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Patriots Come Back, Beat Baltimore to Advance to AFC Title Game
By Mike Jasko

Tom Brady

With 5:21 remaining in the fourth quarter, Tom Brady hit Brandon LaFell for a 23-yard touchdown to give the Patriots a 35-31 lead. It culminated a masterful 74-yard drive by New England. With that touchdown, Brady broke Joe Montana’s record for postseason touchdown passes. It could not have come at a better time for the Patriots; on the previous drive, a 25-yard Justin Tucker had once again given the Ravens the lead, who were looking for their third playoff win in Foxboro since 2000.

Baltimore started the game very well, scoring on their first two drives. On game’s opening possession, Joe Flacco led the Ravens on a 71-yard touchdown drive in just five plays. The Patriots’ first drive stalled when an apparent first down reception was overturned upon review. Baltimore would again swiftly drive down the field and a 9-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith made it 14-0.

New England would get on the board on their next drive however, embarking on a 78-yard drive that ended with a four yard touchdown run by Tom Brady. The Patriots would draw even in the second quarter on a 15-yard pass from Brady to Danny Amendola.

The Patriots couldn’t keep the score level going into halftime however; with the Patriots driving, Tom Brady was picked off near midfield, allowing the Ravens to take possession with 1:03 remaining in the first half. This allowed Baltimore to drive to the 11-yard line, from where Flacco found tight end Owen Daniels for the touchdown, and the Ravens led 21-14 at the half.

After the Patriots opened the second half with a 3-and-out, Baltimore once again drove the ball downfield, scoring on a Justin Forsett touchdown reception. Historically speaking, this should have put the game out of reach of the Patriots. No team had ever overcome two 14-point deficits to win playoff game.

But the Patriots quickly went to work. On the very next drive, they drove down the field and scored on a touchdown from Brady to Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots then forced the Baltimore into a 3-and-out on their next possession. When New England got the ball back, they needed just three snaps to tie the game. The first two were Tom Brady completions, the third, a trick play resulting in a 51-yard touchdown pass from Danny Amendola to Julian Edelman.

After Justin Tucker’s go-ahead field goal, the stage was set for another game-winning drive by Tom Brady. The 37-year-old was magnificent on the game’s final scoring drive, completing 8-of-9 passes. It was Brady’s 19th playoff victory, an NFL record. The Patriots are the top seed in the AFC and will host the winner of Sunday’s Colts-Broncos match-up.

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