Secondary (2.5 out of 5)
Kyle Arrington had perhaps his best game in coverage all season. He was a blanket. McCourty was stuck at deep safety all game while the Ravens ran and threw short. Steve Gregory’s struggles, which can be masked in big victories, were brought to light in this game. Gregory was fortunate on the third possession that Flacco slightly overthrew Pitta because he was dusted.
On the one ball the Ravens threw to a receiver on their opening scoring drive — 25 yards on second and 6 — the defense was Cover 3 robber (a free player lurks to make a play). Gregory looked like he knew he should have been better on the play. Flacco never took his eyes off the receiver and Gregory was late.
Gregory never laid a hand while Pitta scored an easy touchdown against him in man coverage. Boldin’s first touchdown over McCourty was just a great play by a strong player. On the Boldin score to make it 28-13 over Cole, I have no idea why there wasn’t a safety giving him help. It seems like there should have been one but both McCourty and Gregory were at the hash marks at the 2-yard line. Dennard was mostly solid.
Special teams (4.5 out of 5)
The Patriots won every battle in coverages — they did a great job against Jacoby Jones — and Zoltan Mesko (four of his five punts inside the 20) outkicked Sam Koch. Arrington (two tackles) and Cole stood out on coverage units.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Situation: Leading, 137, on their first drive of the second half, the Patriots were driving when they faced third and 8 at the Baltimore 34-yard line.
What happened: The Ravens bluffed a blitz, showing seven players on the line of scrimmage, including both linebackers and safety Bernard Pollard (31). At the snap, nose tackle Haloti Ngata, linebacker Ray Lewis (52) and end Paul Kruger (99) dropped into coverage as the Ravens rushed just four, and it’s easily picked up. Kruger was running a bracket coverage on Wes Welker (83) defending the inside, while cornerback Corey Graham (24) played over the top as a pseudo safety. Welker and Tom Brady (12) both read it perfectly as Welker broke wide open to the sideline at the 25 and Brady threw it right at Welker’s face. But Welker, who had just been lit up by Pollard three plays earlier on an illegal hit to the head, peeked at the defenders as the ball hit his hands and he dropped it. After a 21-yard punt by the Patriots on fourth and 8, the Ravens scored on the next possession to take a lead they would not relinquish.
ON HIS GAME
Ryan Wendell, center
Had a completely clean sheet — no quarterback pressures or bad run blocks allowed — in the biggest game of his career. Totally controlled the middle of the line.
OFF HIS GAME
Michael Hoomanawanui, tight end
Was completely overmatched trying to fill Rob Gronkowski’s blocking role in two-tightend sets against the physical Ravens, and appeared to be benched after 16 snaps for Daniel Fells (30) — a move that surprisingly wasn’t made earlier this season.