FOXBOROUGH (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) They are two of the few athletes whose names are synonymous with their position: Tom Brady and Ray Lewis. Sunday marks their third time meeting in the playoffs. While Brady's overall record against the Ravens is an impressive 5-2, both men are tied at one win a piece in the playoffs.
Sunday's game will be the tie breaker and with Lewis announcing his retirement prior to playoffs, this will also be their final time playing against each other.
While Brady has won more than he has lost against the Ravens, his statistics against the traditionally stacked Ravens defense, led by Ray Lewis, have been far from his best.
Brady first played against the Ravens on Nov. 28, 2004 in a record-snapping game for both sides. Brady went 16 games with a touchdown pass, including in playoffs, prior to the Patriots 24-3 win over Baltimore. Adam Vinatieri's three field goals combined with a Corey Dillon rushing touchdown and a Jarvis Green fumble recovery in the end zone added up to the Pats win.
The 24 points were also the most that Baltimore allowed in seven games.
The Patriots would go on to win the Super Bowl in 2004. Their most recent Super Bowl win.
Despite being favored to win the AFC Championship by 8 points, the Patriots have failed to beat the Ravens by even a touchdown since their meeting in 2004.
Brady's stats have also struggled. His 58.6 completion percentage and 74.1 passer rating are the lowest against any of his opponents. With eight interceptions and seven touchdowns against the Ravens, they are the only team Brady has thrown more interceptions against than touchdowns. The Ravens have also sacked him 16 times, one of five teams averaging more than two per game.
Lewis is coming into Sunday's game with a more recent struggle. The 37-year-old linebacker missed 10 regular season games with a torn triceps. Lewis, as well as Ravens defensive stars Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs, are not considered to be at 100-percent health. However, end Paul Kruger, with his 9 sacks in the regular season and two in the playoffs, is the biggest threat to the Patriots. Kruger and his teammates must find a way to penetrate an offensive line that has allowed only 27 sacks.
Brady also won't be doing it alone. Aside from his line, Brady has the likes of Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, and several running backs on his side. Running back Stevan Ridley is a 1,000-yard rusher. Fellow running back Shane Vereen scored three touchdowns against the Texans last week.
Can Brady pick apart an injured Ravens defense and live up to that 8-point spread or will history repeat itself? That is the question on the mind of many football fans leading up to Sunday's game and likely the one everyone will be discussing on Monday morning.
History since 2004:
2004: Pats Win 24-3
2007: Pats Win 27-24
2009: Pats Win 27-21
2009 Ravens win playoffs 33-14
2010: Win 23-20
2012 Pats Win playoffs 23-20
2012: Ravens Win 31-30
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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