Ravens edge Patriots with late field goal
Baltimore takes 31-30 win in rematch of 2011 AFC title game
Torrey Smith turned in an emotional — and sensational — performance under very difficult circumstances.
His teammates on the Baltimore Ravens helped make it a winning effort.
Rookie Justin Tucker kicked a 27-yard field goal as time expired, giving the Ravens a 31-30 victory over the New England Patriots on Sunday night in a rematch of the AFC championship game.
Smith started and scored two touchdowns for the Ravens, less than 24 hours after his younger brother was killed in a motorcycle accident late Saturday night. Smith left the team shortly after midnight Sunday but returned in time for warmups. The second-year wide receiver finished with six catches for 127 yards.
"It was tough, emotionally," Smith said. "I didn't know how I would hold up.
"It means a lot not just for us but for my family. … That's for my little brother."
A moment of silence was observed before the game for Smith's brother, 19-year-old Tevin Jones.
When the teams met in January, the Patriots squeezed out a three-point win at home to advance to the Super Bowl. The stakes weren't nearly as high in this one, yet the game was eerily similar.
In the previous meeting, Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal in the closing seconds. In the encore, Tucker — who took the job away from Cundiff in training camp — drove his kick just inside the right upright.
The game-winning kick followed a pass interference call against Devin McCourty on Jacoby Jones.
As the officials were leaving the field, Patriots coach Bill Belichick grabbed one of them by the arm. He didn't pursue as the official continued to run off the field.
Baltimore (2-1) won its 12th straight at home behind Joe Flacco, who went 28 for 39 for 382 yards and three touchdowns.
Tom Brady completed 28 of 41 passes for 335 yards and a score for the Patriots (1-2), who fell below .500 for the first time since Week 1 of 2003.
Replacement officials marked off 24 penalties, including 14 against Baltimore. Both Ravens coach John Harbaugh and Belichick spent much of the night yelling at the officiating crew.
Wes Welker had eight catches for 142 yards and Brandon Lloyd caught nine passes for 108 yards for the Patriots, who fell to 6-1 against the Ravens in the regular season — 7-2 including the playoffs.
Down 20-14, the Ravens opened the second half with an 80-yard drive that ended with a 7-yard touchdown run by Ray Rice. Brady matched that with an 80-yard drive of his own, repeatedly picking on cornerback Cary Williams, before Danny Woodhead scored on a 3-yard run to put New England ahead.
Stephen Gostkowski kicked his third field goal to make it 30-21 with 14:10 remaining.
Smith caught a 5-yard touchdown pass with 4:01 left to get the Ravens to 30-28. Flacco went 6 for 7 for 76 yards in the 92-yard drive.
After a New England punt, Baltimore executed the game-winning drive in the final 2 minutes.
New England took a 13-0 lead before the Ravens got their initial first down. Then, after Baltimore went up 14-13, Brady engineered a frantic touchdown drive at the end of the first half to put the Patriots back in front.
Welker, who came in with only eight catches in two games, played a key role for New England in the opening minutes. He recovered a fumble by Brady on the Patriots' second play, and on New England's second series Welker broke loose on the left sideline for a 59-yard completion that set up a 37-yard field goal.
The long pass to Welker pushed Brady into 12th place on the career yardage list, past Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana (40,551).
On the first play following the kickoff, Steve Gregory intercepted a pass by Flacco and took it 36 yards to the Baltimore 6. On third down, rookie Brandon Bolden ran in from the 2 for his first NFL touchdown.
Late in the first quarter, Gostkowski kicked a 49-yard field goal for a 13-0 lead.
After two three-and-outs and an interception, Flacco found his rhythm the fourth time he got the ball.
Flacco moved the Ravens 82 yards in 13 plays in a drive culminated by a 25-yard touchdown pass to Smith. Then, after a New England punt, Baltimore covered 92 yards in eight plays. The capper was a 20-yard TD pass to tight end Dennis Pitta, who hurdled Gregory inside the 10 before completing his romp into the end zone.
Brady answered with a touchdown pass of his own to Julian Edelman with two seconds left to cap an 81-yard, beat-the-clock march.