Ravens to renew rivalry with Patriots in primetime
— A rivalry that has provided NFL audiences with numerous big games over the past decade will be re-kindled on national television on Monday night when the Baltimore Ravens travel to face the New England Patriots in a late-season showdown between a pair of AFC playoff contenders.
The rivalry, which reached its peak in 2011-12, when both teams clashed in back-to-back AFC championships, has been dormant for the past two seasons. The two organizations last battled in the 2014 divisional round, when the Patriots overcame a pair of twotouchdown deficits to beat the Ra-
vens en route to an eventual Super Bowl title.
“That’s something that we’ve been honored enough to be in some big games against them over the years,” nine-year Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said Monday. “We feel like that’s a place we want to be, and we’re excited about the opportunity.”
New England head coach Bill Belichick, whose team owns a 5-3 edge over Baltimore since the Ravens hired Harbaugh in 2008, shared a similar opinion during a Wednesday conference call with Baltimore media.
“It’s a great, competitive situation. Both teams have a solid tradition, we’ve played very competitive games against each other. We’ve won some, they’ve won some, it’s gone back and forth a little bit,” Belichick said. “I have great respect for the people, for the organization, for [Ravens owner] Steve [Bisciotti] and for the competition that our two organizations have.”
The Ravens (7-5), currently .5 games back of the Pittsburgh Steelers for first place atop the AFC North, will take the field having won four of their last five games, including a recent 38-6 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Patriots (10-2) can clinch an eighthstraight playoff berth with a win.
“We like the fact that we’re in [the playoff hunt]. We like the fact that we’re in a fight for the division championship. That’s our first goal—the starting point of everything we try do to accomplish one week at at a time,” Harbaugh said. “Now we have our toughest challenge. We’re going to need to play our best football on Monday night up in New England to win that football game. We do believe we have a chance to do that based on where we’re at right now. That’s what we’re shooting for.”
Two of Baltimore’s three victories over the Patriots during the Harbaugh era have come at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., including a 33-14 win in the 2010 Wild Card round and a 2813 triumph in the 2012 AFC title game that propelled the Ravens to Super Bowl XLVII.
While Monday’s contest won’t have a Super Bowl berth on the line, the stakes remain high as both teams position themselves for a postseason run.
“The Ravens are a really good football team, they’re playing very well in all three phases of the game and they have a lot of great players, very well coached and they’re a very disciplined team that’s physically and mentally tough. They do a lot of things well and they’re very hard to beat,” Belichick said. “It looks like they’re playing their best football at this time of year at the right time.”
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman is pushed out of bounds by Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith following a first down reception during the second half of their game in Baltimore on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013.