Joe Flacco threw three touchdown passes in just over 10 minutes and the Baltimore Ravens led the New England Patriots 28-13 in the fourth quarter of the AFC championship game Sunday.
Flacco connected with Anquan Bolden for two TDs in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter — a 3-yarder and an 11-yarder — after hitting Dennis Pitta with a 5-yard strike with 6:14 left in the third.
The Ravens gained just 130 yards in the first half before Flacco guided them on scoring drives of 87 and 63 yards.
A win would send the Ravens to the Super Bowl for the second time and extend the 17-year career of linebacker Ray Lewis, who has said he will retire after the season.
A victory would put the Patriots in their eighth Super Bowl, tying the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers for the most all time, and Brady in his sixth.
The winner of the game plays the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.
New England suffered three injuries in the first half. Cornerback Aqib Talib hurt his thigh and defensive tackle Kyle Love injured his knee. The return of both starters was questionable. Backup safety Patrick Chung was helped off the field after one play.
The Patriots played without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who broke his left arm a week earlier in their 41-28 divisional win over the Houston Texans.
Stephen Gostkowski had given the Patriots a 3-0 lead with a 31-yard field goal with 6:21 left in the first quarter. But the Ravens went ahead on Ray Rice's 2-yard touchdown run with 9:28 to go in the second.
Wes Welker then scored with just over 4 minutes remaining in the half on a 1-yard pass from Tom Brady and the Patriots increased their lead on Gostkowski's 25-yard field goal on the final play before intermission.
New England outgained Baltimore 214 yards to 130 in the half. Brady completed 14 of 24 passes for 139 yards, while Flacco went 6 for 12 for 81 yards. Neither team committed a turnover.
The scoring pass to Bolden ended a drive on which Flacco completed five of six passes, the longest a 23-yarder to Torrey Smith.
The touchdown by Pitta capped the Ravens' best drive of the game, covering 87 yards in 10 plays. It started with a 15-yard defensive pass interference penalty. Then, Flacco completed six of his other nine passes on the series. Three of them went for first downs — 22 yards to Pitta, 15 to Rice and 12 to Bolden that gave the Ravens a first-and-goal at the Patriots 10-yard line.
Flacco then connected with Pitta for a 5-yard pass and finished the drive with another 5-yarder to Pitta, who easily beat single coverage by safety Steve Gregory.
The Patriots began the scoring on Gostkowski's kick, ending a 13-play, 67-yard drive during which Brady completed five of seven passes for 55 yards.
Rice's touchdown ended a 13-play, 90-yard drive that lasted 5:51. Flacco threw completions for first downs of 17 yards to Pitta, 11 yards to Rice, 8 yards to Bernard Pierce and 25 yards to Smith. With a first down at the Patriots 15-yard line, Rice ran for 8 and 5 yards, giving the Ravens a first down at the 2.
After Flacco threw an incompletion out of bounds, Rice took a handoff, ran to the left and scored easily.
Welker's touchdown came 4:18 before intermission and capped an 11-play, 79-yard drive. He scored on a pass to the right as cornerbacks Corey Graham and Chykie Brown appeared to get crossed up on their assignments.
On the first play of the series, Baltimore's Dannell Ellerbe was penalized 15 yards for a blow to the head. Then a 24-yard completion from Brady to Welker gave the Patriots a first down at the Ravens 16-yard line.
Both teams punted on their first possession before the Patriots began their scoring drive at their 21-yard line after a 50-yard punt by Sam Koch.
The Patriots began the series with Brady's 8-yard completion to Brandon Lloyd. The pair teamed up for three completions, gaining 37 yards, on the drive.
The Ravens punted on their first three possessions in the first quarter. The Patriots punted on three of their four series, forcing Baltimore to start deep in its territory.
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