BALTIMORE (AP) — Using the precise timing and anticipation that has enabled him to become a record-setting NFL safety, Ed Reed had his answer before the question was completed.
Knowing tonight’s matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots is being touted as a rematch of last January’s AFC title game, Reed knocked down the premise as if it was a soft fourth-down pass over the middle.
“The AFC championship really doesn’t have anything to do with this game, because that was last year and we’ve got a couple different guys in this locker room,” Reed said. “We feel totally different about this year than last year. This is a totally different situation. Last year’s game was win or go home. This is not a playoff situation. It may have implications down the road, but who knows what that will be?”
If the Patriots (1-1) and Ravens (1-1) meet on Jan. 20, 2013, with a trip to the Super Bowl hanging in the balance, that confrontation will truly be considered a rematch. This game, however, is really about two very good teams that don’t want to dip below .500.
“I don’t think the last game we played against them has anything to do with this game,” Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco said. “We’re both coming off a loss last week and want to get back on track. It should be a good game, like it always is.”
The last meeting between the teams was a classic. New England won at home, 23-20, but not before Baltimore’s Lee Evans had the potential winning touchdown pass knocked from his hands in the end zone and Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal try in the closing seconds.
Evans and Cundiff are no longer with the Ravens and standout linebacker Terrell Suggs is out indefinitely with a torn right Achilles tendon, backing Reed’s assessment that this team is not the same.
Thus, Baltimore sees no point in looking back at the painful conclusion to the 2011 season.
“You don’t hold onto nothing,” linebacker Ray Lewis said. “Win, lose or draw, you let it go and you move on. This year, we have a totally different makeup as a team. We have a totally different outlook on what we’re trying to do as a team. So, we are looking at this game as a totally different game.”