Things looked bleak for a long while on Saturday night, as the Patriots trailed the Ravens 14-0 and then 28-14. But Tom Brady settled into form and Julian Edelman shouldered some of the quarterbacking responsibilities, and New England held on for the 35-31 win to get back to the AFC Championship Game.
But the matchup wasn't without controversy; Ravens coach John Harbaugh complained that the Pats were using deception when they made it unclear who their ineligible receivers were while using unconventional formations that clearly confused Baltimore's defense. Harbaugh drew a 15-yard penalty on the play for running onto the field, but he later explained that the penalty was intentional so he could get the officials' attention for an explanation.
The Patriots broke no rules and weren't the beneficiary of suspect officiating, and after the game, Brady suggested that the Ravens study the rule book. By Monday, he had slightly softened his tone.
"Let me say first, I have a lot of respect for him as a coach and obviously that team is one of the toughest teams we face. It's always a tough matchup," he told WEEI.
"It was a play that we liked and we thought would work. We had a couple versions of it. It's kind of an alert play for our team and we made them figure out what to do. I think that's what it looked like to me. We had to execute it, we had to make the appropriate calls and block it, and make the plays, and I was proud of us. That was a good weapon for us.
"That's part of football. You have to prepare for everything."