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The offense didn’t have to wait long for its next shot on the field – on first down Flacco looked for tight end Dennis Pitta across the middle and instead found Patriots safety Steve Gregory.
Gregory’s 36-yard return gave New England first and goal from the 6. Rookie running back Brandon Bolden got his first NFL touchdown to put the Patriots ahead, 10-0.
New England went up, 13-0, before the end of the first quarter, on a 49-yard field goal by Gostkowski.
Baltimore got two interesting calls during its first touchdown drive. The first was a pass-interference call on Jerod Mayo that only moved the Ravens forward 2 yards but gave them a fresh set of downs after a broken third-down play.
Then on third and 13, Flacco found Anquan Boldin on the right sideline. Boldin stretched for the first-down marker and initially the ball was marked about a yard shy of the first down. Harbaugh challenged the spot of the ball and won the challenge and the Ravens got the first down at midfield.
Three plays later, Flacco hit Smith with a pretty ball in the end zone. Kyle Arrington misjudged the pass, and Smith hauled it in for the touchdown.
Baltimore took the lead with a 10-play, 92-yard drive that ended with a 20-yard pass to Pitta.
Gregory made a poor attempt at tackling the big tight end and a late-arriving McCourty couldn’t get to Pitta before he ran over the goal line.
Brady led the Patriots to their second touchdown drive of the night over the final 1:45 of the first half with the precision Patriots fans have long been accustomed to, giving New England a 20-14 lead.
Julian Edelman, who had a team-high four catches in the first half, got the touchdown, a 7-yarder on second down for the second offensive touchdown of his career.
Shalise Manza Young can be reached at email@example.com.