Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pats expect plenty of downfield shots from Ravens


The New England Patriots' defensive backs will earn their paychecks Sunday.

New England will be up against one of the NFL's most prolific downfield passing attacks in the Baltimore Ravens, who the Patriots will host in the AFC Championship game. (photo: Au Kirk, Flickr)

“It is a big job this week to try and prevent that deep ball," Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib said Wednesday, via "They are on the same page right now with [quarterback Joe] Flacco. We have a lot of work to do this week.”

In two playoff games this year, Flacco has connected on five passing plays of 40 yards or more and 11 of 20 yards or more, with a 70-yard touchdown pass being the longest in the two games.

“They definitely take more shots than teams I have played against," Talib said. "Every game they are going to take their shots down the field.”

New England gave up five passing plays of 20 yards or more last week and surrendered a league-most 74 in the regular season. While the Patriots' defense has been tough in the red zone and has forced timely turnovers when needed, Flacco and his big-play attack will certainly take plenty of shots opposite a high-powered Tom Brady-led squad, if for no other reason than by necessity.

Ravens receiver Torrey Smith is a classic speedster, having averaged 17.4 yards a reception with a team-high eight touchdowns in the regular season. Anquan Boldin gained 14.2 yards a catch, and as we saw last week, Jacoby Jones can be a big threat deep on the outside.

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