Ravens seek redemption in rare AFC title game rematch

Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:08pm EST
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By Larry Fine

(Reuters) - The New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens renew their rivalry on Sunday in an AFC title rematch that will either end the career of Ray Lewis or deny Tom Brady another crack at the Super Bowl record book.

The battle, coming on the heels of a see-saw 23-20 victory last year by New England in a game squandered by Baltimore in the last minute, marks the first AFC championship game rematch in consecutive years since 1988.

While the Patriots have consistently excelled with trips to five of the last 11 Super Bowls, the Ravens have played them evenly in recent years and promise another bruising battle.

"They know what we are bringing, and we know what they bring," said Lewis, a 13-time Pro Bowl linebacker who plans to retire this year when his 17th NFL season ends.

"We're playing against a great football team that obviously deserves the right to be here. We know how challenging of a team they are," said Brady, poised to break a tie with John Elway for most Super Bowl starts with six should the Pats win.

The Patriots, who will host Sunday's game at 6:30 p.m. ET (2330 GMT) have been virtually unbeatable when they come this close to reaching a Super Bowl, with a 7-1 mark in AFC title games, including a spotless 4-0 record at home.

Baltimore is not intimidated.

Five of the last six meetings between the teams have been decided by six points or less, and they split the last four, with the Ravens winning 31-30 this season and taking a 33-14 road victory in a wild-card game after the 2009 season.   Continued...