Patriots 23 Ravens 20: Grading the Offense

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates with his teammates after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens during their AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Assigning a grade to the Patriots' offense for their performance in New England's 23-20 victory over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship:

Passing Offense

Quarterback Tom Brady had his lowest rated passing game of the year. He went 22/36 for zero touchdowns and two interceptions. He missed an open Rob Gronkowski for a touchdown in the first quarter, he floated a couple of passes into coverage. He threw a fourth quarter interception in the fourth quarter on a drive where the Patriots could have essentially put the game away. No, it wasn't the best day for Tom Brady and the Patriots passing offense. But I will give you this: The Patriots moved the ball well and sustained drives all game, and a lot of that was due to the passing game. And in the fourth quarter, with the Patriots down by four, Tom Brady delivered one of his vintage moments on an 11 play, 63 yard drive that gave the Patriots the lead for good, 23-20.

The Patriots' receivers / tight ends also played well, although Deion Branch only had two catches. In addition, the protection also held up well, with Tom Brady only being sacked once by Paul Kruger.

Grade: C

Rushing Offense

The Patriots' rushing offense was one of the pleasant surprises of the game. On the Patriots first touchdown drive of the game in the second quarter, running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis carried the ball 4 times for 35 yards. He capped the drive off with a beautiful, patient, seven yard touchdown run. For the game, Green-Ellis carried the ball 13 times for 68 yards. Danny Woodhead added six carries for 18 yards, while Aaron Hernandez also received three carries for nine yards. I would have liked to see the Patriots stick to the run a little bit more, particularly in the second half. However, the running game was certainly critical to the Patriots success. In fact, the Patriots only other touchdown came on a Tom Brady quarterback sneak to give the Patriots the lead late in the fourth quarter.

Grade: B

OVERALL OFFENSIVE GRADE: C+

The Patriots went three and out on their first drive, but then moved the ball pretty well for the rest of the game. The thing that bothered me most about the Patriots' offense was the points that the unit left on the board. Three times they were stopped in the red zone. The two turnovers also didn't help. Fortunately, the defense bailed out the 'O' on several occasions. But there's no doubt, if the Patriots are to beat the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI, they will need to be more opportunistic when on offense.

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