Rice set the tone for Ravens to win in New England

It was surprising to see the Ravens roll over the Patriots. I didn't expect that. Not in Foxboro. Not in the playoffs. But that's exactly what Baltimore did, running the ball 52 times and passing just 10 times. Bruising, physical football is the Ravens' calling card, and the beating started on the very first play.

Ray Rice's 83-yard touchdown is certainly deserving of the full Anatomy treatment, considering it's the longest run of his young career, the longest play for the Ravens all season, and the second-longest run in NFL postseason history.

There was no gimmick or trickery. The Patriots lined up with regular personnel in their base 3-4 defense, with nose tackle Vince Wilfork head-up on the center. The Ravens also went regular and ran an inside zone with two double teams, challenging the Patriots' run defense.

It was two of the league's bullies going toe-to-toe on the first snap, and the Ravens delivered a haymaker.

For Baltimore, the double-team blocks were outstanding, with critical plays being made by both guards. Ben Grubbs and Marshal Yanda helped secure the double-teams, and then aggressively attacked inside linebackers Jerod Mayo and Gary Guyton.

The key to the play was the intensity level of both teams. The Patriots' defense, collectively, did not attack the line of scrimmage as hard as the Ravens' offense fired out. The three defensive linemen weren't bad, but no one created a stalemate, pile, or penetration, while Mayo and Guyton didn't attack downhill hard enough.

Rice showed patience in letting the hole develop, and then showed speed bursting through it. As Rice said after the game, "It was a 'slow to, fast through' ... once you hit it, you gotta go."

After Rice broke through the line, deep safety Brandon Meriweather needed to make the tackle. As the last line of defense, Meriweather did not protect the end zone.

Rice said with a laugh, "I'm thinking if I get to the one, I'm coming out, so I'd better get in the end zone. ... I'm just being honest."

The Ravens only managed 185 yards on their next 61 plays of the game, but the damage was done and the tone was set. Baltimore was the bully on New England's turf, and the Ravens strong-armed the Patriots out of the playoffs.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.