The Patriots find themselves in their 7th AFC Championship game since the 2001 season, as they knocked off the Houston Texans 41-28 at Gillette Stadium yesterday.
Thanks to the Baltimore Ravens and their 2OT victory in Denver on Saturday night, the AFC Championship will be right here in Foxboro, where the Ravens beat the Patriots last January to go to the Super Bowl.
Well, they practically beat the Patriots, right? After Lee Evans
dropped the winning TD had the winning TD stripped from this hands and Billy Cundiff missed a chip shot field that would’ve sent the Ravens to the Super Bowl would have tied the game.
The Ravens will be back, hungry for revenge, and eager to have Ray Lewis’ final game be the Super Bowl in New Orleans. They can beat the Patriots, as some are eager to point out, and I wonder how much we’ll hear about whether it matters when you’ve lost to a team already in the regular season. We’ve already got one villain for the week, and there should be no shortage of storylines for the media to drool over.
Get all the coverage from yesterday’s win at PatriotsLinks.com. Meanwhile, here are a few items of note this morning:
What we learned: Get ready for latest chapter of rivalry with Ravens – Christopher Price touches on all the big points from yesterday and looks ahead.
Ninkovich picks good time for INT – Greg A Bedard looks at the Patriots defender once again making the big play. This column is a prime example of very good football writing. Great stuff.
Of course, the Globe also runs two clown columns today, one by Shaughnessy taking his victory lap, and the other by Gasper smugly saying “Time to up your game, Patriots.“ Terrible, terrible columns both.
Pats adjust to life without Gronk – The Patriots will be without tight end Rob Gronkowski for the reminder of their playoff run after he re-injured his arm yesterday, but Mike Reiss says that at least this season, the Patriots have experience playing without Gronk.
Patriots put mental toughness on display in win over Texans – While football simpletons like Gasper talk about how nothing yesterday should make you confident that the Patriots can win it all, others note that after the Patriots lost two of their big weapons – Gronkowski and Danny Woodhead, whom much of the gameplan going in had revolved around – they were able to completely adjust and still put up 41 points on an allegedly stout Houston defense. Tom E Curran looks at the Patriots stepping up, and at why the Ravens may have started talking already.
Speaking of Curran, he did have showdown with Shaughnessy (and Felger) on CSNNE yesterday. It’s worth a watch.
A couple of SI links:
Offensive outburst, meeting of legends set up conference finals – MMQB. The usual number of head-scratching statements and proclamations.
MEDIA CIRCUS – Among other things, Richard Deitsch’s media column looks at whether Brian Billick, who worked the Falcons/Seahawks game for FOX, should’ve disclosed that Atlanta coach Mike Smith is his brother-in-law.