|Patrick Smith/Getty Images|
After going 3 and out to start the game, the Patriots rattled off 2 TD's and a field goal to give themselves a 17-0 cushion early. That was important in so many ways, as it gave the Patriots breathing room, and after tacking on a FG in the 3rd quarter, the Pats scored 3 touchdowns in the last few minutes, one offensive and 2 defensive. From a confidence standpoint, not having to fight back from a hole was a huge confidence builder and the Patriots never looked like losing control. And for us fans, it also meant we didn't have to worry about rising blood pressure this week, which was a nice change of pace I'm sure.
Joe Flacco did not look like the guy who just earned his big payday with a great Super Bowl Run, but this win came down to the offense getting off to a fast start and really taking the pressure off. It also means that the Ravens, who looked a lock to make the playoffs again until this loss, are now on the verge on being eliminated, which means the 2 teams that have been the most problematic for the Pats in the playoffs in past years (the Giants, who've been eliminated already, being the other) could wind up not being factors this year.
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