Greg A Bedard of the Boston Globe writes about a key component of the Ravens offense, Ray Rice. Rice is in his fourth year out of Rutgers and led the league in net yards this season with 2,068. Rice is remembered around New England for his 159 yard, two touchdown game against the Patriots in the 2009 playoffs. He is also known around the league as the best offensive weapon on the Ravens roster. According to Kevin Coyle, a University of Massachusetts graduate and current defensive backs coach for Baltimore's divisional rival the Cincinnati Bengals, "You control Ray Rice, and you don't let them throw it over your head. It goes back to the old Marv Levy saying: 'What it takes to win is simple, but it's not easy.' To me, when you look at this team, it's very simple. You stop 27, and you don't let Torrey Smith or Lee Evans or [Anquan] Boldin run deep down the field and catch it over your head. Keep the ball in front of you and don't allow them to establish their run game."
Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald writes about the Patriots mental focus this week opposed to the week before the 33-14 playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens in 2009. That Patriot team had lost a number of team leaders to retirement and trades and had also just lost Wes Welker to injury. However this season, the Patriots are healthy, energized by young stars and playing for the late Myra Kraft.
Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com writes about why defensive back and former Pro Bowl corner back Devin McCourty has been a good fit at safety for the Patriots. "I would say Devin, like all of our guys, has some position flexibility," defensive backs coach Josh Boyer said. "I think he's worked very hard in the film room and on the practice field, trying to improve his techniques. Just from a position flexibility standpoint, we have a lot of guys that have done some of the stuff Devin is doing. Sterling [Moore] has had some position flexibility for us, as well as Patrick Chung. All of our guys back there, Kyle [Arrington] included in that mix, they're very aware of what's going on [in the overall defensive backfield] and it's whatever we feel is best for the team that week of who's going to be in what spot."
Christopher Price of WEEI.com writes about the Patriots no-huddle offense. During the regular season, the Patriots' offense was in the no-huddle about 22 percent of the time. In their Divisional Round playoff game last week that number went up to about 52 percent. "I think it was certainly something that helped us," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said after the game. "We had a couple no-huddle series there at the end of the second quarter (and) start of the third quarter in Denver, and we felt like that gave them a little trouble. And then today, it looked they lost a couple safeties, and I'm sure that didn't help the communication and we were able to pres it a bit. It seemed like we had an advantage so we tried to, like I said, continue to try to take advantage of it and try to press it a little bit."
Dan Duggan of the Boston Herald looks at his pick for this weekend's key match-up on the field. Patriots left tackle Matt Light (6-4, 305 lbs, 11 years experience) versus Ravens defensive end Terrell Suggs (6-3, 260 lbs., 9 years). The 29 year-old Suggs has the age and speed advantage while Light has the experience advantage. Light will have to contain Suggs so Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will have time to throw, while Suggs will have to get past Light to disrupt the timing of the Patriots' high-powered offense.
Jeff Howe of* NESN.com* writes about how injured Patriots safety Josh Barrett is still honoring the memory of former NFL player and Army member Pat Tillman. "I think the lasting legacy he had on me personally in my career was, 'Do more for others than you do for yourself. There are no shortcuts. Don't make excuses for anything, and live life to the fullest. And be willing to make sacrifices,'" Barrett said.
Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com writes about the rivalry that has existed between Tom Brady and Terrell Suggs in recent years. The two have showed mutual respect this week after their memorable feud following a Patriots win in Baltimore in 2010.
Tom Curran of CSNNE.com writes about recent comments from Ravens safety Ed Reed about his quarterback Joe Flacco. "I think Joe was kind of rattled a little bit by that defense," said Reed according to Mike Florio from ProFootballTalk.com. "They had a lot of guys in the box on him. And, I mean, they were getting to him. I think a couple times he needed to get rid of the ball. I don't know how much of the play calling, he could have made audibles or anything like that, checks or whatnot, man, but it just didn't look like he had a hold on the offense, you know, of times past. You know, it was just kind of like they was telling him to do, throw the ball or get it here, you know, get it to certain guys. And he can't play like that."
Peter King of SI.com writes about Patriots' tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. In the 16 games of the 2008 regular season, Patriots tight ends had 31 touches for 302 yards and two touchdowns. In a single game last Saturday, the divisional-round playoff against the Broncos, New England tight ends touched the ball 19 times for 261 yards and four TDs. "Yeah, tight end was always a rough spot for us," wide receiver Wes Welker said. "No more." Other members of the Patriots are taking notice to the tight ends as well. "These two guys are changing the game," says veteran guard Brian Waters, who played 11 seasons in Kansas City, nine of them alongside Tony Gonzalez, before signing with the Patriots as a free agent in 2011. "Greatest tight end of all time," Waters says of Gonzalez. "But it's different with these guys. It's difficult to match up with Gronk because of his blocking ability. He's basically a third tackle. And Hernandez is such an athlete. They've both got ridiculous hands. I think you're going to see teams scout tight ends a little differently now. Tight ends maybe that you thought would be fourth- or fifth-round picks before—maybe now you look at their talent a little differently because of what good athletes they are."
Ricky Doyle of NESN.com writes about a recent skit on the TV show Conan, where host Conan O'Brien spoofed John Parr's song "St. Elmo's Fire." The Parody included both Rob Gronkowski and Zoltan Mesko.