This was honestly the most impressive performance of the year by the Patriots offensive line.
When both your starting tackles, who are considered top 5 of their respective positions in the league, are out, you're going to have a bad time.
When your starting left guard has to kick out to left tackle for the second time since college, you're going to have a bad time (the last time was when he was knocked out against the Dolphins in 2011 and played hurt the rest of the year).
When your starting left guard is an undrafted rookie out of a small conference, and has to line up against perennial All Pro Haloti Ngata, you're going to have a bad time.
When your only two lineman playing the positions they were supposed to in Week 1 have been your least consistent linemen on the season, you're going to have a bad time.
When you're playing with all of the above factors, against a defense that has eaten your cookies the past few games, you're supposed to have a bad time.
But the Patriots didn't suffer. They absolutely owned the Ravens.
Third string tackle Marcus Cannon and first string lumberjack Logan Mankins held down the fort at the tackle spots and played more than admirably against Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. Mankins, in particular, exceeded any expectations that should have been held and deserves a reprieve for whatever grief's been thrown his way for his inconsistencies at guard. He's a captain for a reason and he led by example by playing the role of the quintessential team player.
Undrafted rookie Josh Kline, who toiled most of the season on the practice squad, jumped into active duty last week and started at left guard against one of the best linemen of the past decade. Did anyone hear him getting singled out for a negative play all game? He definitely was walked back more than a couple times, but he fought every single snap and greatly impressed. I was hard on Kline during the preseason for being the weakest of the rookie linemen trying out for a roster spot and he made me eat my words. Extremely impressive.
Center Ryan Wendell and right guard Dan Connolly are the only two players who were in the spot that the team had hoped and they've ranged from deplorable to more-than-serviceable all year. One is in the final season of his contract and the other is looking like a potential cap casualty. Both stepped up and had themselves more-than-solid games. Not just given the circumstances- they had great games. Period.
The coup de grace came on the Patriots final gut-punching drive where the Ravens needed a stop by any means necessary to maybe spark a comeback after turning the ball over on downs at midfield. The Patriots dialed up nine straight running plays to first chew up some of the clock, and then maybe add some points on the board.
3, 8, 1, 8, 2 (on 3rd and 1), 2, 8, 1, 7 (touchdown)
With the game on the line, the broken down offensive line decimated a team fighting for its playoff life by eating up 4:32 of the game clock, leaving the game far out of reach.
If any unit deserves credit for this win, the offensive line should be at the top and Dante Scarnecchia deserves another feather in his cap for putting together such an impressive game.