When Baltimore defensive coordinator Dean Pees was asked this week how his team plans to stop Tom Brady, he jokingly replied, “Hire Tonya Harding.” No need to outsource the Dreamboat injury duties when you got Bernard Pollard on the roster.
In reality, the Ravens defense has typically done all right against Brady without resorting to head-hunting and knee-shredding.
Ouch RT @mikegiardi: Ravens always Brady’s toughest opp. In last 6 games vs Balt: 59.7 cmp pct, 7 TDs, 8 int, 75.0 rtg & sacked 15x
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 15, 2013
That wasn’t as much the case in the teams’ first meeting this season back in Week 3, when Brady completed nearly 70 percent of his passes and finished with a QB rating north of 100. Of course, Baltimore won that game, which was muddled by the ineptitude of the scab refs. Either way, it’s apparent that Baltimore’s defense lives up to its inflated reputation less so than in most years.
For the Ravens to win, not only will Joe Flacco have to outplay Brady for a second straight conference championship game, but he’ll have to do so by extending long drives that keep the Patriots from getting its hurry-up offense going. The Ravens might have pulled a desperation TD out of its ass at the end of regulation last week to save its season, but engaging the Patriots in another shootout isn’t the way they’re finally going to break the AFC’s decade-long Super Bowl stranglehold by the Patriots, Steelers and Colts.
Baltimore already lost the guy who played Prop Joe and Earl Weaver this week. Adding the end of Ray Lewis’ (and possibly also Ed Reed’s) career in dispiriting circumstances would be a lot to take. Meanwhile, one of the handful of Patriots fans who actually bothered with the team before the days of Super Bowl wins is lecturing the bandwagoners and the youngin’s about the history of the team. Without a win today and another in two weeks, that history will have to include a notable string of postseason letdowns that denied Dreamboat and Grumblelord their place atop modern NFL history.