Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reviews yesterday's game, which was played largely as advertised. Baltimore's starved offense did nothing, while the defense kept them in the game for almost three quarters.
Ron Borges of the Globe gives credit to the patchwork secondary, which was led by another solid performance from Rodney Harrison and a timely Randall Gay interception.
Globe columnist Bob Ryan was at Gillette Stadium yesterday, and checks in to remind fans to savor this magnificent Patriots team. "I mean, if football is your game, do you understand that you have hit the lottery? Stop worrying about whether the Patriots will win a third Super Bowl on the evening of Feb. 6, 2005," writes Ryan. "There are too many variables involved to start worrying about that. What you must do is emulate your favorite team and focus, not on the future, but on the here and now. Enjoy the moment, for, as they say, it truly does not get better than this."
Jim McCabe of the Globe reviews the shifting parts of the Patriots secondary, which included linebacker Don Davis playing safety, wide receiver Troy Brown at nickel back, and cornerback-turned-safety Eugene Wilson back starting at cornerback.
In his notebook, Cafardo reports on Rosevelt Colvin who shows up more and more each week as he returns to form from last year's horrific hip injury. Cafardo also updates the injury report and mentions Tom Brady's rise through the franchise record books.
Paul Harber of the Globe spotlights Corey Dillon, who was clearly the player of the game for the Patriots, pounding the ball through the league's top defense. "Figure it this way. Dillon ran 30 times for 123 muddy yards in yesterday's 24-3 victory over Baltimore at Gillette Stadium, giving him 1,121 yards for the season. He surpassed the 1,000-yard mark in just his 10th game. No Patriot has ever gotten there faster," writes Harber. "The game he missed, of course, is the only game the Patriots lost."
Frank Dell'Apa of the Globe reminds us not to overlook kicker Adam Vinatieri, who had another stellar day in conditions that were anything but ideal, nailing all three of his field goal attempts in the mud and rain.
Michael Felger of The Boston Herald reviews the game. "When the Ravens won the Super Bowl after the 2000 season, they told anyone who would listen that they had the best defense in history. Yesterday, it was the Pats who were dominant, holding the Ravens to eight first downs (three in the second half), 47 net passing yards and just three points," writes Felger.
Kevin Mannix of the Herald lauds linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who sealed yesterday's win with a forced fumble recovered for a touchdown by Jarvis Green. "He's durable. He's dependable. Need a big play, watch No. 54. Every week, he seems to make a play that leads to another victory," writes Mannix.
Karen Guregian of the Herald details the beating administered to the young Ravens quarterback, Kyle Boller. "Boller, however, didn't have a clue how to crack that secondary. Granted, the swirling wind and pouring rain played a factor in the second half, but Boller was just as ineffective in the first half when the conditions were much more benign," writes Guregian.
Michael O'Connor of the Herald reports on Vinatieri's day in the rain.
In his notebook, Felger reports Vice President of Player Personnel Scott Pioli, one of the league's most sought-after employees, has stated his desire to remain in New England through the end of his contract in 2006.
Rich Thompson of the Herald reviews the play of the two defenses. Both considered in the league's highest echelon of defenses, it was New England's unit that came through on Sunday. Then again, they didn't have Corey Dillon running at them.
Dan Ventura of the Herald details the defensive touchdown by Green, a play that represented the proverbial straw that broke the Ravens back.
Steve Conroy of the Herald visited the opposing locker room to check in with Ravens captain Ray Lewis, arguably the NFL's best defender. Though Lewis was disappointed with the loss, he was quick to offer his respect to the Patriots team-oriented attack.
Steve Buckley of the Herald opines on what has become a weekly story: the incredible impact of Dillon. "Amazing. The so-called bad apple did not, as things have happened, pollute the joint," writes Buckley. "Instead he has been a solid running back, sure, but, more surprisingly to some, so locked in to the Patriot Way that you'd swear he was on the field for both Super Bowl victories."
George Kimball of the Herald praises the play of Brady, who simply took care of the ball and guided the team to a conservative win. "Yesterday was the first game in nearly a year in which Brady hadn't thrown a touchdown pass, but it also marked the first time in an even longer stretch that the Patriots hadn't turned the ball over," writes Kimball.
Tom Curran provides game review in The Providence Journal.
Also in the Journal, Kevin McNamara reports on the Ravens post-game reactions. While many Ravens were quick to offer respect to the defending champions, they welcomed the possibility of a return date in the playoffs, especially considering they hung around for three quarters without Jamal Lewis, who led the league in rushing last season.
Curran and McNamara combine efforts on a notebook that includes a review of the sloppy field, as well as an update on the injury to Matt Lightand Dillon's statistical prowess.
Jim Donaldson of the Journal expresses his surprise that a month after the World Series ended, the Red Sox remain the city's chief topic for fodder. Surely the shock of the achievement still resonates throughout New England, but it also seems fans have become so accustomed to Patriot W's, that they are almost taking the success for granted.
Michael Parente of The Woonsocket Call notes the impressive run-defense the Patriots showcased yesterday. "By stopping the run on Sunday, the Patriots were able to shut down Baltimore's offense," Parente contends. "The Ravens scored their only points on a Matt Stover field goal in the closing seconds of the first half. After giving up 43 rushing yards in the first half, the Patriots made some adjustments and limited the Ravens to 34 down the stretch. If that trend continues over the remaining five games, the Patriots will be tough to beat."
Parente also reviews the game, asserting, "the worst possible conditions managed to bring out the best in the New England Patriots on Sunday at Gillette Stadium."
In The Hartford Courant, Alan Greenberg reviews the game.
Greenberg also features Dillon, who is 10-0 in 10 starts as a Patriot. "It was Dillon's sixth 100-yard rushing game of the season, and gave him a total of 1,121, his seventh 1,000-yard season. His career high was 1,435 with the Bengals in 2000," writes Greenberg. "On his first carry in this, his 10th game of the season, he went over 1,000 yards, the fastest a Patriots player has done that."
Mike Reiss of The MetroWest Daily News also features Dillon, contending the runner was well worth the second-round pick it cost to get him. Reiss also points out some single-season franchise records that come closer to falling with each Corey carry.
Reiss also reports from the Ravens locker room, echoing other reports of the Ravens respect. "The voices in the Baltimore Ravens locker room spoke clearly and with class," writes Reiss.
Lenny Megliola of the* Daily News*, clearly excited by yesterday's win, forecasts the rest of New England's schedule, and proclaims the team will run the table.
Tim Weisberg reviews the game for The Standard Times.
Dan Pires of the Times commends Vinatieri, who seems to only get better in difficult situations. "Vinatieri's performance yesterday, in perhaps the worst kind of conditions for a kicker or specialist (driving rain storm), only cemented his growing legend," writes Pires.
Weisberg and Pires provide a notebook in which they break down incentive bonuses Dillon has already earned, as well as those he can still earn. Also included is a look at the wide receivers, injuries, and recognition of the Patriots scoring in an NFL-record 19th consecutive game yesterday.
Mike Lowe provides game review in The Portland Press Herald.
Lowe also points to the Patriots impressive preparation as a key to the victory. "Bill Belichick is legendary for his game preparation. Apparently, that includes the weather as well. After Belichick's New England Patriots defeated the Baltimore Ravens 24-3 in a driving rain at Gillette Stadium, he said the team sometimes practices in the rain to learn how to do it," writes Lowe.
Ian Clark of The Union Leader provides his consistently informative post-game notebook, reviewing the game, explaining the roster moves, and handing out MVP honors to (who else?) Dillon.
Finally, on SportsIllustrated.com,Don Banks explains yesterday's game was exactly the kind the Patriots envisioned when they acquired Dillon. It is very likely that the Patriots will see another sloppy, wet, grind-em-out type game this season, perhaps in the playoffs. After all, neither Foxboro nor Pittsburgh boasts the kindest Januarys.