FOXBOROUGH — It started with the Patriots winning the coin toss and doing what they always do. It ended with Billy Cundiff doing something he almost never did.
The Patriots’ 23-20 victory at Gillette Stadium in last year’s AFC Championship game played out like most of the other meetings with the Ravens: close, emotional, a few big plays, plenty of hard hitting. The game on Jan. 22, 2012, just had a lot more at stake.
Sunday’s rematch brings the same teams to the same stadium on the same weekend as a season ago. The prize to the winner is just as tantalizing: a trip to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.
For the Patriots, they’re playing for the eighth Super Bowl trip in franchise history, and might have history on their side. They’re 4-0 in AFC Championship games played in Foxborough. The Ravens are seeking their second appearance in the Super Bowl, and quarterback Joe Flacco already has led his team to five road playoff wins, including one at Gillette Stadium. Baltimore beat the Patriots three years ago in the wild-card round, 33-14.
Last year’s playoff contest was the first of three games the teams will have played against each other in less than a calendar year. One team — and the majority of the 68,756 in attendance — left the stadium last Jan. 22 elated. The other team left deflated, wondering if it would get another opportunity.
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