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Rice and Ravens stun Patriots, 33-14

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - In a matter of minutes, Tom Brady and his New England Patriots went from being the team of the last decade to looking old, overmatched and oddly inept.

Fans sat in frozen silence. Barely into their seats, they saw the shocking truth on the scoreboard.

Five minutes in, New England trailed the Ravens by 14 points. One minute later, the crowd came to life - booing Brady, who hadn't lost a playoff game at Gillette Stadium. Until Baltimore's 33-14 win yesterday in the AFC playoffs, that is.

"I'd have been booing us, too, the way we played," Brady said. "Playing the way we played today, we weren't going to beat anybody."

Beginning with the very first play - when Ray Rice scampered 83 yards for a touchdown - the Ravens rolled to a 24-0 first-quarter lead. Brady had three of his four turnovers in the quarter and Baltimore was on its way to knocking off a once-unbeatable team that became an inconsistent, mistake-prone group this season.

"Their era is not over. They know how to win," said Rice, who had 159 yards and two TDs. "But for the Ravens to beat the New England Patriots set a precedent. We'll always remember this win."

The Ravens, only slight underdogs, became favorites in a hurry. In a game that began with a wind chill that made it feel like 8 degrees, Rice and his running mates heated up early.

"One thing we said as an offense is we want to start games fast," he said. "I wanted to be the guy today to start fast, whether it was a 5-yard run or an 83-yard run . . . We want the other team to play catch-up to us."

Now, if the Ravens beat the No. 1 Colts and Peyton Manning Saturday night, they'll reach the AFC title game for the second straight year as a wild-card team. "We'll enjoy it," safety Ed Reed said, "and I know what's next: No. 18 is coming. I know it, and he knows we are coming."

Not even Brady could overcome his mistakes and the absence of Wes Welker, the NFL's leading receiver. Brady was 23-for-42 for 154 yards, two TDs and three interceptions. But it was hardly a one-man collapse.

Randy Moss caught only five passes for 48 yards. The Patriots' defense was so porous, allowing 234 yards rushing, that Joe Flacco threw only 10 passes, completing four for 34 yards.

Brady had been 7-0 in playoff games at Gillette Stadium, and the Patriots were 8-0 there this season. They also had won their last 11 home playoff games there and at Foxborough Stadium since their last loss in 1978.

The Patriots tried to rev up the crowd by sending the injured Welker onto the field on crutches for the coin toss. It didn't work. His replacement, Julian Edelman, caught two TD passes, but it wasn't enough.

Said linebacker Ray Lewis, who had 13 tackles and a sack: "Any time we get a lead, it's hard to come back on our defense."

New York Sports