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Disputed last-second field goal pushes Ravens past Pats

The SportsXchange

BALTIMORE -- Nearly eight months to the day after the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots squared off in a fiercely competitive game that was decided by a Baltimore field-goal attempt, the same script played out Sunday night at M&T Bank Stadium.

The last meeting between these two teams came in the AFC Championship Game, and it saw the Patriots emerge with a 23-20 win after a missed Billy Cundiff field goal late in the fourth quarter.

The stakes weren't nearly as high Sunday, but this time, the Ravens converted a last-second field-goal attempt by rookie Justin Tucker and beat the Patriots 31-30.

"There's a lot of emotion, there's a lot of history between these two teams," Tucker said. "It's just one of those things that you accept, and you've really just got to embrace it and embrace it in the moment."

Tucker's 27-yard attempt found its way just inside the right upright as time expired, giving the Ravens (2-1) a dramatic comeback win in a back-and-forth game that saw plenty of controversial calls from the officials.

One of those controversial calls came on Tucker's field goal, as Patriots coach Bill Belichick felt the kick had gone wide right. He ran onto the field and grabbed an official, which likely will draw a fine from the NFL office.

"I'm not going to comment about that," Belichick said. "You saw the game. What did we have, 30 penalties called in that game?"

Actually, 25 penalties were flagged (one was declined), and many of the calls drew exasperated reactions from players and coaches. Even with all the whistles, the teams combined to put up 899 total yards of offense.

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco completed 28 of 39 passes for 382 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Wide receiver Torrey Smith had six receptions for 127 yards and two scores the day after his younger brother, Tevin, died after a motorcycle accident.

Smith went to Virginia early Sunday morning to be with his family before rejoining the Ravens. The Ravens had a moment of silence before the game in Tevin's memory, and coach John Harbaugh said the team dedicated the victory to the Smith family.

"It was tough emotionally," Smith said. "I didn't know how I'd hold up, but thanks to my teammates and coaches and all the support from everyone around the league, just everyone, everywhere."

Tom Brady hit 28 of 41 passes for 335 yards and a touchdown for the Patriots, who dropped their second straight game and fall to 1-2. Wes Welker had 142 receiving yards, and Brandon Lloyd added 108 receiving yards.

In a back-and-forth affair, the Patriots jumped on top 13-0 early and had a nine-point lead with just over 14 minutes remaining, but they could not hold on.

The Ravens stormed back with 10 unanswered fourth-quarter points, getting a five-yard TD pass from Flacco to Smith with just over four minutes left, then Tucker's field goal on the final play.

A 24-yard completion from Flacco to Jacoby Jones on the first play of the game-winning drive got the Ravens moving, and Baltimore benefitted from a pass-interference call on cornerback Devin McCourty that moved the ball to the New England 7-yard line and set up the Tucker kick.

"In the moment, you're thinking, 'Good job, defense, for getting us the opportunity,'" Flacco said. "I think that first completion is always a big one, and we were able to do that (and) keep it rolling from there."

New England opened the scoring midway through the first quarter on Stephen Gostkowski's 37-yard field goal, which capped off an eight-play, 71-yard drive. On the next play from scrimmage, Flacco was picked off by Patriots safety Steve Gregory, who returned the pick 36 yards to the Baltimore 6-yard line.

Three plays later, Brandon Bolden punched in a 2-yard touchdown run, giving the Patriots a 10-0 lead, and a 49-yard field goal by Gostkowski made it a 13-0 edge.

The Ravens battled back from a slow offensive start with two Flacco touchdown passes in the span of eight minutes, the a 23-yard touchdown strike to Smith and a 20-yard connection to tight end Dennis Pitta.

Brady responded with an 81-yard drive, connecting with Julian Edelman on a 7-yard touchdown pass to allow New England to retake the lead, 20-14, just before the half.

NOTES: Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was inactive for the game because of an ankle injury. ... Former Patriots safety James Ihedigbo was one of the Ravens' captains. Ihedigbo was signed by the Ravens just prior to Week 1.
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