New England-Baltimore always had a little extra juice. Since these two teams first started playing in 1996, seven of the 14 games have been decided by seven points or fewer, including the 2007 drama-filled contest that had the Patriots keeping their perfect season alive with a 27-24 win.
But that rivalry hit its peak the last decade. In all, New England and Baltimore met nine times between 2010 and 2019, with the Patriots winning five. And four of the nine games were decided by four points or less. In an era where New England had to search for a true counterpoint, the Ravens were a consistent presence, a thorn-in-your-side team of salty players who weren’t intimidated by the Patriots’ success.
That wasn’t completely coincidental: former Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome made his bones working with Bill Belichick in Cleveland, and so when he took the reins in Baltimore, it was clear the Ravens’ team-building approach took a page from Belichick. Newsome was Baltimore’s GM from 2002 until 2018, and competed with Belichick for smart, tough players. And while Baltimore didn’t have the same electric run of success the Patriots enjoyed, the Ravens distinguished themselves as a more-than-worthy adversary during the second phase of New England’s dynasty.
This Sunday’s game may not reach the same heights of some of the classic battles of the last 10 years, but when you see our list of favorites, that’s an awfully tough bar to reach. With that in mind, here are our Top 5 favorite Patriots-Ravens games from the last decade.
5. Sept. 23, 2012: Ravens 31, Patriots 30
You’re going to sense a pattern here — most of the games on this list were decided by a field goal in the final moments, and this one was no exception. New England had a nine-point lead with five minutes to go, but the Ravens got a late touchdown and a 27-yard field goal from Justin Tucker as time expired to win the game.
However, the ball sailed over the top of the right upright. While the Ravens danced off the field in celebration, Belichick and Vince Wilfork weren’t happy, as Belichick ran off the field after a replacement referee, grabbing at his arm in hopes of trying to get his attention. Afterward, he didn’t mince words when asked about the officials, who called 10 penalties on the Patriots.
“I’m not going to comment about that. You saw the game. What did we have, 30 penalties called in that game?” he asked. “You’ll have to talk to the officials about the way they called the game. Talk to the league about it.”
The impact of that game created ripples throughout the league: The officiating was so bad, it turned out to be one of the last games with replacement referees. And two years later, the league voted to raise the height of the uprights from 30 to 35 feet. There hasn’t been an issue since.
4. Oct. 10, 2010: Patriots 23, Ravens 20
It was a wacky month for the Patriots, as they were in the midst of overhauling their offense on the fly: they shipped Randy Moss out to the Vikings in a seismic deal, and welcomed back Deion Branch in a trade with the Seahawks. Branch, who had been in exile in Seattle for four seasons, didn’t miss a beat. Days after the deal, Brady’s all-time favorite receiver (something I believe with every fiber of my being) had a team-high nine catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. Stephen Gostkowski followed up a game-tying field-goal that came with less than two minutes to go in regulation with a 35-yard game-winner in overtime. For New England, the win was nine months and a week after the embarrassing 33-14 wild-card loss to Baltimore at home.
3. Jan. 20, 2013: Ravens 28, Patriots 13
Given the circumstances and the environment, it was one of the most impressive performances I’ve ever seen from an opposing quarterback at Gillette Stadium in January. While Joe Flacco’s numbers weren’t overwhelming — he was 21-for-36 for 240 yards with three touchdowns in the relatively easy win for Baltimore — he was poised and professional in the New England chill, leading the Ravens to the AFC title. (And eventually, the Super Bowl.)
This game was one of the reasons why I always tried to go down to the visitors tunnel before the contest was actually done. The late Dan Pires, who covered the team for the New Bedford Standard-Times, assured me it was a great way to get some unique color and context, and this time, the Ravens didn’t disappoint. They mocked the Foxborough crowd coming off the field, waving goodbye to them. “Tell them to have fun at the Pro Bowl,” Suggs cackled gleefully as he danced down the walkway to the Baltimore locker room.
2. Jan. 22, 2012: Patriots 23, Ravens 20
Billy Cundiff missed what would have been a game-winner as time expired, allowing New England to escape with the AFC title and a berth in Super Bowl XLVI. As the pool reporter, I was deputized with the opportunity to be on the field during the postgame trophy ceremony — a way to get some on-the-spot interviews that would be transcribed and distributed to the media. As the game was winding down, I was on the field with Levan Reid of WBZ. We were standing just to the right of the uprights at the closed end of the stadium. We saw Sterling Moore knock the ball away from Lee Evans. We saw the Ravens and Cundiff line up for what would be a 32-yard game-tying field goal. We saw Cundiff’s field-goal attempt sail wide left, and a tidal wave of sound engulfs us. Reid was standing right next to me and I couldn’t understand a single word he’s saying. One of the loudest moments of my life.
1. Jan. 10, 2015: Patriots 35, Ravens 31
This game was an epic novel, a ridiculous soap-opera that saw New England twice come back from 14-point deficits to win and advance to the AFC title game. The single most underrated postseason contest of the Belichick-Brady era included the Patriots’ unbalanced line, a move that unnerved a usually rock-solid Ravens’ team. There was a duel between Steve Smith and Darrelle Revis that ended with Revis noting snarkily that Smith “got erased” after three early catches. And a mentally tough New England team that twice pushed its way out of double-digit deficits to win.
Julian Edelman’s touchdown pass to Danny Amendola turned out to be one of the memorable postseason moments in New England franchise history. It was a thunderbolt that energized the sellout crowd — the subsequent celebration caused the Gillette Stadium press box to shake harder than it had ever shaken before. The game proved to be a springboard to a memorable playoff run, one that culminated with an even more dramatic win over the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX.
This originally appeared in Point After, our Patriots/NFL newsletter. Click here to sign up and get more Pats news straight to your inbox on Mondays and Fridays.
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