FOXBOROUGH, Mass. —
Flacco, the only quarterback to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons, was dynamic with his arm and precise with his decision making. Looking much more the championship passer than Brady did, his throws of 11 and 3 yards to Anquan Boldin and 5 to Dennis Pitta all were perfect.
New England (13-5) lost a home AFC title matchup for the first time in five home games.
The loss denied Brady and coach Bill Belichick a shot at their sixth Super Bowl. They’ve gone 3-2, losing their last two times in the big game.
Instead, it’s the AFC North champion Ravens heading to the Big Easy, seeking their second NFL championship. San Francisco has won five.
“This is our time. This is our time,” Lewis said as he and a few teammates were receiving the AFC championship trophy. “All these men out there, there might just be only five of us up here, but every man out there sacrificed this year for each other, and man, we did it and we’re on our way to the Super Bowl. That’s awesome.”
The Ravens have gotten there the hard way, with no postseason bye. Then again, five of the last seven Super Bowl champions took that route.
The Ravens also were pushed into a second overtime in frigid Denver last weekend before eliminating Peyton Manning and the top-seeded Broncos.
And now they’ve cast aside the league’s most successful franchise of the last dozen years.
New England (13-5), which hasn’t won a Super Bowl since the 2004 season, had four injuries, the scariest when running back Stevan Ridley was knocked flat by Bernard Pollard in the fourth quarter, forcing a fumble. Baltimore turned that into the final touchdown, on the only short scoring drive it had, 47 yards.
The Ravens gained just 130 yards in the first half.