied franchise single-game postseason record with 2 INTs last week. Had career-best 5 INTs in '11...Club had 7 players selected to 2012 Pro Bowl (FB VONTA LEACH, LB Lewis, DT Ngata, S Reed, RB Rice, LB Suggs, & G MARSHAL YANDA).

PATRIOTS: Have 3-0 record at home in AFC Championship Game...Seek to reach Super Bowl for 7th time in franchise history...Incl. postseason, Patriots have 4-1 record at home vs. Ravens...With win last week, head coach BILL BELICHICK & QB TOM BRADY (15 wins) surpassed HOFers CHUCK NOLL & TERRY BRADSHAW (14) of Pit. for most wins by QB-head coach duo. Belichick tied Noll (16) for 4th-most playoff wins all-time last week...Brady (4,770) needs 195 passing yards to surpass HOFer JOHN ELWAY (4,964) for 4th-most postseason passing yards in NFL history. Brady (6) tied HOFer STEVE YOUNG & DARYLE LAMONICA for most TD passes in game in NFL history last week. Brady (36) needs 4 TD passes to join HOFer JOE MONTANA (45) & BRETT FAVRE (44) as only QBs to reach 40 postseason TD passes all-time. Has thrown TD pass in 18 consecutive postseason games, 2nd-longest streak in NFL history (Favre, 20). Has 15-5 (.750) playoff record, best postseason record as starting QB in NFL history (min. 15 starts). Has 9-2 record at home in playoffs. Brady had 5,235 passing yards in '11, 2nd-most passing yards in season in NFL history, trailing only DREW BREES (5,476) in '11...RB BEN JARVUS GREEN-ELLIS reached 10+ rush TDs in consecutive seasons (13 in '10; 11 in '11)...WR WES WELKER has 40 receptions in 5 career playoff games. Welker joined CRIS CARTER (122 in '94 & '95) as only players to have 120+ receptions twice in career (123 in '09; 122 in '11). Joined HOFer JERRY RICE & MARVIN HARRISON as only players to have 4 100-catch seasons. WR DEION BRANCH (773) posted 85 receiving yards last week & surpassed TROY BROWN (694) for most career postseason receiving yards in Patriots history. Had 9 catches for 98 receiving yards with TD catch in last game vs. Ravens (10/17/10)...TEROB GRONKOWSKI had 3 TD catches last week, tied for most in postseason game in NFL history. Gronkowski set single-season record for TEs in receiving yards (1,327) & TD receptions (17) in '11. Became 1st TE in NFL history to lead league in TD catches. TE AARON HERNANDEZ totaled 116 scrimmage yards (61 rushing, 55 receiving) with 1 TD reception last week. Had career-best in catches (79), receiving yards (910) & TDs (7) in '11...Defense has posted 52 postseason sacks since 2000, 2nd-most in NFL during span (Pit., 53)...LB JEROD MAYO led club with 95 tackles in '11...LB ROB NINKOVICH & DT VINCE WILFORK posted 1.5 sacks apiece last week. Ninkovich had career-best 6.5 sacks this season...CB KYLE ARRINGTON tied for NFL-best with 7 INTs. Patriots tied for NFL-best with 8 Pro Bowl players (QB Brady, DE ANDRE CARTER, TE Gronkowski, G LOGAN MANKINS, ST MATTHEW SLATER, G BRIAN WATERS, WR Welker & DT Wilfork).

Baltimore and New England will meet for the eighth time. The Patriots have won all six regular-season contests yet the Ravens won the only playoff meeting, winning 33-14 at New England in a 2009 Wild Card game. In that game, Baltimore running back RAY RICE rushed for a franchise playoff record 159 yards, including two touchdowns. Rice had an 83-yard TD run in that contest, the second-longest rushing touchdown in NFL postseason history.

Last week, Baltimore defeated Houston 20-13 as JOHN HARBAUGH became the first head coach in NFL history to win a postseason game in each of his first four seasons. Ravens quarterback JOE FLACCO threw two touchdown passes and has won five playoff games in his first four NFL seasons, tied with BEN ROETHLISBERGER and KURT WARNER for the second most postseason wins by a QB in his first four years. New England's TOM BRADY won six playoff games in his first four NFL seasons.

"Joe has come in and led us to the playoffs in each of the last four years," says linebacker RAY LEWIS, the last remaining member of the Ravens' Super Bowl XXXV championship team in the 2000 season. "What matters is what we think inside of this building and what we feel about him and the confidence we have in him. Joe Flacco has done a heck of a job getting us into the position to win."

Defensively, the Ravens had three interceptions against the Texans, including two by cornerback LARDARIUS WEBB, tying the club's single-game playoff record (ED REED, twice and DUANE STARKS). Reed recorded his eighth career postseason interception, tied for the fourth-most in NFL history.

The Patriots advanced to their ninth AFC Championship with a 45-10 win over Denver in the Divisional round. New England is 6-2 in AFC Championship Games, including 3-0 at home. With the victory, head coach BILL BELICHICK and quarterback Brady recorded their 15th postseason win together, the most by a head coach and starting quarterback tandem in NFL history, passing Pro Football Hall of Famers CHUCK NOLL and TERRY BRADSHAW (14).

"It's all about winning," says Brady, who passed for 363 yards and tied an NFL postseason record with six touchdown passes. "From this point on, everyone will be focused on what we need to do to be better next week and hopefully come out and play for another championship."

In the Divisional round victory, New England scored 45 points, gained 509 yards and did not allow a sack. It marked the first time a team has had at least 40 points and 500 yards without allowing a sack in a postseason game since the 1990 Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game.

Brady became the first player in NFL history to pass for at least 350 yards and six touchdowns in a postseason game. He also is the first player in league annals to pass for at least six touchdowns in a game twice during the regular season and once in the postseason. His 15 career playoff wins as a starting quarterback rank second all-time behind Pro Football Hall of Famer JOE MONTANA (16).

"Tom was on fire," says Patriots tight end ROB GRONKOWSKI, who had three touchdown receptions, tied for the most in a postseason game in NFL history. "That's just how he is, throwing the ball in the playoffs just like any other game."

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