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Stakes intensified

Plenty of ravin’ between Patriots and the Ravens

By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / January 16, 2012
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The Patriots and Jets have their border war, which has had its share of memorable moments, particularly in recent years, when it morphed into the cold war when Eric Mangini patrolled New York’s sideline, and since Rex Ryan began roaring.

The Patriots and Colts have engaged in some epic, ratings-busting showdowns, in the regular season and playoffs, that showcased the premier quarterbacks of their generation.

The Patriots and the Ravens don’t play as often, but there is plenty of animosity between the sides based on their brief but intense history - they just don’t like each other.

New England and Baltimore will meet Sunday at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship game with a chance to play in Super Bowl XLVI on the line. Never before has so much been at stake when these two rivals square off.

As rivalries go, Patriots-Ravens does not have the history of Packers-Bears or Harvard-Yale. Sunday will be the eighth all-time meeting since the Ravens entered the league in 1996. It’s the seventh of the Bill Belichick era and the sixth since Tom Brady became New England’s starting quarterback.

The Patriots have won all but one of the previous meetings, though their margin of victory has shrunk in recent years and the intensity has ramped up.

A brief history of the bad blood:

■Dec. 3, 2007: The 12-0 Patriots traveled to M&T Bank Stadium for a Monday night game against a Ravens squad with just four wins. The Patriots trailed, 24-20, when they got the ball with 3:30 to play. Brady drove the Patriots into the red zone, but the Ravens stopped them on fourth down – or so they thought. Defensive coordinator Rex Ryan called timeout, negating the stop. Adding to the drama: assistants aren’t supposed to call timeouts, only the head coach, but the official simply heard the request and granted it.

When the teams lined up again for fourth down, New England got new life when Baltimore was called for holding, giving it a fresh set of downs. Brady found Jabar Gaffney in the end zone, the receiver held on, and the touchdown held up.

After the game, the Ravens accused the officials of showing favoritism to the Patriots.

■Oct. 4, 2009: The Patriots took a 21-7 lead at halftime and held on for a 27-21 win at Gillette Stadium. The Ravens twice were flagged for roughing the passer, the second on Terrell Suggs under the so-called “Brady rule’’ when he lunged at the quarterback’s knee.

“Without totally going off the wall here, it is embarrassing to the game,’’ Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said, basically going off the wall. “Brady is good enough to make his own plays, let him make the play. Both of their [first-half] touchdown drives had personal fouls that kept the drives alive.’’

Bill Belichick even got into the act - as revealed in “A Football Life,’’ which chronicled the Patriots 2009 season - as the coach and Baltimore receiver Derrick Mason had an obscenity-laced back-and-forth during the game.

■Jan. 10, 2010: The Ravens returned to Gillette for a wild-card game and gained their first victory against New England. Running back Ray Rice took the first snap of the game for an 83-yard touchdown, the Ravens scored 24 first-quarter points, and Baltimore rolled to a 33-14 win, the first home playoff loss for New England in over 30 years.

■Oct. 17, 2010: New England won, 23-20, in overtime at Gillette. Suggs said of Brady after the game, “He just better hope he don’t see us again.’’

The next day, Brady, in a rare moment of trash talking, said, “Well he had his chance, so maybe if he gets another chance he can try to back those words up. We play those guys a lot and they’ve only beat us one time in all the times that I’ve played them. So they talk a lot for beating us once in nine years.’’

A couple of months later, Suggs revealed he did not vote for Brady to go to the Pro Bowl, reasoning that Brady likely didn’t vote for him either. A couple of days later, Suggs reversed course, saying he did vote for Brady.

On Jan. 13, 2011, Suggs told Sirius NFL radio that Brady’s three Super Bowl wins are “questionable,’’ citing the Tuck Rule game and Spygate.

The linebacker also pointed to that 2009 regular-season game as the genesis of his dislike for Brady, saying, “It all brews from when I nicked his knee a little bit. I was like, ‘Wow, you almost hit a guy and get flagged?’ I never knew one man could have so much power.’’

After yesterday’s victory over the Texans, the Ravens already were looking ahead to their bout with the Patriots.

After complimenting Belichick and Brady, perennial Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed said, “We’re coming in and they know it.’’

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