Ridley hurt, Pats lose to Ravens

Published 12:01am Monday, January 21, 2013

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Natchez native Stevan Ridley suffered a head injury and the New England Patriots fell to the Baltimore Ravens 28-13 Sunday in the AFC championship game.

Ridley was knocked flat by Bernard Pollard in the fourth quarter, forcing a fumble. He did not return to the game, and Baltimore turned that turnover into its final touchdown, on the only short scoring drive it had, 47 yards.

After the game, Ridley’s mother, Carolyn Ridley, said in a text message that Stevan had texted her and told her he was OK.

The Super Bowl will be a family reunion of sorts for John Harbaugh as his Ravens reached their first Super Bowl in 12 years, thanks to three touchdown passes from Joe Flacco and a defense led by Ray Lewis that made Tom Brady look downright ordinary.

Next up for Harbaugh and the Ravens is younger brother Jim and the San Francisco 49ers, who beat Atlanta 28-24 earlier in the day for the NFC title.

“I don’t know if we had a dream this big,” John Harbaugh said. “We had a few dreams, we had a few fights, we had a few arguments — just like all brothers.”

They’ll meet in two weeks in New Orleans — what a place for a party to celebrate the first brother-vs.-brother coaching matchup in Super Bowl history.

It also will be quite a last game for Lewis, the emotional linebacker who will retire after the matchup with the 49ers, who opened as a 5-point favorite.

“This is our time. This is our time,” said Lewis, who made 14 tackles Sunday and has 44 in three postseason games after missing 10 weeks with a torn right triceps.

Driven by Lewis’ pending departure from the NFL, Baltimore’s defense stepped up in the playoffs. Brady was 67-0 at home when leading at halftime, but this was no contest in the second half.

“We’ve lost before. It takes a while to get over,” Brady said.

It also was a first for the Patriots, who hadn’t lost an AFC championship at home.

After they had avenged last year’s AFC title game loss at Gillette Stadium, many of the Ravens gathered on the field jumping, chest-bumping and whooping before several thousand fans wearing Ravens jerseys — mostly Lewis’ No. 52 — who remained in the stands.

As in the previous two playoff wins against Indianapolis and Denver, the Ravens (13-6) were brilliant offensively in spots. This might be 17-year-veteran Lewis’ team, but it’s also Flacco’s, and the quarterback’s six road wins are the most in playoff history.

“It was pretty awesome,” said Flacco, who has eight touchdown passes and no interceptions in the playoffs. “We were here last year and thought we had it, but came up a little short. Guys came out in the second half and made plays. … We put pressure on them like that, and it worked pretty well.”

Flacco, the only quarterback to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons, was dynamic with his arm and precise with his decision making. Looking much more the championship passer than Brady did, his throws of 11 and 3 yards to Anquan Boldin and 5 to Dennis Pitta all were perfect.

New England (13-5) lost a home AFC title matchup for the first time in five home games. The loss denied Brady and coach Bill Belichick a shot at their sixth Super Bowl. They’ve gone 3-2, losing their last two times in the big game.

Instead, it’s the AFC North champion Ravens heading to the Big Easy, seeking their second NFL championship. San Francisco has won five.

“All these men out there, there might just be only five of us up here, but every man out there sacrificed this year for each other,” Lewis said during the trophy ceremony. “And man, we did it and we’re on our way to the Super Bowl. That’s awesome.”

The Ravens have gotten there the hard way, with no postseason bye. Then again, five of the last seven Super Bowl champions took that route.

The Ravens also were pushed into a second overtime in frigid Denver last weekend before eliminating Peyton Manning and the top-seeded Broncos.