[UPDATED 12/22/13] The Baltimore Ravens needed a win Dec. 22 to maintain control over their chances of clinching the sixth and final seed in the AFC playoff picture.

Unfortunately for Baltimore, they had to take on a New England Patriots team that was itching for payback after losing to Baltimore in the AFC Championship game last postseason.

The Patriots successfully avenged their lost to the Ravens last January with a 41-7 win over Baltimore on Dec. 22 at M&T Bank Stadium.

Baltimore struggled offensively throughout the entire game, scoring just one touchdown. and that came in the fourth quarter. They went scoreless in the first half as New England took a 17-point lead into halftime.

Baltimore later trailed 20-7 and had a chance to attempt a comeback midway through the fourth quarter. But they were stopped on a fourth down giving the Patriots the ball back with six minutes left.

New England only needed to run the clock out to secure the win, but went on to score 21 unnecessary points within the final two minutes of the game, running the score up on the Ravens in revenge fashion.

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco completed 22 of 38 pass attempts for 260 yards but failed to throw a touchdown and was picked off twice by the Pats defense.

Flacco sprained his left knee last week against the Detroit Lions and had to wear a knee brace for the first time in his career, which may have contributed to his struggles. He wasn’t as mobile in the pocket as he usually is, giving the Patriots an advantage in their attempts of stopping him.

Flacco rested during the final minutes of the game once the score was out of reach. But backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor came in and committed two turnovers that gave the Patriots’ two defensive touchdowns for 14 points scored in garbage time.

The Ravens’ best receiver, Torrey Smith, also struggled as he caught just 3 passes for 69 yards.

The Patriots used their running game on offense to pound away at the Ravens’ defense. Veteran running back LeGarrette Blount ran for 75 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 15 carries, while Steven Ridley added 54 yards on 15 carries for the Patriots.

Quarterback Tom Brady had an average game, completing 14 of 26 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown, still one of his better performances against the Ravens in recent history.

The Ravens are now 8-7 overall on the season and are tied with the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins for the final seed in the AFC playoffs. Baltimore will need to beat the Cincinnati Bengals (10-5 record) in their meeting on Dec. 29 for any chance of stealing the sixth seed.

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor