Ravens survive, head to Foxboro

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Ravens survive, head to Foxboro

Next up for the Patriots: Baltimore. The Ravens capitalized on a first-quarter special teams gaffe by the Texans and survived a brilliant effort by Houston's defense to advance to next Sunday's AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium. The Ravens are lucky to be alive. And the Patriots offense is going to face its stiffest test of the year (though it might have been even more daunting if Houston won). Check the missteps and bad breaks by Houston. A first-quarter punt muff by Jacoby Jones inside his 10 led to a touchdown. It was a 2-yard drive. The Ravens' next drive ended with a field goal and the first T.J. Yates interception led to the final Ravens score of the first quarter and a 17-3 lead. In the fourth, Yates was picked off twice. The final Yates interception came on a throw to the end zone with 1:51 left that Ed Reed came down with. The would-be game-tying throw was Yates' third pick. The Texans also had a Billy Cundiff field goal hit the crossbarAll that was enough for Baltimore to survive the Texans defense which sacked Joe Flacco five times and allowed just 75 yards on 19 carries to Ricky Williams and Ray Rice. Flacco was 14-for-27 for 176 yards. The Ravens offensive line looked terrible, getting collapsed regularly. And Flacco looked like a guy trying to will himself invisible when the pressure swirled. Didn't work. New England can't bring that kind of heat. And the Ravens' downfield threats -- especially the underrated Anquan Boldin (4 catches and 73 yards) -- are more potent and stand a better chance of testing them than the Broncos could have. Still, the Ravens offense is not terrifying. Not by a long shot. And New England has its best performance of the season to build upon. What was more alarming for the Ravens -- and encouraging for the Patriots -- was the permissiveness of their defense. Inaccurate as Yates was, he found receivers all over the yard running fairly free. And Arian Foster absolutely feasted on the ground running behind the Texans line which just overpowered the Ravens front-seven. Foster carried 27 times for 132 yards. Andre Johnson had 111 yards receiving on eight catches. The Ravens didn't get a sack of Yates. Terrell Suggs was quiet as a church mouse. And Ed Reed appeared to get injured on the final Houston play of the game. We'll watch those this week. So, in short, Baltimore won against a team that threw it to them three times and handed them the ball on the 2-yard line. And they still won by just a touchdown. At home. Underwhelming win. But can the Patriots make the Ravens look as bad offensively as they did against Houston? We'll certainly be discussing it over the next couple of days.

Belichick: Pats see Garcia as left tackle

Belichick: Pats see Garcia as left tackle

FOXBORO -- The bullet points from Bill Belichick on the team’s second pick in this year’s draft, Troy left tackle Antonio Garcia:

- He’s a person.
- He’s a left tackle. 
- He has played tackle and will play tackle. 
- He visited with the Patriots. 
- We’re not sure if he’ll play guard at any point. 
- We’ll see how it goes. 

That’s generally as forthcoming as Belichick was regarding Garcia, a player for whom the Pats moved up from No. 96 to No. 85. Garcia’s selection came two picks after the team made Youngstown State pass-rusher Derek Rivers their first selection of the draft at No. 83. 

“He was here last week; [we] had a good visit with him,” Belichick said of Garcia. “So we’ll see how that goes, but we think he’ll be competitive. He’s done a good job for them down there.” 

Asked whether the lanky 6-foot-6 player could play guard, Belichick was noncommittal. 

“I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “He’s played tackle. He’s got the length and I think the athleticism to play tackle, but we’ll see how he does. I don’t know.” 

As for which side, Belichick viewed Garcia “primarily” as a left tackle.  
 

Former Jet botches J-E-T-S spelling during pick

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Former Jet botches J-E-T-S spelling during pick

FOXBORO -- The NFL had former and current players announce picks during the second and third rounds of the NFL draft Friday night. Some went better than others. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Jets were one of the teams that exerienced less-than-smooth sailing. Former Jets fullback Tony Richardson, who was announcing the team's selection at No. 79 overall, attempted the team's "J-E-T-S Jets, Jets, Jets" cheer, but whiffed on the spelling. 

"With the 79th pick in the 2017 NFL draft," Richardson said, "the New York J-E-T-E Jets select ArDarius Stewart, receiver, Alabama."