The defense won this game. The defense and Billy Cundiff. It certainly wasn't the offense that won this game for the Pats. While I don't think Brady "sucked pretty badly," he wasn't good. The Patriots lost the turnover battle, Flacco in many ways had a better game than Brady, the Ravens accumulated more yards, and held the ball longer. But the Pats defense made some big plays in big moments and that's why the Patriots are going to the Super Bowl.
The defense did allow a pair of token touchdown drives, struggling to contain Rice and giving up chunks of yardage in the air.
But when Woodhead fumbled a kickoff return on the 28, the defense held Baltimore to a field goal (which gave the Ravens a 4 point lead instead of an 8 point lead). Spikes' interception might have been a big play if Brady didn't throw a pick a few seconds later.
In the 4th, the Ravens had a 3rd and 3 on the Patriots' 30 (48 yard field goal range). Wilfork stuffed Ray Rice for a 3 yard loss, and Baltimore was forced to go for it on 4th and 6 instead of kicking a field goal. The Pats did not allow the Ravens to convert that 4th down thanks to good coverage and pressure from the aforementioned Wilfork.
The offense had a chance run out the clock late but went 3 and out. The defense did allow a big 29 yard Anquan Boldin reception, which put the Ravens in field goal range. Then Sterling Moore saved the game by breaking up a pass in the end zone, then deflected the next pass. So at the very least, the defense preserved a tie.
Billy Cundiff did the rest.
The Patriots' offense wasn't bad all game. They just couldn't come up with many big plays. They struggled in the Red Zone, the Ravens got timely pressure on Brady, then there were the turnovers. Brady threw 2 picks, he also had one called back because of an illegal contact penalty, and he threw another one after an encroachment flag. He was not that sharp. He also missed a wide open Gronkowski and what would have been a touchdown in the 1st quarter. He missed a number of passes, and frequently threw into double coverage.
The Pats' best player had his worst game of the season, but because of Wilfork, Spikes, Moore, and Ellis, the Pats still won. And Brady will get a chance to redeem himself against the Giants.
Longest two weeks of the year. Let's party.