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Patriots defeat Ravens to reach first Super Bowl since 2008

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"Those guys fought all year, and just like today, it wasn’t always perfect, but they fought to the final gun and we came out on top," Belichick said.

Defense was particularly dominant early on — New England’s 31st-ranked defense. The Patriots held Baltimore to minus-4 yards on its first three first-down runs and forced the Ravens to go three-and-out each time. Meanwhile, the Patriots put together a methodical 13-play, 50-yard drive helped greatly by an illegal contact penalty on Lardarius Webb that negated a tipped interception by Bernard Pollard.

At a glance

Baltimore 20, New England 23

Baltimore 0 10 10 0 — 20

New England 3 10 3 7 — 23

First Quarter

NE » FG Gostkowski 29, 5:49.

Second Quarter

Bal » FG Cundiff 20, 14:21.

NE » Green-Ellis 7 run (Gostkowski kick), 10:35.

Bal » Pitta 6 pass from Flacco (Cundiff kick), 6:03.

NE » FG Gostkowski 35, 3:00.

Third Quarter

NE » FG Gostkowski 24, 9:06.

Bal » T.Smith 29 pass from Flacco (Cundiff kick), 3:38.

Bal » FG Cundiff 39, :50.

Fourth Quarter

NE » Brady 1 run (Gostkowski kick), 11:29.

Attendance » 68,756.

Bal NE

First downs 19 25

Total Net Yards 398 330

Rushes-yards 31-116 31-96

Passing 282 234

Punt Returns 1-4 3-7

Kickoff Returns 1-20 3-101

Interceptions Ret. 2-39 1-19

Comp-Att-Int 22-36-1 22-36-2

Sacked-Yards Lost 3-24 1-5

Punts 4-43.8 2-48.5

Fumbles-Lost 1-0 2-1

Penalties-yards 6-33 1-5

Time of Possession 33:33 26:27

Individual Statistics

Rushing » Baltimore, Rice 21-67, Flacco 4-27, R.Williams 6-22. New England, Green-Ellis 15-68, Woodhead 6-18, Hernandez 3-9, Brady 6-2, Edelman 1-(minus 1).

Passing » Baltimore, Flacco 22-36-1-306. New England, Brady 22-36-2-239.

Receiving » Baltimore, Boldin 6-101, Pitta 5-41, T.Smith 3-82, Evans 3-39, Dickson 2-23, Leach 2-9, Rice 1-11. New England, Hernandez 7-66, Welker 6-53, Gronkowski 5-87, Branch 2-18, Edelman 1-8, Woodhead 1-7.

Missed Field Goals » Baltimore, Cundiff 32 (WL).

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But Brady was sacked for the first time by Paul Kruger and Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 29-yard field goal.

Late in the first quarter, the Ravens changed tactics after Webb did pick off a pass intended for Julian Edelman at the Baltimore 30. Flacco rolled right on first down and threw deep down the sideline to a wide-open Smith. Had the pass not been short, Smith likely would have sprinted into the end zone. Instead, it was a 42-yard gain, not bad at all given Baltimore’s previous ineptitude with the ball.

Cundiff’s 20-yard field goal momentarily tied it.

Brady, perhaps peeved by his poor throw that Webb picked off, hit two passes for 29 yards on a 75-yard drive to make it 10-3. BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for 36 yards on that series, and also drew a personal foul against Webb, who ripped off the running back’s helmet on a short rush. Green-Ellis surged into the end zone from the 7, then pointed to the patch on his jersey honoring Myra Kraft, the late wife of Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

Going back to the pass, the Ravens tied it on a 6-yard throw to Pitta — yes, Baltimore has some dangerous tight ends, too — that concluded an 80-yard march. Flacco opened the drive with a 20-yard completion to Evans and then Anquan Boldin escaped Arrington’s attempted tackle to gain 37 more yards on a reception. Flacco was finding holes in New England’s coverage, particularly when he moved out of the pocket.

New England’s All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski made an error at the end of a 63-yard drive, failing to keep two feet in bounds on a catch. Gostkowski’s 35-yard field goal made it 13-10.

Gronkowski left for a while with a left leg problem, but soon returned.

"It’s a real credit to the players," Belichick said. "I am real happy they will get to play in this game."

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