In a fifth quarter that winded down to the two-minute warning, all of these things contributed to the Patriots' 23-20 come-from-behind win, a mid-season moral victory:
- Zoltan Mesko punts a 65-yard bomb down the field to vanquish Ravens from field-goal territory. Read about it in the Boston Globe.
- Wide receiver Deion Branch (9-98 receiving, the most catches in a game since his rookie year) converts from third down by completing a 10-yard pass. Read about the Brady-Branch chemistry on ESPNBoston.com and in the Boston Herald.
- That sets up Stephen Gostkowski's 35-yard field goal to clinch the overtime win. More on this in the Boston Herald.
- Yet none of these things would have happened had Vince Wilfork not united his young defense to force the Baltimore offense into five consecutive punts, the last three occurring in that crucial fifth quarter.
A fledgling defense, in some respects, that's been beaten up by both opposing teams' offenses and the scrutinizing media certainly had its confidence issues, but the more experienced and inspirational Wilfork rallied his guys.
"I told our guys, 'Don't worry about the scoreboard," Wilfork told ESPNBoston.com. "It was, 'One play a time. We'll be all right.' We all make mistakes. But when it really matters, what did you do? I'm not sure exactly what we did, but I know this much: We did it as a unit."
"This win was a huge confidence builder," Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington admitted. "We're young. We had a couple of plays we wish we could have back -- me in particular.
"But now we come out with a win and it makes you believe what Vince had been telling us the whole game: 'Good teams make good plays.'"
Arrington, who had been left in Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin's dust on a 25-yard touchdown pass, which extended Baltimore's lead 17-7 in the third quarter, let go of his regulation baggage by the sage words of the Patriots nose tackle to shut down Flacco and the Ravens O in OT.
"Some of these young guys, they don't understand Bill Belichick that well," Wilfork explained. "If they made a mistake I told them, 'Forget about it.' Sometimes guys need to hear that."
"We stepped up when we needed to step up. All year on third down, we've had problems in that area. Then, something went off and we basically turned it around. It's third down and we get off the field. Once we can get off the field, we're a totally different defense... Now everybody understands how important third down is. Something that small, you know?" Read more postgame quotes from Wilfork on ESPN's New England Patriots Blog.
Read game recaps in the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald and on ESPNBoston.com. Also get key plays from the game in the Globe. And read about how Patriots running back/wide receiver Danny Woodhead snuck up on the Ravens in the Boston Herald.