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Pats season ends with "crash landing" and no title

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Pats season ends with "crash landing" and no title

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Tom Brady stood helplessly with his hands on his hips after his tipped pass was intercepted. He walked slowly to the sideline, removed his helmet and sat on the bench.

A fourth-quarter comeback chance was gone. The end of his season was less than seven minutes away.

Playoff games leave teams with ``either euphoria or crash landing.

``For us,'' New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday, ``it was crash landing.''

Not even the NFL's best offense or an improving young defense could soften the blow. The 28-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship game Sunday night left the Patriots without a Super Bowl title for the eighth straight year and sent them into an offseason when they could lose two key players.

Wide receiver Wes Welker and cornerback Aqib Talib can become free agents.

Belichick, of course, will be back.

``Yeah. I'll be here. You'll have to deal with me again next year,'' the coach, known for revealing little to reporters, said in a rare light-hearted moment during his season-ending news conference. ``I know that's disappointing for a lot of you. Until I'm told otherwise, I plan on being here.''

Belichick, the NFL's longest tenured coach, is looking ahead to his 14th season with the Patriots. He led them to Super Bowl wins in his second, fourth and fifth seasons - but none since.

Only Brady and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork remain from any of those championship teams.

``That whole era is over with. It's gone,'' defensive end Rob Ninkovich said. ``This is a whole new team. This is a different bunch of guys so we all have to experience it and learn for ourselves what that's like.''

The Patriots did reach the Super Bowl twice in the five seasons before this one. They lost both to the New York Giants, the latest coming last season. Then they stocked their defense with draft choices - end Chandler Jones, linebacker Dont'a Hightower, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and safety Tavon Wilson.

That was promising but hardly a guarantee of continued success.

``Guys only think about what's going to happen the year that they're in,'' placekicker Stephen Gostkowski said, surrounded by trash bags and cartons filled with players' belongings. ``No matter what's happened in the past it doesn't mean that anything good's going to happen in the future. Each year's different.

``Coming in day one of training camp we had no idea what this team was going to be and you kind of feel your way through throughout the games.''

The Patriots started slowly with a 3-3 record. Then they won seven straight before losing to the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers, 41-34 after rallying from a 31-3 deficit. They ended the regular season with two wins.

There were plenty of positives - an offense that led the NFL with 34.8 points and 427.9 yards per game and a defense that was second in the league with 41 takeaways.

Brady had his usual outstanding season, finishing fourth in the NFL with 4,827 yards passing and throwing for 34 touchdowns and eight interceptions. But against the Ravens on Sunday he produced just one touchdown as the Patriots were held scoreless in the second half.

The 13 points were their fewest since a 16-9 loss to the New York Jets on Sept. 20, 2009.

``It's hard to win these games,'' Brady said Monday during his weekly appearance on WEEI radio. ``Unfortunately for us, because we've had a lot of success, nothing means anything unless you win the last game of the year.''

Belichick won't wait long to work toward that goal again.

He must decide whether to keep Welker, the NFL's leader with 672 receptions over the past six seasons, and Talib, who solidified the secondary when he was traded by Tampa Bay after the eighth game.

The Patriots placed the franchise tag on Welker this season and could do so again. They also could sign him to a multiyear contract, or let him go.

Will he be back?

``I'm not sure,'' he said in the losing locker room Sunday night. ``I'm not worried about that right now.''

Talib's return also is uncertain.

``We'll see what happens in the future,'' he said, ``but I definitely had the most fun I had playing football in a long time here.''

Not on Sunday.

Talib left with a thigh injury in the first quarter. Other defensive starters played sparingly with tackle Kyle Love leaving in the opening quarter with a knee injury and Jones limited by an ankle injury to two snaps.

The absence of tight end Rob Gronkowski was probably the costliest. He watched the game from owner Robert Kraft's box after breaking his left arm the previous Sunday in a 41-28 divisional win over the Houston Texans.

And Brady had his usual struggles against the Ravens.

``Baltimore's always been a tough team for us,'' he said. ``Even when we play our best they're a tough team for us and they play very well.''

The momentum began to shift Sunday when Brady mismanaged the clock and the Patriots settled for a field goal on the last play before intermission. In the second half, Joe Flacco threw touchdown passes on three of Baltimore's first four possessions and New England lost two interceptions and one fumble on three of its last four.

At the most critical time, Brady and his teammates collapsed.

But ``there were a lot of positives from this football team,'' Belichick said. ``We wouldn't have gotten to where we were without a lot of good, consistent performances from a lot of people.''

More of them on Sunday might have sent the Patriots back to the Super Bowl.

``A season that's very much alive and with great hopes and expectations and energy suddenly crashes and it's over,'' Belichick said. ``That's where we are today. It's stopped. It's over. We're onto next year.''

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Ravens' defense earns third shutout of season, force 5 turnovers against Packers

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USA TODAY Sports

Ravens' defense earns third shutout of season, force 5 turnovers against Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Baltimore Ravens forced five turnovers in their third shutout of the season, blanking the Green Bay Packers 23-0 Sunday.

Baltimore last accomplished the feat when the Ray Lewis-led defense had four shutouts for the Super Bowl-winning team in 2000; the last NFL team to have three was New England in 2003. Jimmy Smith, Eric Weddle and Marlon Humphrey each picked off passes for Baltimore (5-5), which led the NFL in interceptions entering the weekend.

"It doesn't mean (anything) if we don't make the playoffs," veteran edge rusher Terrell Suggs said about the shutouts. "If we don't get in, you won't remember them."

RELATED: THREE THINGS WE'VE LEARNED ABOUT THE RAVENS THIS SEASON

A problematic offense couldn't generate a touchdown drive until Joe Flacco's perfect deep ball to Mike Wallace over two defenders for a 13-point lead nearly two minutes into the third quarter. Flacco threw for 183 yards, going 22 of 28 with an interception.

His lone touchdown pass was still enough of a cushion against a Packers team struggling without two-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, out with a broken collarbone.

The Packers were last shut out on Nov. 19, 2006, when then-starter Brett Favre left with an elbow injury in the first half of a 35-0 loss to New England. Rodgers, then in his second year in the league, finished off that loss in relief.

Hundley, Rodgers' replacement this season, didn't fare any better.

He was 21 of 36 for 239 yards. But he threw interceptions on the Packers' first two series. On the third drive, backup running back Devante Mays fumbled on his first carry of the season.

"Our guys were playing so fast and covering so well, it just made it tough on" Hundley, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.

Any big gains the rest of the day were negated by busted plays or penalties. The Packers (5-5) have lost four of their past five games.

"You have to take care of the football," coach Mike McCarthy said. "Offensively, that was way too much for us to overcome."

RELATED: NO SUSPENSION FOR DOLPHINS' KIKO ALONSO

Davante Adams was a lone bright spot, torching the Ravens' strong secondary for 126 yards on eight catches. The Packers actually outgained the Ravens 265-219. But turnovers sapped any momentum.

"We're not in panic mode, everything is still in front of us," Adams said. "We've got to get a grip of it real quick here. Otherwise we will be in panic mode."

Justin Tucker kicked three field goals for Baltimore. Alex Collins added a 3-yard touchdown run with 2:12 left. That score came a play after Hundley threw his third interception, returned 15 yards by Humphrey.

Collins had 49 yards on 20 carries, while Wallace finished with 56 yards on four catches.

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Ravens vs. Packers: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Ravens vs. Packers: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Ravens are back after their bye week and are headed to Green Bay, Wisconsin to take on the 5-4 Packers.

Prior to the bye week, the Ravens lost a close one to the Tennessee Titans, allowing Marucs Mariota to throw a late touchdown in the fourth to wide receiver Eric Decker. 

The first half of their season has been rough. Joe Flacco hasn't performed up to his Super Bowl MVP status and is looking to change that in their last seven games. 

RELATED: THREE THINGS WE'VE LEARNED ABOUT THE RAVENS SO FAR THIS SEASON 

Running back Danny Woodhead-who has been out since Week 1 with a hamstring injury- returned to practice and could be playing Sunday. 

The Ravens' receiving core hasn't shown up either. John Harbaugh's team is as healthy right now as they've been all season, something that will be very important in Lambeau Field. Can the Ravens get back on track and steal the sixth and final AFC playoff spot? Their first step could be against the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers.

The Packers have been without Rodgers since Week 6 and are now being lead by Brett Hundley.

Hundley currently has a 69.1% QB rating and 2 touchdowns, but is listed on their Week 11 injury report with a hamstring injury.

Packers starting running back Ty Montgomery, is listed a questionable and did not participate in Wednesday's practice with a rib injury.

RELATED: FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 11 RANKINGS 

They are ranked 22nd in the league in passing yards and 19th in rushing yards. Something the Ravens defense should be able to handle.

The Ravens and Packers have met five times, with the Packers leading the series 4-1. The last time they met was in October of 2013 when the Packers beat the Ravens on the road, 19-17.

Ahead of Sunday's game, here's everything you need to know to watch.

Week 11 Ravens vs. Packers Game Info:

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Green Bay Packers

What: Week 11 NFL regular season 

When: 1:00 p.m.. ET, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017

Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI

TV Channel: CBS

Live Stream: fuboTV

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090 

Point Spread: Baltimore, -2

Over/Under: 38

Weather: 30 degrees, mostly sunny

BALTIMORE RAVENS 2017 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE:

Week 1 (Sun, Sept. 10): 20-0  at Cincinnati Bengals (W)

Week 2 (Sun, Sept. 17): 24-10 vs. Cleveland Browns (W)

Week 3 (Sun, Sept. 24): 44-7 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (in London) (L)

Week 4 (Sun, Oct. 1): vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 5 (Sun, Oct. 8): at Oakland Raiders, 4:05 p.m. (W)

Week 6 (Sun, Oct. 15): vs Chicago Bears, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 7 (Sun, Oct. 22): at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 8 (Thur, Oct. 26): vs. Miami Dolphins, 8:25 p.m. (W)

Week 9 (Sun, Nov. 5): at Tennessee Titans, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 10 (Sun, Nov. 12): BYE week

Week 11 (Sun, Nov. 19): at Green Bay Packers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 12 (Mon, Nov. 27): vs. Houston Texans, 8:30 p.m.

Week 13 (Sun, Dec. 3): vs. Detroit Lions, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: (Sun, Dec. 10): at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:30 p.m.

Week 15: (Sun, Dec. 17): at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 16: (Sat, Dec. 23): vs Indianapolis Colts, 4:30 p.m.

Week 17: (Sun, Dec. 31): vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 p.m