The Ravens knocked off the Steelers in Pittsburgh to kick off their postseason schedule and earn themselves a trip to New England to face the Patriots.
Their return will call to mind three past postseason matchups between the teams at Gillette Stadium. The Ravens won two of those games, including the AFC title game after the 2012 season, and would have won all three if Lee Evans held onto a ball in the end zone in the previous year’s conference championship.
Those games have left the Patriots with some bad memories of visits from Baltimore in January, although quarterback Tom Brady says that any familiarity between the two sides is outweighed by the changes to the rosters over the last two years.
“Everything’s different at this point,” Brady said on WEEI. “We can never change anything that’s happened in the past, nor can they. You can’t bring players out of retirement, they can’t either. It’s the guys we’ve got vs. the guys they’ve got, which that’s an entirely new team that we have and an entirely new team that they have. There’s some carryover, there’s some characteristics that are the same, but these teams have established their own identities. It’s going to be the Patriots’ 2014 version vs. the Ravens’ 2014 version and we go from there. We’ll be able to evaluate some stuff scheme-wise that they could possibly do vs. us, that’s always helpful. But it will be determined by what happens on the field Saturday night, not anything that’s happened in the past.”
The Patriots didn’t have tight end Rob Gronkowski or cornerback Darrelle Revis on the field the last time that they faced the Ravens in the postseason and those two names illustrate how different things are for the Patriots this time around. The Ravens aren’t likely to be cowed by their presence — John Harbaugh hasn’t gone 7-4 on the road in the playoffs by coaching teams easily thrown off their games — and that should make for another round of good football between the playoff rivals.