Pats win division, then deck RavensBy BEN STANDIG
The Sports Xchange
December 22. 2013 10:59PM
BALTIMORE — Quarterback Tom Brady passed for 172 yards and a touchdown, running back LeGarrette Blount rushed for two scores, and the Patriots' defense dominated throughout as New England defeated the Baltimore Ravens 41-7 Sunday.
New England (11-4) clinched its fifth consecutive AFC East title before kickoff thanks to the Miami Dolphins' 19-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills earlier in the day.
The Patriots scored on three straight possessions in the first half, including first-quarter touchdowns by Blount (1-yard run) and Shane Vereen (4-yard pass from Brady).
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski booted field goals in the second and third quarters as the Patriots took a 20-0 lead. New England's defense held the Ravens (8-7) to 71 total yards in the first half, generated four turnovers and scored two touchdowns inside the final two minutes.
Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco played despite suffering a mild knee injury last week, and he finished 22 of 38 for 262 yards with two interceptions.
Including last week's field goal-heavy win over the Detroit Lions, Baltimore went more than seven quarters without a touchdown until Flacco's 1-yard scoring dive with 9:21 remaining. Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan intercepted Flacco twice.
In the fourth quarter, New England defensive end Chandler Jones recovered a botched snap in the end zone for a touchdown, and Patriots defensive back Tavon Wilson returned an interception 74 yards for the game's final score. Wilson picked off Ravens backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
Blount gained 76 yards on 16 carries, including touchdowns from 1 and 7 yards out. Brady completed 14 of 26 passes as New England won for the fourth time in five games.
The loss snapped Baltimore's four-game winning streak. The defending Super Bowl champions remain in contention for a wild-card berth, though they can no longer win the AFC North title.
The Ravens' regular-season finale is in Cincinnati against the division champion Bengals next Sunday.
Baltimore and New England met in the last two AFC Championship Games, with the Ravens advancing to and winning last season's Super Bowl.
The Ravens were stopped three times on downs in the second half, including on Ray Rice's run on fourth-and-1 from New England's 4-yard line late in the third quarter.
Kicker Justin Tucker, Baltimore's Week 15 hero, missed his only field-goal attempt from 37 yards. He converted each of his previous 33 attempts, including a 61-yard game-winner against the Detroit Lions.
Blount's first scoring run came immediately after the Ravens were penalized 34 yards for pass interference in the end zone.
On Baltimore's next drive, Ryan intercepted Flacco near midfield, hauling in a pass tipped by linebacker Dont'a Hightower.NOTES: Baltimore was penalized seven times for 65 yards before halftime, nine times for 83 yards in the game. ... Patriots RB Shane Vereen (groin) and Devin McCourty (head) suffered injuries in the second quarter. ... The Ravens defeated New England 31-30 at M&T Bank Stadium in September 2012. ... Patriots DE Chandler Jones faced his brother, Ravens DE Arthur Jones, for the third time in the NFL. ... New England closes the regular season against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.