FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots are rolling onto the Super Bowl after a thrilling 23-20 victory over the Ravens at Gillette Stadium.
Let’s get it going:
WHY DID THE PATRIOTS WIN?
Been trying to figure that out, and not sure if I have a good answer. The Ravens had multiple opportunities to win that game and couldn’t do it. So I’m left with this: the Patriots — all of them, collectively — made enough plays when it counted to win the game. They weren’t great on offense. They weren’t great on defense. They had a fumble on special teams. But after 60 minutes, the Patriots made enough plays in key moments in all three phases to come out with a victory.
- CB Kyle Arrington (eye) returned to the game.
- TE Rob Gronkowski (left ankle) returned to the game but was seen after the game wearing a walking boot.
THREE THINGS TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT
- You’re going to the Super Bowl: I mean, what’s not to feel good about with that? The Patriots are one of two teams still playing. Everyone else is playing golf.
- Defense: If you told me before the game the Patriots would lose the turnover battle, 3-1, I would have told you they would have lost. But the Patriots held the Ravens to 6 points on those three turnovers. To me, that’s where the Ravens lost the game and the Patriots won it. You have to capitalize on the other team’s mistakes.
- Offensive line: Officially, Brady was sacked once and hit twice more. The Patriots basically erased Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata from the game. That was huge. Matt Light continues to have a great season. Not sure what the Patriots did on Ngata, but that Dan Connolly wasn’t owned like Dan Koppen was last year. I’m tipping my cap to Connolly.
THREE THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT
- The Giants are coming: New York was the last team to beat the Patriots and they did it at Gillette without RB Ahmad Bradshaw, WR Hakeem Nicks, C David Baas and FB Henry Hynoski. The Patriots were at full strength, but did lose LB Brandon Spikes and S Patrick Chung during the course of the game. The Giants are going to be a real challenge, both in their pass rush and offensively.
- Gronkowski’s injury: I’m sure Drago will be fine — the kid is made of steel — but it’s definitely something to worry about. He’s a beast and the Patriots need him at full strength.
- Pass defense: The Patriots had some issues in coverage and tackling against the Ravens, who weren’t able to capitalize on some open receivers and potential big plays. The Giants and Eli Manning are much more capable than anything the Patriots have encountered since their last matchup.
- DT Vince Wilfork: We had him for six tackles, a sack, four hurries, two tackles for a loss and a half run stuff. Wilfork played 67 of the 70 snaps. Had two huge plays on third and fourth downs late in the game. The captain was immense.
- RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis: His stat line of 68 yards on 15 carries might not be huge, but his effectiveness really took the wind out of the Ravens’ sails, and his touchdown was a great team effort.
- LT Matt Light: It barely looked like Terrell Suggs played. Some Jets coach said he was unblockable. Guess not.
- CB Sterling Moore: After knocking the winning TD away from Lee Evans, Moore batted away the third-down pass as well to set up the missed field goal that ended the game.
Super Bowl XLVI: New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium on Feb. 5, 6:20 p.m.
Result: Giants beat the 49ers, 20-17, in overtime as Manning was 32 of 58 for 316 yards and two touchdowns.