This time, Brady ran for the first down himself, but on another fourth-down attempt, a failed pass to Benjamin Watson, the Ravens were called for holding, giving New England a fresh set of downs from the 8.
With 55 seconds to play, Brady connected with Jabar Gaffney in the corner of the end zone. The score was upheld on review. After the game, the Ravens cried foul, believing the officials gave the game to the Patriots.
The Patriots won again on Oct. 4, 2009, at Gillette, though Suggs had a strip-sack of Brady deep in New England territory that teammate Dawan Edwards fell on in the end zone for a touchdown that cut the Patriots’ lead to 17-14. New England answered and went on to win, 27-21.
The only blowout for either side came later that season in the wild-card round of the playoffs. Ravens running back Ray Rice scored on an 83-yard run on the first play from scrimmage. On the Patriots’ first possession, Suggs struck again, strip-sacking Brady in New England territory and giving the ball to his offense at the 17; Brady also was intercepted twice in the first quarter. Baltimore was up, 24-0, early and cruised to a 33-14 win.
The teams met in the 2010 regular season, the Patriots coming back from a 20-10 deficit early in the fourth quarter to force overtime, winning, 23-20, on a 35-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski.
The drama of last year’s conference title game is well known, with Sterling Moore twice denying potential winning touchdowns, and then Baltimore’s Billy Cundiff missing a 32-yard field goal wide left.
A field goal came into play earlier this season in Baltimore; after five lead changes, the Ravens won on a last-second kick from rookie Justin Tucker. The finish wasn’t the only reason the game was controversial: There were 24 penalties called by the replacement officials, and there was a question of whether Tucker’s final kick actually went through the uprights.
As everyone who will be involved has noted, there is nothing easy and no lack of drama when these teams meet.