BALTIMORE (AP) — Tom Brady completed 23 of 31 passes for 294 yards and a touchdown, and the New England Patriots took a 27-21 lead over the Baltimore Ravens after three quarters Sunday night.
Brady engineered a go-ahead drive midway through the third period, with Danny Woodhead scoring on a 3-yard run. That 12-play, 80-yard march offset a 7-yard touchdown scamper by Baltimore's Ray Rice on the opening series of the second half.
Brady had given the Patriots a 20-14 lead with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman with 2 seconds remaining in the first half. Brady's late heroics overshadowed a nice comeback by Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, who threw two second-quarter TD passes after being held without a first down in the opening period.
On the drive culminating in Edelman's score, New England benefited from two defensive penalties and Brady hitting Wes Welker for a 28-yard completion.
In the first quarter, Brandon Bolden scored his first NFL touchdown and Stephen Gostkowski kicked two field goals as the Patriots took a 13-0 lead.
New England frustrated the Ravens until they finally put together their first sustained offensive series, a 13-play drive that ended with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to Torrey Smith, who was playing less than 24 hours after the death of his 19-year-old brother.
With 1:47 remaining in the half, Flacco found Dennis Pitta along the right sideline for a 20-yard scoring pass. Pitta leaped over safety Steve Gregory, caught his balance to remain in bounds at the 7-yard line and gave the Ravens the lead.
The game was billed as a rematch of last year's AFC championship contest, won by the Patriots.
New England went ahead 3-0 midway through the opening period, using a 59-yard pass from Brady to Welker off a no-huddle play to set up the score. After Baltimore's Ed Reed made a jarring hit in the end zone to deny Edelman a touchdown catch, the Patriots had to settle for Gostkowski's 37-yard field goal.
The completion to Welker allowed Brady to move past Hall of Famer Joe Montana (40,551 yards) and into 12th place on the NFL's all-time list for yards passing.
On the first play of the ensuing Ravens series, Flacco was intercepted by Gregory, who stepped in front of Pitta and returned the pick 36 yards to the Baltimore 6-yard line. Three plays later, Bolden burst in from the 2 for a 10-0 lead.
After another three-and-out by Baltimore, Brady moved the Patriots 60 yards in 11 plays, culminating in a 49-yard field goal by Gostkowski. The drive was helped by a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, who flopped on Brady after the quarterback went into his slide on a 7-yard scramble.
Baltimore finally broke through on a drive that carried over into the second quarter. Flacco capped the 82-yard march with the scoring pass to Smith in the left side of the end zone.
Pitta's TD reception put the finishing touches on a 92-yard drive. Flacco was 4 for 5 for 67 yards on the 10-play march.
Smith rejoined the team following the death of his brother, Tevin Chris Jones, in a motorcycle accident in Westmoreland County, Va., late Saturday night. Smith was informed of his brother's passing at the team hotel shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday and left the Ravens to be with his family.
Before the game, a moment of silence was observed for Jones, whose picture was placed on the replay screens at the stadium. The Ravens also asked the fans to observe a moment of silence for former NFL Films president Steve Sabol.