“Last year they both missed time” with injuries, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “I don’t think they were the best players on that team. I think they were obviously good players. They had great leadership and certainly (their) personalities had a big impact on the team and so forth. But I wouldn’t say they were their best players.”
Some of those are still around — nose tackle Haloti Ngata, linebacker Terrell Suggs and cornerback Ladarius Webb.
Brady knows how difficult it can be to move the ball against a Ravens defense with those three, plus linebackers Jameel McClain and Elvis Dumervil and defensive backs Corey Graham and Jimmy Smith.
With Suggs and Dumervil rushing him, Brady must be aware of throwing the ball quickly. That’s not easy against a secondary that covers well and without tight end Rob Gronkowski, sidelined for the season with a knee injury.
“It would be nice to go out there and play this team and play them well for once,” he said. “They’ve always had great players there. They still have some great players that are carryovers from last year’s team and different guys that they’ve added this year. It’s a really good group and they put a lot of pressure on you.”
The Ravens defense is among the NFL’s best in many categories — tied for first in rushing touchdowns allowed, third in third-down defense, fourth in red-zone touchdown percentage and first downs given up and fifth in average rush allowed.
In three postseason games against Baltimore over the past four seasons, Brady is 1-2 with three touchdown passes and seven interceptions.
In the last regular-season meeting on Sept. 23 of last season, the Ravens won 31-30 after trailing 30-21 with just over four minutes left as the Patriots punted on their last two possessions.