An AFC championship rematch with the Patriots after last year’s devastating defeat put New England in the Super Bowl is something Haloti Ngata wanted all along.
Most Ravens shrugged off a Week 3 meeting with the Patriots, which Baltimore won 31-30, because it didn’t mean the same thing. Well, this does and the Ravens defensive tackle is thrilled that everything aligned to make it happen.
“I think we personally kind of wanted to play the Patriots again,” Ngata said Monday. “If we were to go to the Super Bowl, it would be great to go through Foxborough and win there. So it’s another match-up that I think that we’re excited about and hopefully we can get it done this time.”
Last year, a missed chip shot and a dropped pass in the end zone in the final minute were the lasting memories from the Ravens’ 23-20 loss at New England in the AFC championship.
The Ravens didn’t take that result too well.
“The feeling that we had in that locker room, I think we all wanted to get back to the AFC championship and to actually have it be back in Foxborough,” Ngata said. “I think we’ve definitely moved on, but I know we all wanted to get back to the championship. And we’re there and hopefully we can get it done this time.”
Tight end Dennis Pitta joined Ngata with anticipation for facing the Pats again.
“We’re excited about this game. It’s been a long road getting back to this point and the way we left it last year didn’t sit well with us,” Pitta said. “So we are excited to be in this position again and give it another shot. The Patriots are a good football team. We know that and they’ve played well all season. So I think everyone in the building is excited about this game.”
As for the effect of last year’s heartbreaker, a few players said it didn’t have much bearing on this season.
“We’ve learned from it, we’ve grown from it and we’re a new football team, we’re a different football team and so are they,” Pitta said. “And so, it’s about this year and playing the best that we can on Sunday.”
The Ravens opened as 10-point underdogs with the Pats looking to get back to the Super Bowl for the second straight season and the game being played at Gillette Stadium.
Wideout Torrey Smith isn’t paying attention to the odds-makers, especially after Baltimore overcame similar predictions to beat the top-seeded Broncos on Saturday.
“I don’t really care about underdog stuff,” Smith said. “It’s not like I’m going to go out there, catch a first down and be like, ‘These guys didn’t think we were going to do it.’ We want to go out there and win a football game and that’s where we’re at.”
To get to their fourth AFC championship, the Ravens needed a memorable double-overtime win over the Broncos.
A game that included five ties and four seven-point deficits ended with Justin Tucker’s 47-yard winning field goal, and it’ll go down as one of the greatest contests in Ravens history.
“I’ve never been a part of a game like that. It was incredible,” Pitta said. “We knew we had a good shot of winning that game. We went in to that stadium confident, really excited about getting another shot at those guys because the first time we played (Denver), we did not play well, and obviously I think we were a different football team at that point in the season as well.
“We were excited and did everything that we needed to do to win that football game in all three phases of our team. So it was a great win and one I’ll remember for a long time.”