In New England on Monday morning, in the wake of the Ravens' dominating, 28-13 win in the AFC Championship Game, there seemed to be a collective sense of shock. Teams simply don't walk into Foxborough, kick the Patriots in the teeth and walk out with a win. Not in the AFC title game, where the Patriots had been 4-0 at home. Yet that's pretty much exactly what happened.
Here's how some New England media saw the game that delivered the Ravens their second Super Bowl berth:
Tom E. Curran, CSN New England
"The Patriots kept putting it off, putting it off, putting it off and biding their time. Then slowly, imperceptibly, momentum changed because of New England’s inaction and the realization struck that, oops, time’s up.
The Patriots didn’t hand the Ravens this game... No, this AFC Championship loss was more about a failure to seize. And you could almost feel it building. A first quarter the Patriots dominated ended with them ahead 3-0.
Hmm. Not gonna get away with that all night. Better finish some of those drives and cash in on that outstanding field position....
A touchdown to start the fourth for Baltimore. A fumble by Stevan Ridley on a knockout hit by Bernard Pollard. Another touchdown four plays later and it was 28-13.
Too late? Too late. The tide had turned and it was doing what the tide will do -- engulfing the Patriots. Suddenly, a team that hadn’t lost by double-digits since the 2010 season -- a span of 44 games -- was on the ropes and in trouble.
The realization took hold. The Patriots ship had sailed for 2012."
Karen Guregian, Boston Herald
"The Patriots won’t be heading to New Orleans for a rematch with the San Francisco 49ers in two weeks. It will be the Ravens, who proved better at every turn during last night’s 28-13 AFC Championship win over the Pats. ...
After having endless praise heaped on them all week with respect to their no-huddle attack and Brady’s mastery of running it, the Pats didn’t do much at all in the hurry-up. They may have hurried down the field as usual in up-tempo mode, but they stalled without points. Once again coming up against a rough, tough, physical defense, they had trouble scoring, and were shut out in the second half ...
Some of the Ravens couldn’t wait to rub it in. They couldn’t wait to brag about taking out Belichick and Brady. They couldn’t wait to talk about how the much-maligned Joe Flacco outplayed Brady. He threw for three touchdowns and didn’t have an interception.
Brady, meanwhile, was left to answer for failing to deliver..."
Jeff Howe, Boston Herald
"The quest for a fourth Super Bowl has again been put on hold. The chance for Tom Brady to match Joe Montana’s ring count in harmonious fashion against the 49ers wasn’t to be. ...
The Patriots just didn’t have it, the loss filled with harrowing missed tackles, empty possessions in scoring territory and two Wes Welker drops on third down. The Patriots invaded Ravens territory nine times but hardly finished the job with one touchdown, two field goals, two interceptions, one turnover on downs and three punts. ...
The Ravens bombarded the Patriots with three consecutive touchdowns in the second half, and they methodically deconstructed a strolling Pats defense. The Ravens scored on drives of 10, 10 and four plays, and they only reached third down once, which displayed how easy it was to dink and dunk their way against the mismatches of their choosing."
Matt Pepin, Boston.com
"The Baltimore Ravens saw the trepidation, the uncertainty, the confusion. And what they sensed most from the Patriots in the darkness at Gillette Stadium on Sunday night was something we have not witnessed for a very long time.
And so it ends this time the way it has ended many times before in recent years, with the Patriots succumbing to a tougher, more physical team in the late stages of the NFL postseason. ...
No excuses this Monday, Patriots fans. No talk of Rob Gronkowski's arm, of Aqib Talib's hamstring, of Chandler Jones' ankle. Baltimore has had more than its share of issues this year. The Ravens still came into Foxborough on Sunday, shook the Patriots' hands at the coin toss, then punched New England squarely in the face.
And the Patriots just took it."