Does the Ravens' defense own Brady?

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Does the Ravens' defense own Brady?

For all the back and forth on what it will take for the Patriots to beat the Ravens on Sunday, many including myself believe that it will come down to one thing:

Protecting Tom Brady.

If Brady consistently has time to work, the Patriots will win. If he spends more time bumping uglies with T-Sizzle than head butting Gronk in the end zone, it's going to be a long, painful winter.

But even if you don't entirely buy the simplicity of that break down, you have to admit that Brady needs a big game to send the Pats to the Big Game. Right?

Well, maybe not.

Looking back on Brady's career, his team has, for the most part, performed well against the Ravens. He's 4-0 in the regular season against Baltimore (the most wins he has against any team, without a loss). Of course, he's also 0-1 in the playoffs, but all things considered, you can do a lot worse than a 4-1.

But in consistent victory, it's interesting to note that Brady's never had much statistical success against Baltimore. Here's a look at his numbers in five career starts:

November 28, 2004: Pats win, 24-3

15-30 for 172 yards with 0 TD, 0 INT and a QB rating of 67.6

December 3, 2007: Pats win, 27-24

18-38 for 257 yards with 2 TD, 1 INT and a QB rating of 76.3

October 4, 2009: Pats win, 27-21

21-32 for 258 yards, 1 TD (one rushing), 0 INT and QB rating 100.8

January 10, 2010: Ravens win, 33-14

23-42 for 154 yards with 2 TD, 3 INT and QB rating of 49.1

October 17, 2010: Pats win, 23-20 (OT)
Brady 27-44 for 292 yards with 1 TD, 2 INT and a QB rating of 69.5

I don't need to expand on that awful playoff loss. But even if we just look at those four regular season wins, Brady's inconsistencies are obvious. (Albeit, understandable considering the quality of defense Baltimore throws out every year.)

His 56.3 career completion percentage against the Ravens is worse than it is against all but one other team (Carolina, 56.2), and the same goes for his 77.9 career QB rating. In the five total games, he's thrown only six touchdowns, but also six interceptions.

Yet again, the Pats are 4-1.

I believe it was the great Rod Rust who once said, "Stats are for losers," and that never appears to be more true than when looking at Tom Brady's history with the Baltimore Ravens. So maybe I should revise my statement from earlier in this post.

Maybe the Pats don't need a big game from Brady to make it to the Big Game. If they can find a way to hog tie Ray Rice, push Fu-Man Flacco into a few precarious positions, force a few turnovers, and hold onto the ball themselves, maybe the Pats can grind out an old fashioned, smash mouth win.

But I'll stand by this: If they do protect Brady, and he does have time to work. The Pats will win. And it's on to Indy.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Tyronn Lue says Celtics harder to defend than Warriors: 'They're running all kinds of s---'

Tyronn Lue says Celtics harder to defend than Warriors: 'They're running all kinds of s---'

The Golden State Warriors are the least of Tyronn Lue's worries, Cleveland Cavaliers coach explained Tuesday.

Even though Lue and the Cavs are up 3-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals, he is apparently overwhelmed with the Boston Celtics to the point where he isn't even thinking about Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and the 67-win Warriors.

"We're just focused on Boston," Lue said of the Warriors following the Cavs' Game 4 win, via ESPN.com. "The stuff they're running, it's harder to defend than Golden State's [offense] for me, as far as the actions and all the running around and all the guys who are making all the plays, so it's a totally different thing."

No, seriously.

"Like, they hit the post, Golden State runs splits and all that stuff, but these guys are running all kinds of s---," Lue said of Boston coach Brad Stevens' schemes. "I'll be like, 'F---.' They're running all kinds of s---, man. And Brad's got them moving and cutting and playing with pace, and everybody is a threat. It's tough, you know, it's tough."

Without Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics finished Game 4 with four players who had 15 points or more. They also had six players who scored double digits in Boston's Game 3 win. Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder and Al Horford have made heavy offensive contributions. And they not just scoring. The Celtics are working hard off the ball by setting screens and cutting to the hoop to pressure the Cavaliers defense.

The Celtics may not have the Warriors' star power -- but Stevens and Boston are still managing to leave Lue in a state of clear befuddlement after a win.

LeBron James praised Stevens more directly when discussing how the Celtics "run different things" after losing Thomas to injury.

"So they had to kind of reshape, and that’s the beauty of having Brad Stevens as your coach," James told reporters. "You’re able to reshape what you do offensively and still be in a good rhythm. It’s been challenging for us to kind of — plays out of time-out, kind of been killing us on ATOs and keeping us off balance, but in the second half we kind of got a little bit of rhythm, and think we’ll be better in Game 5."