Replacement Refs Gone Wild was definitely in full affect once for the week 3 NBC Football America prime-time game of the week, as we saw a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game with the New England Patriots back in Baltimore. Both teams came into this game as the two had high hopes to avoid a 1-2 record. Ravens wide-out, Torrey Smith who had just lost his brother less than 24 hours ago from a motorcycle accident early Sunday morning, insisted he wanted to play this game and was activated to play in this instant classic. With a classic pre-game speech from the team leader Ray Lewis, the stage was set for the national audience to witness the best football game of the day.
In the first quarter it was all New England led by a pair of field goals by Stephen Gostkowski (37 and 49) and capped off with a no huddle 2-yard rushing touchdown with Brandon Bolden as the Patriots finished the quarter with a 10-0 lead. In the opening drive for the 2nd quarter, Joey Flacco would link up with Torrey Smith for a 25-yard TD pass on a 80-yard 13 play drive to make it a one possession game. On the next Ravens possession, Joey Flacco would throw for another touchdown but this time it would be with tight end Dennis Pitta for a 20-yard catch to give Baltimore the lead. With less than two minutes left before the half, Tom Brady would start from the New England 19 leading his team for a 81 yard drive finished with a TD pass to wideout Julian Edelman to regain the lead for the Patriots.
In the opening drive of the 3rd quarter, the Raves would march down the field on a 113 yard 3-mintute drive as Ray Rice rushed for a TD on the Ravens 2nd no huddle score of the game to regain the lead. Immediately on the next ensuing possession by the Patriots, Danny Woodhead would answer back with a no huddle rush TD of his own to regain the lead for New England with the score at 27-21. Fast-forwarding to the 4th, the Patriots would start the final quarter with a 20 yard fg chipped in by Stephen Gostkowski to give New England a 9 point lead. Going to the middle of the quarter, Joey Flacco led his team down the field once again on a 92 yard drive with in just over 3 minutes to linking up once more with Torrey Smith for his 2nd TD catch of the game to make it a two point lead at 30-28.
The Patriots would have a chance to extend the lead but failed in efforts as they had to punt the ball with 2 minutes remaining. On the final possession of the game, Joey Flacco planned to set his imprint in this game with slew of no huddles that got his team down field fast to set up for a field goal. Last year in the AFC title game, Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yarder losing the game for Baltimore in the closing seconds. Rookie Justin Tucker would hope to erase those nightmares the B-more fans suffered last year as he won the game with a 27-yard field goal barely passing the uprights as the Ravens won their 12 straight at home with Flacco at QB.
With this win, Joey Flacco became 3rd quarterback since the merger to throw for at least 375 yards and 3 touchdowns with Kurt Warner (2001) and Dan Marino (1994) being the other two backs). Baltimore gets short rest this week as they play a Thursday game against the Cleveland Browns which should be an easy one; while New England travels to Buffalo Sunday afternoon to play the Bills.--