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QB Brady braces for team that often has his number

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QB Brady braces for team that often has his number

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) There's something about the Baltimore Ravens that brings out the worst in Tom Brady.

Against most teams, he plays like one of the NFL's best quarterbacks. Against the Ravens, he gets outplayed by Joe Flacco.

So what's the problem?

Start with the Ravens' inspirational, hard-hitting leader, Ray Lewis. Add a talented secondary led by Ed Reed. And throw in a strong defensive line with Haloti Ngata leading the charge.

``They have a lot of playmakers at each level of the defense,'' Brady said Wednesday before the New England Patriots practiced. ``It's not like you beat this team, 50-0. It's always a tight game. There's tight coverage. There's tight throws, tough reads because schematically they do quite a few things. So it's never easy.''

He doesn't expect it to be in Sunday night's AFC championship game.

``You play against a team like this, that's able to adjust because of their personnel and because they do a lot of things schematically, there are a lot of `what ifs' in preparation throughout the course of the week,'' he said. ``That's really what we're trying to hone in on this week.''

Brady is 5-2 in his seven games against the Ravens, not a bad record. But his personal statistics are among the poorest against any of the 31 teams he's faced in his 13-year career.

His 58.6 completion percentage and 74.1 passer rating are the lowest against any opponent. The Ravens are the only team he's thrown more interceptions against (eight) than touchdowns (seven). They've sacked him 16 times, one of five teams averaging more than two a game against Brady.

In five games against the Patriots, Flacco is 2-3 but has completed 64.7 percent of his passes with a 95.7 passer rating. He's thrown for nine touchdowns and just four interceptions.

Brady's 49.1 rating in a 33-14 playoff loss to Baltimore on Jan. 10, 2010 is his lowest in his last 101 games and sixth lowest in his 198 career starts, including the postseason.

Why?

``For one, you've got a guy (Lewis) that's been playing ball for 17 years sitting in the middle, so that tells you right there that their leadership is one of the best things that they have,'' Patriots running back Stevan Ridley said. ``They're known for defense. They're known for Ray Lewis. They're known for Ed Reed.

``You're going to see some of the greats going at it (Sunday night). What else could you ask for. This is what you live for. This is playoff football.''

Some quarterbacks say they establish their legacy with their postseason play.

Brady, winner of two regular-season MVP awards and two more in Super Bowls, has no time to dwell on that now.

``I don't really think about any of that,'' he said. ``I'm just trying to win a football game this week. I think we're very short-term focused and playing against a great football team that obviously deserves the right to be here. We know how challenging of a team they are.''

The Ravens know how good Brady can be even though he's struggled at times against them.

``We've got to play smart. We're dealing with a brilliant quarterback,'' safety Bernard Pollard said. ``We have to understand ... the pieces he has around him. He can fire that ball to anybody, and they're going to play their tails off for him.''

The Patriots got off to a horrible start against the Ravens in their wild-card matchup three years ago and Brady was a major factor.

Ray Rice scored on an 83-yard run on the game's first offensive play. Then Brady turned the ball over on three of his first four possessions, leading to 17 points and a 24-0 Ravens lead after one quarter.

They started at the Patriots 17-yard line after Terrell Suggs recovered Brady's fumble, the 25 after Chris Carr intercepted a pass and the 9 after Reed picked off another one.

Six minutes into the game with the Patriots trailing 14-0, the fans booed their hometown team.

``I'd have been booing us, too, the way we played,'' Brady said after the game. ``Playing the way we played today, we weren't going to beat anybody.''

He next played against Baltimore in last year's AFC championship game. The Patriots won that 23-20, but Brady threw two interceptions and no touchdowns, had a 57.5 passer rating and helped keep the Ravens in the game.

The Patriots took that three-point lead when Brady capped a 63-yard drive with a 1-yard run on the first series of the fourth quarter. But their next two drives ended when he threw an interception then couldn't get a first down when the Patriots got the ball with 2:46 remaining.

They punted and Flacco led the Ravens from their 21 to a second-and-1 at the Patriots 14. But then he threw two incompletions, the first when Lee Evans was stripped of the ball in the end zone, and Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal attempt on the next to last play.

In their most recent meeting, the Patriots led 30-21 on Sept. 23 in the fourth quarter but punted on their last two possessions. The Ravens then scored 10 points in the last 4:01 and won 31-30 on Justin Tucker's 27-yard field goal on the final play.

That was typical of Ravens-Patriots matchups - close with the outcome determined late in the game.

Five of Brady's seven games against them were won by six points or less. Two of the last three were won on last-play field goals. The third was decided when Cundiff missed his field goal attempt with 11 seconds remaining in last year's AFC title game.

``They're as good as any team we played this year, better than most,'' Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. ``We're playing a team that we had a great, great game with earlier in the season. It came down to the last play. We don't really expect much less than that this time around.''

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AP Sports Writer David Ginsburg in Baltimore contributed to this report.

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AFC North: Terrelle Pryor says Browns can win out, DeAngelo Williams shuts him down

AFC North: Terrelle Pryor says Browns can win out, DeAngelo Williams shuts him down

BY ERIC GARLAND, CSNMidatlantic.com 

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor’s Week 3 performance, where he racked up 144 receiving yards and one rushing touchdown, might have gotten him a little too excited for the rest of the season. 

Why, you might ask? According to an NFL.com article, he claimed the Browns can win out the rest of the season.

That’s a pretty tough task, and Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams didn’t hesitate to rib Pryor for the claim. 

“Maybe he was talking about Ohio State,” Williams tweeted. 

Ouch, burn. 

Pryor, of course, played quarterback for a dominant Ohio State team before converting to wide receiver in the NFL. During his time as a Buckeye, he lead the team to two Big Ten championships and a Rose Bowl championship in 2010. 

Williams’ tweet is only added insult, as the Browns are currently winless heading into Week 4 and have suffered an array of injuries to key players, including Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown and Corey Coleman.

Pryor’s positivity is certainly the attitude needed to start getting some wins in Cleveland, but Williams certainly isn’t buying it. 

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Fantasy Football: Week 4 position rankings

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Fantasy Football: Week 4 position rankings

Week 4 of the fantasy football season is here as are my positional rankings. Check back later in the week for updates as news shifts some players up, down or out.

For those seeking free agent help, check out the Week 4 Waiver Wire column, which includes options for those dealing with running back injuries and bye weeks.

Quarterbacks

1. Philip Rivers, SD
 
2.  Cam Newton, CAR
 
3.  Drew Brees, NO
 
4.  Andrew Luck, IND
 
5.  Matthew Stafford, DET
 
6.  Kirk Cousins, WAS
 
7.  Andy Dalton, CIN
 
8.  Carson Palmer, ARI
 
9.  Blake Bortles, JAC
 
10.  Derek Carr, OAK
 
11.  Ben Roethlisberger, PIT
 
12.  Joe Flacco, BAL
 
13.  Matt Ryan, ATL
 
14.  Russell Wilson, SEA
 
15.  Dak Prescott, DAL
 
16.  Trevor Siemian, DEN
 
17.  Eli Manning, NYG
 
18.  Tyrod Taylor, BUF
 
19.  Sam Bradford, MIN
 
20.  Ryan Tannehill, MIA
 
21.  Jameis Winston, TB
 
22.  Jimmy Garoppolo, NE
 
23.  Brian Hoyer, CHI
 
24.  Alex Smith, KC
 
25.  Brock Osweiler, HOU

Running Backs

1.  David Johnson, ARI
 
2.  Le'Veon Bell, PIT
 
3.  Ezekiel Elliott, DAL
 
4.  C.J. Anderson, DEN
 
5.  Melvin Gordon, SD
 
6.  Lamar Miller, HOU
 
7.  LeGarrette Blount, NE
 
8.  Mark Ingram, NO
 
9.  LeSean McCoy, BUF
 
10.  Todd Gurley, LA
 
11.  Carlos Hyde, SF
 
12.  DeMarco Murray, TEN
 
13.  Christine Michael, SEA
 
14.  Jeremy Hill, CIN
 
15.  Frank Gore, IND
 
16.  Spencer Ware, KC
 
17.  Charles Sims, TB
 
18.  Devonta Freeman, ATL
 
19.  Matt Jones, WAS
 
20.  Jordan Howard, CHI
 
21.  Latavius Murray, OAK
 
22.  Isaiah Crowell, CLE
 
23.  Matt Forte, NYJ
 
24.  Theo Riddick, DET
 
25.  Jerick McKinnon, MIN
 
26.  Tevin Coleman, ATL
 
27.  Giovani Bernard, CIN
 
28.  Orleans Darkwa, NYG
 
29.  Dwayne Washington, DET
 
30.  Cameron Artis-Payne, CAR
 
31.  Chris Ivory, JAC
 
32.  Terrance West, BAL
 
33.  T.J. Yeldon, JAC
 
34.  Kenyan Drake, MIA
 
35.  Duke Johnson, CLE
 
36.  Justin Forsett, BAL
 
37.  Matt Asiata, MIN
 
38.  Fozzy Whittaker, CAR
 
39.  DeAngelo Williams, PIT
 
40.  Derrick Henry, TEN
 
41.  Jay Ajayi, MIA
 
42.  Jamaal Charles, KC
 
43.  James White, NE
 
44.  Travaris Cadet, NO
 
45.  Chris Thompson, WAS
 
46.  Alfred Morris, DAL
 
47.  Robert Kelley, WAS
 
48.  Bilal Powell, NYJ
 
49.  Charcandrick West, KC
 
50.  Rashad Jennings, NYG

Wide Receivers

1.  Antonio Brown, PIT
 
2.  A.J. Green, CIN
 
3.  Julio Jones, ATL
 
4.  Odell Beckham Jr., NYG
 
5.  Allen Robinson, JAC
 
6.  DeAndre Hopkins, HOU
 
7.  Marvin Jones, DET
 
8.  Alshon Jeffery, CHI
 
9.  Larry Fitzgerald, ARI
 
10.  Travis Benjamin, SD
 
11.  T.Y. Hilton, IND
 
12.  Amari Cooper, OAK
 
13.  Kelvin Benjamin, CAR
 
14.  Dez Bryant, DAL
 
15.  Brandin Cooks, NO
 
16.  Mike Evans, TB
 
17.  Demaryius Thomas, DEN
 
18.  Jarvis Landry, MIAQ
 
19.  DeSean Jackson, WAS
 
20.  Julian Edelman, NE
 
21.  Stefon Diggs, MIN
 
22.  Doug Baldwin, SEA
 
23.  Emmanuel Sanders, DEN
 
24.  Jeremy Maclin, KC
 
25.  Michael Crabtree, OAK
 
26.  Willie Snead, NO
 
27.  Tyrell Williams, SD
 
28.  Sterling Shepard, NYG
 
29.  Eric Decker, NYJ
 
30.  Brandon Marshall, NYJ
 
31.  Terrelle Pryor, CLE
 
32.  Steve Smith, BAL
 
33.  Devante Parker, MIAQ
 
34.  Will Fuller, HOU
 
35.  Mike Wallace, BAL
 
36.  Michael Floyd, ARI
 
37.  Allen Hurns, JAC
 
38.  Jamison Crowder, WAS
 
39.  Sammy Watkins, BUF
 
40.  Golden Tate, DET
 
41.  Tavon Austin, LA
 
42.  Tajae Sharpe, TEN
 
43.  Tyler Lockett, SEA
 
44.  Cole Beasley, DAL
 
45.  Phillip Dorsett, IND
 
46.  Michael Thomas, NO
 
47.  Torrey Smith, SF
 
48.  Mohamed Sanu, ATL
 
49.  Victor Cruz, NYG
 
50.  Pierre Garcon, WAS

Tight Ends

1.  Greg Olsen, CAR
 
2.  Jordan Reed, WAS
 
3.  Rob Gronkowski, NE
 
4.  Travis Kelce, KC
 
5.  Eric Ebron, DET
 
6.  Kyle Rudolph, MIN
 
7.  Coby Fleener, NO
 
8.  Dennis Pitta, BAL
 
9.  Jason Witten, DAL
 
10.  Zach Miller, CHI
 
11.  Delanie Walker, TEN
 
12.  Dwayne Allen, IND
 
13.  Julius Thomas, JAC
 
14.  Jimmy Graham, SEA
 
15.  Gary Barnidge, CLE
 
16.  Jacob Tamme, ATL
 
17.  Hunter Henry, SD
 
18.  Martellus Bennett, NE
 
19.  Jack Doyle, IND
 
20.  Antonio Gates, SD
 
21.  Charles Clay, BUF
 
22.  Cameron Brate, TB
 
23.  Clive Walford, OAK
 
24.  Tyler Eifert, CIND
 
25.  Jesse James, PIT

Kickers

1.  Stephen Gostkowski, NE
 
2.  Adam Vinatieri, IND
 
3.  Chandler Catanzaro, ARI
 
4.  Justin Tucker, BAL
 
5.  Dan Bailey, DAL
 
6.  Steven Hauschka, SEA
 
7.  Graham Gano, CAR
 
8.  Josh Lambo, SD
 
9.  Brandon McManus, DEN
 
10.  Dustin Hopkins, WAS
 
11.  Matt Prater, DET
 
12.  Will Lutz, NO
 
13.  Chris Boswell, PIT
 
14.  Nick Novak, HOU
 
15.  Josh Brown, NYG
 
16.  Blair Walsh, MIN
 
17.  Matt Bryant, ATL
 
18.  Cairo Santos, KC
 
19.  Mike Nugent, CINQ
 
20.  Sebastian Janikowski, OAK

Defenses

1.  Arizona Cardinals, ARI
 
2.  Denver Broncos, DEN
 
3.  Seattle Seahawks, SEA
 
4.  Houston Texans, HOU
 
5.  New England Patriots, NE
 
6.  Minnesota Vikings, MIN
 
7.  Carolina Panthers, CAR
 
8.  Cincinnati Bengals, CIN
 
9.  New York Jets, NYJ
 
10.  Washington Redskins, WAS
 
11.  Kansas City Chiefs, KC
 
12.  Pittsburgh Steelers, PIT
 
13.  Los Angeles Rams, LA
 
14.  New York Giants, NYG
 
15.  Buffalo Bills, BUF
 
16.  Detroit Lions, DET
 
17.  Baltimore Ravens, BAL
 
18.  Miami Dolphins, MIA
 
19.  Indianapolis Colts, IND
 
20.  Dallas Cowboys, DAL