Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Final drive a common decider of Patriots vs. Ravens


High tension and short fingernails are prevalent in the fourth quarter when it's the New England Patriots vs. the Baltimore Ravens. Just ask Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich.

Since his arrival to the team in 2009, Ninkovich has faced the Ravens on five separate occasions, with an overwhelming majority of those matchups ending in dramatic fashion. (photo: Jeffrey Beall, Flickr)

Four of those contests were decided by less than a touchdown, which is what Ninkovich believes to be the fuel behind the teams’ rivaled history.

“I think it comes down to the last drive. One or two possessions throughout the whole game that really affect the outcome of the game,” Ninkovich told reporters Monday. “If you look back at every game that we have had it has come down to the end and it is one or two possessions throughout the game that really affect the outcome.

"So ball security and creating turnovers is something that is really going to go a long way in this game.”

Their first meeting this season was no exception, as Baltimore clawed back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter only to win on a last-second field goal. Before that, it was New England besting Baltimore in the fourth quarter of last year’s AFC Championship game, taking a three-point lead in the fourth and watching as kicker Billy Cundiff shanked a 32-yarder with seconds remaining to end the game.

In their Week 3 matchup, there was only one turnover combined between both teams — a Joe Flacco interception that led to a Patriots touchdown and a two-score lead. Players from both sides seemed to downplay on Monday how much Week 3’s outcome was still on their minds, but the overwhelming consensus seemed to be that neither side was expecting a run-away victory on Sunday.

“They know how to play us well. They compete and play the game the right way,” New England special teams captain Matthew Slater said. “That’s why they’ve had so much success over the past several years and it’s been no different against us. They’ve played us well every time we’ve played them, so we expect it to be the same kind of game this week.”

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