4:25 PM ET, December 22, 2013
M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD
BALTIMORE -- The New England Patriots put on a performance worthy of a division winner.
Making it even sweeter was that it came at the expense of the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, who bounced New England from the postseason last season.
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Logan Ryan had two interceptions, LeGarrette Blount scored twice and the playoff-bound Patriots breezed to a 41-7 victory Sunday, ending the Ravens' four-game winning streak and diminishing their postseason hopes.
The previous time these two teams met, the AFC title hung in the balance and Baltimore used a strong second half to pull out a 28-13 victory.
In this one, New England took a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter and never let up behind a defense that forced four turnovers and had four sacks.
The Patriots (11-4) were assured their fifth straight AFC East title before the game started when Miami lost at Buffalo. It's the 11th division crown for New England coach Bill Belichick, tied with Don Shula for most since the 1970 merger.
"Happy to win the AFC East," Belichick said. "Hopefully, we can build off this game."
Tom Brady completed 14 of 26 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown. He has led his team to 11 division titles, two more than any other starting quarterback in NFL history.
"They're all special. It's hard to come by, and this team's really fought hard all year," Brady said. "We've earned it. Eleven wins in the NFL's not easy, and to win a division title's not easy."
The loss eliminated the Ravens (8-7) from contention in the AFC North and dropped them into a tie with Miami and San Diego for the final AFC wild-card slot. Baltimore closes the regular season at Cincinnati, which displaced the Ravens as division champs.
"We got to go in there and win. That was going to be the case no matter what," said Harbaugh, who is in danger of missing the postseason for the first time in his six seasons with Baltimore.
Beasts of the AFC East
With the Dophins loss Sunday, the Patriots became the first team since the merger to win 10 division titles in an 11-season span.
|*Doesn't include overlapping spans by team|
-- ESPN Stats & Info
It was the Ravens' most lopsided loss since a 37-0 defeat at Pittsburgh in 1997. Things went so bad for Baltimore that Justin Tucker's run of 33 straight field goals ended when he went wide left on a 37-yarder with 14:19 remaining.
Joe Flacco went 22 for 38 for 260 yards and two interceptions for the Ravens, who fell to 6-2 at home.
Wearing a brace on his left knee after being injured last week in Detroit, Flacco had difficulty escaping the unyielding pressure applied by New England's defensive front.
"I don't think he played well," Harbaugh said.
Refusing to use the brace as an excuse, Flacco said, "I would have liked to play better. The brace had nothing to do with anything."
Baltimore trailed 20-0 late in the third quarter when Ray Rice was stuffed for no gain on a fourth-and-1 at the New England 4. That effectively ended any chance of a comeback.
The Ravens scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Flacco with 9:21 left, enabling Baltimore to avoid its first shutout loss since 2002, against Tampa Bay.
It was of very little consolation to the defending champs.
"It's a tough pill to swallow," safety James Ihedigbo said. "Definitely a frustrating loss."
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New England scored on a 7-yard run by Blount with 2:05 to go to make it 27-7, then added another touchdown when an errant snap eluded Ravens backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor and Chandler Jones recovered the ball in the end zone.
Tavon Wilson capped the scoring with a 74-yard interception return with 40 seconds remaining.
Baltimore's previous three games were decided by three points or fewer, but it became evident early that this one would not be close.
New England went up 7-0 on its second possession. A 34-yard pass interference penalty against Jimmy Smith put the ball at the Baltimore 1 before Blount bulled into the end zone.
Three plays later, Flacco threw into double coverage and was intercepted by Ryan at the New England 47. After completing a 34-yard pass to Danny Amendola, Brady connected with Shane Vereen for a 4-yard score.
The Patriots quickly got the ball back, and Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 45-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter to make it 17-0.
Shortly after halftime, the Ravens went for it on fourth-and-3 at the New England 39 and Flacco threw an incomplete pass.
Baltimore's next possession ended with Ryan's second interception of the game and fifth of the season. Seven plays later, Gostkowski kicked a 42-yard field goal.
Flacco tried to rally the Ravens, but after a 42-yard completion to Torrey Smith produced a first down at the New England 13, he couldn't get into the end zone.
New England DB Devin McCourty left with a head injury, and Vereen left with a groin injury. ... Tucker's miss was his first since Week 2. ... Baltimore finished with more yardage, 358-300.
BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 22: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws passes during warmups...(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||4.8||4.8|
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||3-3||1-3|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||2||0|
|TD||9:45||Legarrette Blount 1 Yard Run (Stephen Gostkowski Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 64 yds, 2:47
|TD||4:56||Shane Vereen 4 Yard Pass From Tom Brady (Stephen Gostkowski Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 53 yds, 3:26
|FG||14:55||Stephen Gostkowski 45 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 6 plays, 37 yds, 2:23
|FG||7:20||Stephen Gostkowski 42 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 7 plays, 19 yds, 3:10
|TD||9:24||Joe Flacco 1 Yard Run (Justin Tucker Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 90 yds, 2:48
|TD||2:10||Legarrette Blount 7 Yard Run (Stephen Gostkowski Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 48 yds, 4:32
|TD||2:05||Chandler Jones Fumble Recovery (Stephen Gostkowski Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 1 plays, -20 yds, 0:06
|TD||0:54||Tavon Wilson 74 Yard Interception Return (Stephen Gostkowski Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 41 yds, 1:19
Tom Brady will play make his 11th postseason appearance as a starting QB, tied with Joe Montana for the third-most in NFL history.[+]
Flacco was 2-of-9 for 30 yards and an interception throwing at least 15 yards downfield, including 0-for-2 targeting Torrey Smith. Flacco entered Sunday with the third-lowest completion percentage on deep throws in the league (30.2 percent) among qualified quarterbacks.
From Elias: The Patriots are the first team since the merger to win 10 division titles in an 11-season span.[+]
Most Division Titles in 11-Year Span Since Merger
Joe Flacco was 18-of-32 for 210 yards with two interceptions and two sacks when the Patriots sent four or fewer pass rushers. Flacco and Geno Smith (Week 2) are the only quarterbacks this season to throw multiple interceptions without a touchdown against New England's standard pressure.[+]
Joe Flacco vs 4 or Fewer Rushers, 2013
Joe Flacco was 0-3 passing with an interception on throws 15+ yards downfield in 1st half. This Season he has 3 TD and 8 Int on such throws after 11 TD and 2 Int last season.
ESPN Stats & Information
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