8:21 – Just spent the last five hours commiserating with my high school chums over the Eagles loss. I’ll try to exclude my bitterness from the next three hours of fun.
8:26 – It’s an incredibly tough week for the NFL. Not only did they lose NFL pioneer Steve Sabol but also the brother of Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith, Tevin, on Sunday morning in a motorcycle accident.
8:31 – The Son of Jor-el takes the field first…Bernard Pollard watch begins.
8:32 – Brady completes to Brandon Lloyd. Jesus, I should have picked the Patriots.
8:34 – Brady is sacked on a 3rd and 14. Forget that. I should have picked the Ravens.
8:37 – Flacco and friends take the field…
8:38 – Flacco and friends leave the field…
8:42 – Brady hits a lowly receiver downfield on a 59-yard catch and run. Wes Welker’s reception sets up the Pats near the red zone.
8:45 – Ed Reed hits Julian Edelman with a forearm to the head in the end zone to help jar loose a potential touchdown reception on third down. In the land of replacement refs, it’s all legal. Gostkowski actually hits this field goal attempt.
PATRIOTS 3, RAVENS 0
8:50 – Y’all keep believing that Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback. Intercepted by Steve Gregory to open the next drive. New England ball inside the BAL 10.
8:52 – Brandon Bolden scores on a two-yard run. I’m never trusting Baltimore ever again. Shameful.
PATRIOTS 10, RAVENS 0
8:58 – Uncle Joe throws short of the sticks on third down. Good job by New England’s secondary.
9:04 – DEAR REPLACEMENT REFS, TAKE CONTROL OF THIS FOOTBALL GAME. In between the plays, this is essentially what it looks like:
9:06 – I can’t tell you how much I hate myself for picking against the Patriots right now. Ravens look mystified.
9:07 – Al Michaels on Wes Welker drop: “We’ve seen that before.” Geez Al. Ease up bro.
9:09 – Replacement refs sabotage New England drive by making up pass interference and holding calls. These guys are getting progressively worse.
9:10 – Gostkowski knocks through another field goal.
PATRIOTS 13, RAVENS 0
9:13 – The Ravens are still the Ravens…shrinking in the big moment.
END OF 1ST: PATRIOTS 13, RAVENS 0
9:16 – The refs have been very replacement-y so far:
9:17 – Collinsworth is saying this game is the son of the 2003 AFC Championship. Eh, perhaps.
9:24 – Ravens in New England territory. Going for it just inside midfield. These guys are measuring a spot a yard away…really guys?
9:24 – BILL, FIGHT THE LEAGUE. GO OUT THERE AND ILLEGALLY INTIMIDATE THEM.
9:27 – Totally should have tried it. John Harbaugh challenges a Boldin catch that comes up short. First down Ravens.
9:29 – Ravens take advantage. Torrey Smith scores to cut into the New England deficit. If anybody deserves a great night, it’s that guy.
PATRIOTS 13, RAVENS 7
9:36 – Wes Welker’s mini-me is heating up. Julian Edelman with consecutive first down plays.
9:38 – New England loses 14 yards on a gimmick play to Edelman. Jesus. Trying to get too cute there. That’s a drive killer. Punt time.
9:43 – Jacoby Jones gets loose in the New England secondary to the Patriots 36 on a long gainer.
9:48 – STREAKER ALERT! Of course, NBC will not show this.
9:50 – Shoddy tackling by the Patriots by on a 3rd and 4 play gives Dennis Pitta a 20-yard TD reception with under two minutes left in the half. That even makes CC angry.
RAVENS 14, PATRIOTS 13
9:54 – Woah, a Rob Gronkowski sighting! How about that.
9:58 – New England is trying to make something out of the half’s final possession. An illegal contact penalty gives New England new life in Baltimore territory.
9:59 – Another big Welker catch gives New England a goal to go with just under 20 seconds left.
10:03 – And that’s how you do it Michael Vick. Brady to Edelman TD. Patriots regain the lead.
PATRIOTS 20, RAVENS 14
10:04 – This guy is boss right?
10:07 – New England goes into the locker room leading by six in a topsy-turvy first half.
HALFTIME: PATRIOTS 20, RAVENS 14
10:20 – Ravens have cranked up the Ray Rice machine to start the second half. Could be problematic for the Pats.
10:24 – It would appear the Pats are playing some sort of zone because Ravens receivers are sitting down and are wide open. A Smith catch in the red zone leads to a Ray Rice touchdown run. Baltimore’s O is taking New England to school.
RAVENS 21, PATRIOTS 20
10:28 – CC claims the Ravens played a song called “Revenge” at practice. Good lord. This is what happens when NBC plays knockoff covers of legendary songs.
10:34 – Pats on the stroll in Ravens territory, utilizing old wrestling heel tactics including pushing off and baiting Ravens players into taking personal fouls. I like it.
10:36 – Danny Woodhead barrels over Baltimore defenders on consecutive plays to score a touchdown. A 12-play drive by New England to answer the Ray Rice score.
PATRIOTS 27, RAVENS 21
10:40 – By the way, here is a photo of the Ravens streaker…complete with cape. What a clown.
10:46 – New England’s defense makes a stop! Someone remembered to play defense!
10:52 – Replacement refs can’t figure out how to assess a simple offsides call on 4th down. Wow.
10:53 – Pats moving on their latest drive. Sure could use a two-score lead heading to the fourth.
10:54 – By the way, Brandon Lloyd is getting a ton of looks tonight because of Baltimore’s coverage.
10:56 – Brady completes a pass to Welker, whose ribs get fried and fertilized by the Baltimore D. Brady quickly apologizes.
10:57 – Brady to Branch. The city of Baltimore hits Branch in the head with a forearm. Ed Reed will hear from Uncle Roger soon. New England ball in the red zone.
11:00 – A Ridley run brings the ball inside of the Baltimore 5. Trouble lurks for Baltimore if they can’t hold NE to a field goal.
END OF 3RD: PATRIOTS 27, RAVENS 21
11:04 – A game of human chess between the Ravens and Brady. Baltimore’s D is desperate for a stop. Keep calling blitzes at the goal line. It works. New England has to settle for a field goal. Two-possession game.
PATRIOTS 30, RAVENS 21
11:11 – The tale of Flacco…awful throw, Devin McCourty drops an interception. Next play…average throw, Boldin catch for a first down into New England territory.
11:13 – 4th and 1 from just outside the NE 30. Ravens try to run it with Bernard Pierce (?). Pats stonewall them. Turnover on downs.
11:19 – Patriots brought back Deion Branch to force him into retirement. He is taking some shots.
11:20 – New England is forced to punt as Baltimore’s D puts up a stand. However, they take some time off the clock. Ravens still need to score twice in nearly eight minutes. That will not be easy.
11:25 – Devin McCourty bails out Flacco’s 1975 long ball to Torrey Smith…or did he? A phantom holding penalty is called.
11:27 – Well, you knew this was coming…
11:30 – Another holding, and eventually the mistakes come to roost. Touchdown Torrey Smith with four minutes left.
PATRIOTS 30, RAVENS 28
11:31 – Regardless of what happens, it’d be great if the players can decide this and not some nonsensical penalty.
11:36 – No man’s land here for the Pats. Need to kill clock but get first downs. Don’t have that type of running game…
11:39 – These refs are great. Unsportsmanlike conduct on the Ravens’ bench. Baltimore is doing Baltimore things in the clutch again.
11:43 – Brady is sacked on second down near midfield. He had no chance on that play. Two-minute warning.
11:45 – Scratch that. Ravens called timeout. 3rd and a billion. Two incomplete pass plays. Not much the Pats could do there.
11:46 – Yup.
11:47 – Only thing missing in this game is Ted DiBiase walking around, waving Ben Franklins at the refs.
11:49 – Ravens attacking the left side of the Patriots D. Already in New England territory…
11:50 – Joe Flacco almost throws a game-ending INT. However, Kyle Arrington falls down.
11:51 – Moments later, a DPI on Devin McCourty inside the 10.
11:52 – That’s your ball game.
11:53 – Ravens line up for the game-winner….
11:54 – Baltimore wins it…barely. FG looked good to me.
FINAL: RAVENS 31, PATRIOTS 30
12:00 – BB grabbed a ref on the way out…News at 11.
SUMMARY: Baltimore will probably puff their chest out over this but they needed to win this game without a doubt. If they want to win the AFC, they’ll need to beat New England at some point. Now, it may be on their turf. Meanwhile, New England will rebound.
Ultimately, this game gives Baltimore the confidence that if there are replacement refs still around in January, that should work in their favor.