FOXBOROUGH – Ray Lewis vs. Tom Brady, for the right to go to the Super Bowl.
It may not have the allure of Peyton Manning vs his arch-nemesis, but none the less, a football fan’s dream come true.
In Lewis, you have the rugged, outspoken and ultra-competitive linebacker, who is in pursuit of his second Super Bowl ring going against this generation’s Joe Montana in Brady, whom looks like he stepped out of a GQ photo shoot, and is in pursuit of his fourth.
With the leaders of two teams in both Baltimore and New England, we may be seeing the last time these two living legends on the same gridiron and one of the burgeoning rivalries in the NFL cut short.
Both teams couldn’t be more different, in Baltimore you have a team built on the foundation of ball-hawking defense and ferocious tackling, while Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and Anquan Boldin give them a touch of being a big-play offense, they cannot –nor very few teams—can go toe-to-toe with the Patriots on the offensive side of the ball.
In New England, you have a team built around a the precision high-tempo spread offense led by Brady and shifty wide receivers in Wes Welker and Pro Bowl tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
What makes this Patriots team different from the ones that would lose in both 2007 and 2012 to the arch-nemesis New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI and XLII , is the threat of an actual running game in the form of Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen.
Going into Sunday’s matchup, there has been a lot of talk about whether or not Baltimore can beat the Patriots in Foxborogh a second time, and considering the mutual respect and loathing for the other, it could very well be possible.
The question that still needs to be answered is whether or not the Ravens and Patriots are rivals, or even have a “rivalry”
Since 1996, the Ravens and Patriots have faced each other nine times, and have split their last four meetings. Brady is 5-2 all-time vs the Ravens, but Baltimore—to it’s credit—has managed to get under the skin of the unusually unflappable and cool-headed Brady.
The game that would really set the tone was in 2007 in Baltimore in which the Patriots would win 27-24 over a disputed holding call gave the Patriots new life, the memorable image from the game would be then-Ravens linebacker—and current Jets—linebacker Bart Scott throwing a referee’s flag into the stands in protest.
Baltimore would get it’s revenge in the 2009 AFC Wildcard Round with a 33-14 upset of the Patriots in Foxborough, before the Patriots would even the score with a dramatic 23-20 win over the Ravens in the 2012 AFC Championship Game, thanks to a Sterling Moore strip of Lee Evans and a missed Billy Cundiff field goal that would sail wide left.
This past season, the Ravens would defeat the Patriots 31-30, 24 hours after the brother of Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith dying in a motorcycle accident.
Smith would go on to catch six passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
While the Ravens-Pats matchup doesn’t have the trash talk and bravado of the Rex Ryan and the New York Jets, Brendon Ayanbadejo’s recent comments on Twitter about the Patriot’s “gimmick” offense and Spygate, may rile up many outside of Foxborough, but the Patriots are too well disciplined to fall into the trap of pre-game comments.
If their past games are any indication, both Baltimore and New England will settle their feelings on the field.
Robert D. Cobb is the Founder/CEO/Senior Editor-In-Chief Of The Inscriber : Digital Magazine, for questions, comments and concerns email me at [email protected]and follow the Inscriber : Digital Magazine on Twitter at @TheInscriber