AFC Championship

Shinichi Inoue, Staff Reporter

(12-4, 4-4 away) Baltimore Ravens 20 vs. 23 New England Patriots (13-3, 7-1 home)

It took the Baltimore Ravens less than four seconds to blow their shot at Super Bowl XLVI. Trailing the New England Patriots by three in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship game, the Ravens marched down the field thanks to their 9-play, 65-yard drive. After two incomplete passes by quarterback Joe Flacco, Baltimore had a shot at tying the game and sending it into overtime. While at the New England 14-yard line, 7-year veteran Billy Cundiff came in to attempt a routine 32-yard field goal. Prior to this, Cundiff had made his two previous kicks, a 20-yarder and a 39-yarder. But on this night, there was nothing routine about his kick. In a split second, Cundiff’s kick sailed wide left and Gillette Stadium erupted with cheers from the Patriot hopefuls. Just like that, Cundiff eliminated the Ravens from a chance at the Super Bowl. A kneel by Patriot quarterback Tom Brady sent New England back to their fifth Super Bowl appearance since 2000.

New England breathed a sigh of relief, especially with an ineffective Brady at the helm. “Well, I sucked pretty bad today, but our defense saved us,” Brady said after throwing for 239 yards, with two interceptions, and no touchdown passes for the first time in 36 games. Brady added, “I’m going to try to go out and do a better job in a couple of weeks, but I’m proud of this team, my teammates.”

On the other hand, Cundiff had no excuse about his miss. “It’s a kick I’ve kicked probably a thousand times in my career,” said Cundiff, “I went out there and didn’t convert. That’s the way things go.” Before Cundiff’s miss, the Ravens had a chance to go for the win two plays earlier, but wide receiver Lee Evans was stripped of the ball in the end zone by the Patriots cornerback Sterling Moore.

This will be the Patriots’ fifth trip to the Super Bowl, and it’s especially sweet for 34-year old Brady. With this trip, Brady ties John Elway’s achievement with Denver. In New England’s last trip to the big game, the Patriots had an 18-0 record when they were shocked by the underdog Giants four years ago. The Patriots are seeking their fourth Super Bowl ring after winning it all in 2001, 2003, and 2004. This time, they head to the Super Bowl with a 10-game winning streak.


Interesting Statistic:

Brady may not have thrown a touchdown pass against the Ravens on Sunday, but he continued to leave a mark in the history book. The victory gave Brady his 16th win – tying Joe Montana for the most playoff wins. Brady also passed John Elway for the fourth most pass yards in the postseason.