FOXBORO -- The Patriots needed a drive. They needed something to get some momentum on their side. they needed something to give them some breathing room after watching their 20-point lead against the Ravens melt to three.
As it turned out, all they needed was one play.
With 6:18 left in the game, and the Patriots leading 23-20, Tom Brady worked out of the shotgun and faked a handoff to LeGarrette Blount.
PATRIOTS 30, RAVENS 23
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To that point in the game, Blount had 54 yards on 13 carries (an average of 4.2 yards per carry), and Baltimore honored the fake. Not only did both off-the-ball linebackers bite, but so too did deep safety Eric Weddle. The Patriots ran a similar play earlier in the game, hitting Julian Edelman, and it appeared as though Weddle was anticipating the same throw.
Instead, Chris Hogan quickly became Brady's the obvious read.
Running out of the slot, Hogan ran right by Baltimore defensive back Matt Elam, and Weddle couldn't recover well enough to catch up with Hogan's speed. The Patriots wideout was down the seam with no one in front of him, and no one was going to track him down. With five catches for 129 yards in the game, Hogan now has 32 grabs for 613 yards -- a 19.2 yards-per-catch average -- and four scores.
It went in the books as a one-play, 79-yard drive to give the Patriots a 30-20 lead. It ended up being the difference in the game as the Patriots moved to 11-2 by winning, 30-23.
Here's how those involved saw the play transpire . . .
Hogan: "Me and Tom are on the same page. It was something where I had the option of going to the corner or the middle of the field, and we saw the same thing. Tom made a great throw and I think it was the time and the point in the game where we needed someone to step up and make a big play. I was just happy I was able to do that for the team."
Brady: "[Hogan] made a great play. It was off a run fake. He was just . . . not really the primary receiver on the play, but he saw what I saw and kind of adjusted his route, and I just tried to put it out there for him. It was a big play. We needed it."
Bill Belichick: "It looked like it kind of held Weddle a little bit over on the weak side. Elam, it looked like he was rotated down to our right. We had thrown the pass to Julian a little bit earlier in the game so it looked like they just kind of got stretched on that with the safeties. Chris split it so obviously that was a huge play for us in the game, but our play-action game overall was pretty productive. We hit Marty [Bennett]. We hit Chris. We hit Julian. We got some big plays on those play-action passes which of course always comes off of a productive running game."
Weddle: "That was me. I should be there. I told everyone play-action was coming, and I move around so much that it hurt me on that play. It's just unfortunate when you have a chance to win the game and you give them a play like that. It wasn't so much them. It was us."
John Harbaugh: "It's always a play here or a play there that makes the difference. Obviously they made the play on the play-action pass. We had a good idea it was coming and we didn't play it well. We didn't play it right in the back end, and that's just on us."
Terrell Suggs: "I have to look at it. I'm just as shocked as you are. When he threw it, I thought we may have got it, but it was their guy running down the field . . . You can't make a mistake against this guy. He'll make you pay for it, and he made us pay big."