Here at Stat Box Stories, we traditionally play as the underdog (or as a favorite team) when we put together articles using sports video games. For this weekend’s NFL Conference Championship Games, the decision was made to introduce a new type of article: Both Sides Story. With the games of such importance this weekend, instead of playing the game once, each game was played twice: once as each team involved in the match-up. Both playthroughs had full stats recorded, along with screenshot and video highlights; read on to find out how the Both Sides Story played out for the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots in the 2013 AFC Championship Game!
Suffice it to say that the Ravens have no lack of motivating factors coming into this game; it’s a chance to keep the career of franchise staple Ray Lewis going, as well as the opportunity to reverse the result of this game from a year ago and book a trip to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII. Both teams struggled out of the gate in this playthrough, however, with the first quarter seeing a defensive battle with multiple sacks of each quarterback. At the end of the opening frame, Baltimore held a 6-0 lead on two field goals converted by rookie Justin Tucker.
The second quarter saw a bump in scoring, as the Patriots fought back to tie the game up on two Stephen Gostkowski field goals before the game’s first touchdown was scored. Ray Rice fought his way into the end zone from 6 yards out just past the two minute warning of the first half to put the Ravens up 13-6.
Just over a minute later, however, Tom Brady led a precise scoring drive which culminated with a 16-yard pass to Wes Welker which was originally ruled an incompletion in the back of the end zone; automatic review within the final two minutes, however, saw enough evidence to overturn the call on the field and determine that a tying touchdown had been scored to knot the game at 13-all heading into halftime.
The third quarter was all Baltimore; quite literally! The Ravens scored on their first two possessions, but they had to settle for field goals of 38 and 41 yards to extend their lead to 19-13. A poor kickoff return for New England had them in the shadow of their own end zone, and an unforgiving Ravens rush saw Tom Brady tackled in the scoring area for a safety and a 21-13 lead for Baltimore. The Ravens were able to turn the ensuing safety punt into good field position, setting up a 48-yard field goal for Justin Tucker to go up 24-13 heading into the fourth quarter.
With the home crowd recovering from the shock of the third quarter and an 11-point deficit, the Patriots had a speedy drive conclude with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Brady to reserve tight end Michael Hoomanawanui to draw the home side closer; their 2-point conversion attempt—a rush by Stevan Ridley—was stopped well short of the end zone, leaving the score at 24-19.
As more time came off the clock, the Patriots drove and found the end zone once again with 3:40 left in the game on another 16-yard pass from Brady, this time with Brandon Lloyd as the target. As with the touchdown late in the first half, this one was also close in the back of the end zone, initially ruled incomplete before a coach’s challenge saw this one reviewed and again overturned for a score. Though New England’s 2-point pass attempt fell incomplete, they had battled their way back in front by a single point.
On the next Ravens possession, Joe Flacco led his team across midfield and it appeared certain that another Justin Tucker field goal would allow the visitors to make up for the disappointment of a year ago and leave the field with a victory. A third down pass attempt, however, wound up in the hands of Aqib Talib, turning possession over; it would prove to be Baltimore’s last time with the ball, as the Patriots ran out the clock and held on for a wild comeback victory.
If the first playthrough of this game was the sort of instant classic that football fans have come to expect of the Ravens-Patriots rivalry, then the follow-up game was the sort of one-sided clunker that leaves people reaching for their television remote to find something more interesting to watch. It all began with a monstrous first quarter, where the Patriots opened the scoring on a 7-yard pass from Tom Brady to Wes Welker to go up 7-0.
Less than a minute later, Ray Rice was hit hard and lost the football; it came loose to Dont’a Hightower, who scooped it up and took it 37 yards to the end zone for a touchdown and a quick 14-0 lead for New England. The Patriots would complete a 21-point first quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run by Stevan Ridley late in the period.
The second quarter started off more quietly, but the end result was the same; another 21 points for the Patriots, with no scoring on Baltimore’s side. Amazingly, no points were scored until after the two minute warning. A 16-yard pass from Brady to Aaron Hernandez put the Patriots up 28-0, and an interception by Joe Flacco—one of 5 on the game—gave New England a short field to set up another 7-yard pass from Brady to Welker to go up 35-0. Another lost fumble by Baltimore gave the ball back to New England again, and with 19 seconds left in the opening half, the Patriots went up 42-0 on a 29-yard pass to Deion Branch.
Shocked at the halftime result, Baltimore finally came out and put points on the board as they began to pick off Brady’s passes in the second half. Unfortunately for Ravens fans, the two scores put up in the third quarter were field goals of 51 and 23 yards for Justin Tucker, leaving a 42-6 deficit going into the final quarter.
New England got their first points off the second half on a 23-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski with 5:11 left in the game, while Baltimore scored its first touchdown of the game on a 7-yard run just over two minutes later. The game’s result was long decided by that point, however, and a 23-yard field goal by Justin Tucker with 1:27 remaining served only to make the 45-16 score line look somewhat closer than the game actually played out.
At the quarterback position, results were one-sided across the two games. Tom Brady threw for a combined 619 yards with 7 touchdowns and 5 interceptions thanks to an erratic second half in the blowout victory. Joe Flacco amassed 467 yards with no touchdowns and 7 interceptions, snapping a streak of hot playoff performances and also success against the Patriots.
In the two games, only one running back had a 100-yard performance: Stevan Ridley on the Patriots, who carried 27 times for 109 yards under user control. Ray Rice scored two touchdowns over the games, but also had two fumbles in the blowout loss for Baltimore. Patriots receivers topped the 100-yard mark in both games; Wes Welker had 9 catches for 127 yards and a touchdown in the close game, while Aaron Hernandez had 8 catches for 169 yards and a touchdown in the second game. Welker scored 3 touchdowns over the two games.
The Patriots had more yards on offense in each game, though the first game was closer than the 434-291 advantage they held in the second game. Baltimore lost the turnover battle (2-1 and 7-5) in both games. In the first game, neither team had success on 3rd Down Conversions, with the Ravens going 3-for-12 and New England going 2-for-9; Baltimore struggled on this in the second game as well, going 3-for-9, while the Patriots had a slightly more respectable 5-for-10 number on conversions. Adding in kick and punt return yards, Baltimore held a 394-323 edge in total yards for the first game. Both teams were a perfect 4-for-4 in the Red Zone for the first game, but New England had three touchdowns and a field goal while Baltimore had a touchdown and three field goals. The Ravens converted all of their Red Zone trips in the second game, while the Patriots had 7 Red Zone trips with 4 touchdowns and a field goal.
Both playthroughs favor the Patriots making a return to the biggest game of the season, Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. Will this game bring Ray Lewis’ career to a close? Or will Tom Brady be left watching a different result when the game comes to a close this season? Comment to let us know who you think will emerge victorious at Gillette Stadium, and let us know the scores of your own playthroughs using Madden NFL 13!