On Sunday, the New England Patriots will play in their ninth AFC Championship Game and second straight conference title game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium. Kick-off is 6:30 p.m.
It will be the third time in team history the Patriots will play in consecutive AFC Championship games. The Pats won back-to-back conference titles in 2003 and 2004 and played in both the 2006 and 2007 Conference Championship games, winning the 2007 game.
The Patriots and Ravens have squared off seven times in the regular season and two times in the postseason since the Baltimore franchise was founded following the Cleveland Browns’ move to Baltimore in 1996. This week’s postseason game will be the third since the 2009 season and a rematch of the 2011 AFC Championship Game, a 23-20 New England victory on Jan. 22, 2012.
New England lost for the first time in the regular season to the Ravens when they fell 30-31 in a Sunday Night Football game on Sept. 23, 2012 in Baltimore.
The Patriots and Ravens played in their first postseason meeting following the 2009 season with Baltimore taking a 33-14 win in a Wild Card matchup at Gillette Stadium on Jan. 10, 2010.
The Patriots avenged that loss in the 2011 AFC Championship Game with a 23-20 victory over the Ravens at Gillette Stadium on Jan. 22, 2012 to advance to Super Bowl XLVI.
The Patriots are 5-1 all-time against Baltimore in Foxborough, including 4-1 at Gillette Stadium. The only loss was the 2009 postseason meeting.
The first meeting between the teams came during the Ravens’ first season in Baltimore, when the Patriots prevailed 46-38 on Oct. 6, 1996. The 84 total points scored by both teams in that game rank as the second-highest total number of points in a game in Patriots history to the 86 points in a 43-43 tie with Oakland in 1964.
The Patriots are 14-3 all-time at home in the playoffs and 7-1 in the AFC Championship Game, including 4-0 in Foxborough.
Click here for a closer look at the Patriots by the numbers in the playoffs.
Sunday’s playoff game will be nationally televised by CBS and can be seen in the Boston area on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will call the game. 98.5 FM, The Sports Hub, is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. Play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos is in his 36th season as the voice of the Patriots and will call the action. Former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak will handle the color commentary.
Here's five things you need to know about Sunday’s AFC Championship game.
1. Foxborough Parking Ban in Effect, Stadium Parking Information and Gates Openings
Foxborough’s parking bylaw, which prohibits residents from parking vehicles on their property for a fee will be in effect Sunday. Those in violation of the parking ban will be subject to a $100 fine. Click here for more information.
As for parking along Route 1, parking lots will open for game day at 2:30 p.m. Gillette Stadium's gates open at 4:30 p.m. for admission to the game.
General Parking Rates for Gillette Stadium Lots
- $40 for cars
- $125 for RVs (enter P10 N from the North, Enter P11 from the South)
- $125 for Limos (enter P1 N from north or P7 S from the south)
- $200 for buses (Enter P10 N from the North, Enter P11 from the South)
- $40 for motorcycles (one per space)
All Gillette Stadium Lots are cash only.
Allow Plenty of Time for Traffic Around the Stadium
Drivers are advised to allow themselves plenty of time when traveling near the stadium on game day. Traffic restrictions will be in place on local roads before and after Sunday's game. Fans must use I-95, I-495 or Route 140 to access Gillette Stadium. Public safety officials expect a larger than normal crowd for Sunday’s game and urge travelers to prepare for larger volumes of traffic.
Click here to keep an eye on game day traffic with Patch’s live traffic feature.
2. The Dos and Don’ts at Gillette Stadium
No one wants to be "that fan" that doesn't know the stadium's security protocol. Be prepared on game day by reviewing the dos and don’ts at Gillette Stadium as well as other useful information about the facility:
- Ticket Policies
- Patron Screening
- Prohibited Items
- Acceptable Items
- Banner Policy
- Smoking Policy
- Medical Supplies or Dietary Considerations
- Fan Code of Conduct
- Security Assistance During an Event
- Lost & Found
- Letters of Disinvite
- Designated Driver Program
3. The Last Time the Patriots and Ravens Met …
, in a rematch of the 2011 AFC Championship Game played at M&T Bank Stadium in a Sunday Night Football game in Week 3 of the 2012 season.
The loss was the Patriots’ first ever in the regular season to Baltimore and dropped the Patriots to 1-2 to end a streak of 145 consecutive games at .500 or above. New England fell below .500 for the first time since starting the 2003 season with an 0-1 record.
When the teams met last January, the Patriots squeezed out a three-point victory to advance to the Super Bowl. The stakes were not as high in the Sunday Night game, but the game was similar. Only this time, the Ravens’ K Justin Tucker nailed a 27-yard field goal as time expired to culminate a 7-play, 70-yard drive that began at the Baltimore 21-yard line with 1:55 to play.
Baltimore’s comeback started when QB Joe Flacco led his team on an 8-play, 92-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard touchdown pass to WR Torrey Smith to cut the Patriots lead to 30-28 with 4:01 remaining. New England was stopped on the ensuing series when the Patriots had a chance to ice the game. A third-down pass from QB Tom Brady to TE Rob
Gronkowski fell incomplete, and Baltimore was given a chance to drive for the winning field goal.
Flacco passed for 382 yards and three touchdowns; Smith caught six passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns and RB
Ray Rice gained 101 yards on 20 carries for a 5.1-yard average.
Brady and the Patriots offense started hot and took a 13-0 first quarter lead. Brady completed 28-of-41 passes for 335 yards and both Wes Welker (142) and Brandon Lloyd (108) went over 100 yards receiving. A 59-yard pass from Brady to Welker helped set up the Patriots first field goal.
Safety Steve Gregory intercepted a Flacco pass on the first play of the ensuing drive and returned it 36 yards to the Baltimore 6-yard line. Rookie RB Brandon Bolden scored on a 2-yard run to give New England a 10-0 lead. After forcing a three-and-out, New England put together an 11-play, 60-yard drive that ended in a field goal for a 13-0 first quarter lead.
After not allowing a Baltimore first down on the first three drives, the Ravens put together two 80-plus scoring drives that resulted in a touchdown to take a 14-13 lead in the second quarter.
Brady put New England back in front before the half, completing 5-of-8 passes for 67 yards before connecting with WR Julian Edelman on a 7-yard touchdown pass with two seconds left before halftime for a 20-14 lead. Baltimore opened the second half with an 8-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by a 7-yard touchdown run by Rice for a 21-20 Ravens lead. The Patriots answered with a 12-play, 80-yard drive that was highlighted when Welker and Lloyd caught key third-down conversions before RB Danny Woodhead scored on a 3-yard run for a 27-21 lead. New England tried to recapture the momentum when they stopped Baltimore on the next drive and then drove to the Ravens’ 2-yard line before settling for a field goal and a 30-21 fourth quarter lead.
4. Matt Light and Kevin Faulk Named Honorary Captains for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game
Two former Patriots, running back Kevin Faulk and left tackle Matt Light, who played their entire careers in New England and together helped the Patriots become the most successful team in the NFL for over a decade, will serve as honorary captains for Sunday’s AFC Championship game against Baltimore this Sunday.
Both players announced their retirements in 2012 and each were honored with special halftime ceremonies during games this season to allow fans the opportunity to thank them for their Patriots careers. Faulk and Light played key roles in helping the Patriots win three Super Bowls in a four-year span. Each played in six AFC Championship games and celebrated five AFC Championships.
Faulk, who announced his retirement on Oct. 10, 2012 after spending his entire 13-year career as a member of the New England Patriots, was honored on Nov. 11, 2012 during the Buffalo game. Faulk, who filled various roles for the Patriots during his years with the team, joined the club in 1999 as a second-round pick (46th overall) out of LSU. He is the Patriots all-time leader in all-purpose yards (12,349) and kickoff return yards (4,098) and is the Patriots’ all-time leading return specialist, totaling 5,041 combined return yards (4,098 kick return yards and 943 punt return yards).
Faulk ranks fifth in Patriots history in rushing yards (3,607), fifth in receptions (431), 11th in pass receiving yards (3,701) and sixth in total punt return yards (943). Faulk recorded the longest non-touchdown kickoff return in team history when he covered 95 yards on a return against the New York Jets (11/15/99).
Light was originally drafted by the Patriots in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft. Light left the football field having played a major role in leading the Patriots to 11 consecutive seasons with a winning record, nine division championships, five conference titles and three Super Bowls.
On Feb. 5, 2012, he tied an NFL record when he started in his fifth Super Bowl, joining teammate Tom Brady along with Cornelius Bennett, John Elway and Charles Haley as the only other players to accomplish the feat. In 2009, he was recognized as one of the best players in franchise history when he was named to the Patriots’ 50th Anniversary Team. Light earned three Pro Bowl honors following the 2006, 2007 and 2010 seasons. He played in 175 regular season games with 173 starts including all 20 postseason games and helped the Patriots’ offense finish in the top 10 seven times.
5. What to Watch For in Sunday's AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium
- With a victory, the Patriots will advance to their 8th Super Bowl, matching Dallas and Pittsburgh for the most Super Bowl appearances.
- With a victory the Patriots will advance to the Super Bowl for the second consecutive season. They will be the 8th Super Bowl team that suffered a loss in the previous Super Bowl to earn a return to the title game.
- With a victory, the Patriots will improve to an 8-1 record in AFC Championship Games, including a 5-0 record at home and a 4-0 record at Gillette Stadium.
- With a win over Baltimore, Robert Kraft will earn his seventh conference title. Kraft is already the first NFL owner to bring his team to six Super Bowls.
- Bill Belichick (18) needs one more postseason victory to move into a second place tie with Don Shula (19) for most postseason victories, behind Tom Landry (20).
- Belichick needs to earn one more Super Bowl berth to match Don Shula with six.
- Tom Brady (5) needs to play in one more Super Bowl to match DL Mike Lodish, who played in six (4 with Buffalo and two with Denver).
- Brady (23) needs to start in one more postseason game to match Brett Favre (24) for the most postseason starts by an NFL quarterback. He is tied with Joe Montana with 23 postseason starts.
- Brady (41) needs four more postseason touchdowns to move past Joe Montana (45) and Brett Favre (44) for the all-time lead.
- Brady (5,629) needs 227 postseason yards to set the all-time NFL record for most postseason yards. Brett Favre (5,855), Joe Montana (5,772) and Peyton Manning (5,679) are currently ahead of Brady.
- Brady (524) can add to his NFL record of postseason completions.
- Brady (5) needs one more 300-yard game in the postseason to tie Kurt Warner (6) and Joe Montana (6) for second, behind Peyton Manning (8).
- Welker has had at least six catches in each of his eight postseason games with the Patriots.
- Welker (61) can add to his team record for most postseason receptions. He moved past Troy Brown (58) for the most career playoff receptions in franchise history vs. Houston.
- Welker (569) needs 126 postseason receiving yards to move past Troy Brown (694) into second place all-time behind Deion Branch (836).