Tag: Baltimore Ravens

Revisiting Tom Brady’s Conference Championships

Tom Brady will make his NFC Championship debut this weekend with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (PHOTO COURTESY: Charles Krupa / Associated Press/LA Times)

By Matt Noonan

By now you probably have heard that Tom Brady – yes, the former New England Patriots quarterback – is headed back to the conference championship for the ninth time in the last ten seasons. Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rallied to beat the New Orleans Saints, 30-20, last night in the NFC Divisional Round to secure a date next Sunday with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

For the most part, Brady’s trips to the conference championship have resulted in trips to the “big game” – that would be the Super Bowl, to be exact – while some have ended in disappointment. But Sunday will mark the veteran signal-caller’s first appearance in the NFC Championship after appearing in 13 AFC title games.

Being a history nerd, as well as a lifelong football fan, I thought we could get ready for this weekend’s big game by revisiting all of Tom Brady’s past appearances in the conference championship round, beginning with his initial appearance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in January 2002.


January 27, 2002: Eight days after leading the Patriots past the Oakland Raiders in what has been dubbed the “snow bowl,” Brady received some help from Drew Bledsoe, who replaced the young quarterback who sustained a sprained ankle late in the second quarter. Bledsoe completed 10 of 21 passes for 102 yards and one touchdown while the defense limited Pittsburgh to just two touchdowns during the final two sessions.

New England would advance to its first Super Bowl since the 1996 season and beat the St. Louis Rams, thanks to a game-winning field goal by Adam Vinatieri.

January 18, 2004: Eight days after a dramatic win over the Tennessee Titans, Tom Brady and the Patriots outlasted Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, 24-14.

While Brady tossed one touchdown in the win, it was the New England defense, specifically Ty Law, who highlighted the victory – the unit intercepted Manning four times while recording four sacks.

New England would advance to the Super Bowl and beat the Carolina Panthers.

January 23, 2005: Supposedly, Tom Brady was sick prior to his team’s championship meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he looked pretty good once the game commenced. Brady completed 14 of 21 passes for 207 yards while Corey Dillon led all rushers with 73 yards on 24 carries.

New England would represent the AFC in the Super Bowl two weeks later where they would beat the Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 24-21.

January 21, 2007: After scoring back-to-back wins over the New York Jets and San Diego Chargers, the New England Patriots entered the 2006 AFC Championship game with a lot of momentum. However, it slowly disappeared early in the third quarter as Indianapolis erased a 21-6 deficit to beat the Patriots, 38-34.

The Colts limited Tom Brady and the Patriots offense to just 13 points in the second half while Peyton Manning finished the game with 349 passing yards and two touchdowns (one passing and one rushing).

January 20, 2008: Tom Brady played the role of gunslinger in this particular match-up with the San Diego Chargers by completing 22 of 33 passes for 209 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions as the Patriots won their 18th straight contest before falling to the New York Giants two weeks later in the Super Bowl.

January 22, 2012: This was perhaps the most dramatic AFC Championship game for Tom Brady and the Patriots as they somehow edged the Baltimore Ravens, 23-20, thanks to a missed field goal by Billy Cundiff.

Tom Brady rushed for one score in the win, while BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for a game-high 68 yards on 15 carries.

Sadly, the dramatic win was quickly forgotten two weels later when New England lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl for the second time in four seasons.

January 20, 2013: Tom Brady completed 29 of 54 passes for 320 yards and one touchdown – he also threw two interceptions – but it wasn’t enough to send the Patriots past the Ravens at Gillette Stadium. Baltimore erased memories of the 2011 championship meeting with an impressive 28-13 victory, thanks to three touchdown passes from Joe Flacco.

January 19, 2014: For the second-straight season, the Patriots won 13 of 18 contests, but their final outing with the Denver Broncos concluded with a 26-16 setback. Peyton Manning completed 32 of 43 passes for 400 yards and two touchdowns while the Broncos defense limited Tom Brady to just two touchdowns – one through the air, one on the ground.

January 18, 2015: After a dramatic and exciting win over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Divisional Round, the Patriots scored a huge win over the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium. Tom Brady tossed three touchdowns in the win while LeGarrette Blount rushed for a game-high 148 yards on 30 carries and three scores.

New England’s defense intercepted Andrew Luck twice – they also limited Dan Herron to 51 rushing yards on 10 carries.

The Patriots returned to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2011 season to beat the Seattle Seahawks, thanks to a late-game interception by Malcolm Butler.

January 24, 2016: Weeks after losing to the Denver Broncos in the regular season, the Orange and Blue scored their second victory of the 2015 season against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Brady was sacked four times and picked-off twice, but he did toss one touchdown against a talented Broncos defense.

Peyton Manning concluded the game 17 of 32 for 176 yards and two touchdowns. He was also sacked three times.

January 22, 2017: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were the better team in this meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brady tossed three touchdowns, including two to Chris Hogan, who concluded the contest with nine grabs on 12 targets for 180 yards.

Two weeks after an impressive win against the Steelers, the Patriots would complete an improbable comeback against the Atlanta Falcons to secure the franchise’s fifth Super Bowl championship.

January 21, 2018: After knocking off the Tennessee Titans eight days earlier, the Patriots scored their second-straight postseason win against a member of the AFC South. New England rallied to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, 24-20, thanks to two touchdown passes from Tom Brady to Danny Amendola.

Sadly, the exciting win against the Jaguars would follow with a disappointing setback to the Philadelphia Eagles.

January 20, 2019: Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead highlighted an overtime win against the Kansas City Chiefs by combining for 154 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Burkhead clinched the victory in overtime while Tom Brady concluded the contest with 348 passing yards and one touchdowns.

Kansas City did intercept Brady twice while Patrick Mahomes completed 16 of 31 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns. New England would go onto capture their sixth Super Bowl with a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

Noontime’s Sunday Thoughts (Jan. 17, 2021)

By Matt Noonan

Happy Sunday, everyone – I can use the word “happy” in front of what day it is, right?

Well, no matter what, I hope everyone is doing well while having a wonderful weekend. And of course, I do hope this post – well, more my weekly column, to be exact – finds everyone thinking optimistically because better days are ahead, I believe it.

Similar to last week’s Sunday Thoughts, I am going to share ten quick thoughts heading into what I hope will be a wonderful week for everyone.

So, without further ado, here is this week’s Noontime’s Sunday Thoughts!


Make sure to stay connected with Noontime Sports on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and YouTube. Additionally, don’t forget to subscribe and listen to our podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.


Thought No. 1: The Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers are the real deal. Yes, I know Ben Volin of the Boston Globe shared similar thoughts with his readers, but I think both teams could see each other early next week in Tampa, Florida to compete for the ultimate prize: the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Thought No. 2: Kudos to members of Bills Mafia, which performed a good deed last night after Lamar Jackson exited the game with what appeared to be a concussion. According to several outlets, following the conclusion of last night’s Buffalo-Baltimore Ravens game, members of Bills Mafia donated to Jackson’ favorite charity: Louisville’s chapter of Blessings in a Backpack. While its unknown how much money Buffalo fans donated, this is certainly an amazing story, as well as one of the many reasons why we ALL love sports, right?

Thought No. 3: I think the Cleveland Browns can beat the Kansas City Chiefs. Yep, I do. Cleveland has been a great story this season – they’re the underdog this afternoon – and it would be great to see Baker Mayfield and the Browns back in the conference title game for the first time since 1989.

Thought No. 4: Bold prediction: Tom Brady will throw three – maybe four? – touchdowns today and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will beat the New Orleans Saints in what will be Drew Brees‘ final contest in the National Football League (NFL).

Thought No. 5: Why does Cris Collinsworth always refer to a coach, player or someone within the NFL (or outside the league?) by starting his sentences with “here’s a guy?” Does anyone know?

Thought No. 6: Is it just me or was the 2020 college football season a disaster? I think this past fall was a horrible display of leadership, as well as a bad product. Sure, Alabama looked like world beaters compared to everyone else, but that was because of so many cancelations and postponements last summer and fall.

Thought No. 7: Cooper Manning, who is Peyton and Eli’s brother, called what appears to be his first high school basketball game last week. And he shared some unique thoughts on broadcasting – I think he also offered to give away a car, which seems like a strange thing to do at a high school game. But what do I know?

Thought No. 8: Sarah Fuller, who became the first female kicker to compete and score a point in a Power 5 college football game earlier this school year, will take part in Joe Biden‘s presidential inauguration this week. As noted in Pete Thamel‘s story on Yahoo! Sports, she considers this opportunity “an honor to be invited to participate in one of America’s great traditions.” Indeed, this is quite the honor for Fuller that I hope will continue to stay involved with football so she can continue to inspire more young women to pursue and accomplish their dreams, both on and off the field.

Thought No. 9: Call me crazy, but why are we playing high school sports during a pandemic? While the initial month of 2021 is far from over, it seems both this weekend (and the past few days) are an ideal time to crown high school football champions in both Michigan and Texas. Alright, good for them – yay, they finished their respective seasons – but maybe other states can do what Connecticut did and punt to next school year. Do the right thing and keep all the student-athletes safe and healthy.

Thought No. 10: I am a social media nerd and have really enjoyed following the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL), specifically their TikTok account. The content they have produced for TikTok is funny, which it should be. And I loved their recent video of waking up in the sunshine state: so peaceful.

Noontime’s NFL Divisional Round Predictions

By Matt Noonan

It’s time for another BUSY weekend of professional football – are you ready for the National Football League‘s (NFL) Divisional Round?

I am, despite picking four of six games correct last week – I thought the Chicago Bears were going to upset the New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks were going to beat the Los Angeles Rams, but like I sad in 2020, what do I know?

Let’s see if I can go four-for-four with picks this weekend – fingers crossed, of course! – but in the meantime, I hope everyone continues to stay safe, happy, and healthy!

Have a great weekend and let’s get ready for some great football – let’s go!


Get ready for a BUSY weekend of football by listening to the Football Friday Podcast with Andrew Pezzelli and Zach Weiss on Apple Podcasts and Spotify!


Noontime’s Postseason Record: 4-2 | Wild Card Predictions

Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers (Saturday, Jan. 16 at 4:35 p.m.): The last time the Rams beat the Packers in the postseason they were representing St. Louis, not Los Angeles. And it happened to be in the second round of the 2001 postseason – January 2002, to be exact. Can they do it again? Maybe, but for the Rams to score an upset win over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, they must control the time of possession while receiving some help from their defense. Prediction: Green Bay 24, Los Angeles 14

Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills (Saturday, Jan. 16 at 8:15 p.m.): This is a toss-up – both teams are capable of winning this matchup! – but the Ravens may have the edge, thanks to its rushing attack. But the same could be said for its defense, too, which limited Derrick Henry to just 40 yards on 18 carries (2.2 yards per carry) last week. Buffalo received some help last week from the Indianapolis Colts‘ coaching staff, which made some strange decisions in both halves. PREDICTION: Baltimore 28, Buffalo 17

Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, Jan. 17 at 3:05 p.m.): The Browns have not appeared in the Divisional Round since 1994 when they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers by a score of 29-9. Cleveland beat Pittsburgh last week in a bizarre and crazy first-round matchup, but I am not sure they’re capable of slowing down the defending Super Bowl champions. Kansas City will push ahead for good early in the third quarter and secure a home date for the AFC Championship. PREDICTION: Kansas City 30, Cleveland 21

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (Sunday, Jan. 17 at 6:40 p.m.): Tom Brady and the Buccaneers are peaking at the right time. Sure, they didn’t manhandle the Washington Football Team last week, but they certainly looked pretty good. And while Tampa Bay may have lost both meetings with Drew Brees and the Saints earlier this season, I think the third time is the charm for Bruce Arians‘ team. PREDICTION: Tampa Bay 28, New Orleans 25

Noontime’s NFL Wild Card Predictions

By Matt Noonan

It’s hard to believe, but somehow the National Football League (NFL) made it through an entire season while finding ways to combat the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

I was unsure if and how the NFL would keep its coaches and players safe these past few months, along with each team’s staff, too, but somehow they did it. And now it is time to move onto the postseason.

Every week, I will share my thoughts on each matchup – this weekend we will be treated to six games – along with a prediction for each contest.

So, without further ado, here is our Noontime Sports NFL Wild Card predictions – enjoy the games, everyone, and let me know what you think by sending me a tweet to @NoontimeSports.


Make sure to listen to our Football Friday Podcast with Andrew Pezzelli and Zach Weiss on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.


Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills (Saturday, Jan. 9 at 1 p.m.): In my opinion, Josh Allen is the best quarterback drafted in the first round of the 2018 Draft – yes, I know Baker Mayfield was the first signal-caller selected, but Allen has enjoyed his best season as a pro with 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Allen and the Bills enter the postseason with a lot of momentum – I believe they have won their last six contests? – and should have no problem getting past the Colts on their home field. PREDICTION: Buffalo 28, Indianapolis 17

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks (Saturday, Jan. 9 at 4:40 p.m.): It’s hard to pick against Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll in the postseason – somehow, this quarterback-coach duo knows how to lead the Seahawks to victory, especially on the road. But I expect them to find a way past a Rams team on their home field – earlier this season, I thought the Rams were going to be the best team in the NFC, but they haven’t been that impressive (in my opinion, to be exact) over the last few weeks. PREDICTION: Seattle 17, Los Angeles 9

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington Football Team (Saturday, Jan. 9, at 8:15 p.m.): The Washington Football Team has been a great story, despite their seven wins. Ron Rivera overcame cancer last fall while Alex Smith returned to the field after sustaining a devastating injury two years ago. As much as I would love to see this team advance to the second round, I just don’t think they will be able to keep up with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers’ offense. Tampa Bay is going to win this game – hopefully, it will be close! – but I think Washington is a team to watch over the next few years. PREDICTION: Tampa Bay 23, Washington 10

Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans (Sunday, Jan. 10 at 1:05 p.m.): The Ravens enter the postseason with a lot of momentum – in fact, they have won five straight and boast perhaps the best rushing attack amongst all the playoff teams. Last week, they racked up 404 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals, which is something they won’t do this weekend against Tennessee. However, I believe this rushing attack will be the reason why Baltimore scores its first postseason victory since January 3, 2015. PREDICTION: Baltimore 27, Tennessee 21

Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints (Sunday, Jan. 10 at 4:40 p.m.): Do I smell a possible upset? I think I do! Chicago has won five contests on the road this year and almost beat New Orleans on their home field last November. According to ESPN, the Bears enter this year’s postseason “with nothing to lose.” PREDICTION: Chicago 24, New Orleans 20

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday, Jan. 10 at 8:15 p.m.): It’s been a LONG time since the Browns last played in the postseason, so you know their fans are eager for the kickoff to arrive as soon as possible. This is certainly a winnable match-up for Cleveland, which beat Pittsburgh last week. Yes, I know Pittsburgh sat a few starters last Sunday, but I just don’t think this Steelers team is that good. But as I said a few times in 2020, what do I know? PREDICTION: Cleveland 28, Pittsburgh 26

Noontime’s Sunday Thoughts (Jan. 3, 2021)

By Matt Noonan

Happy New Year, everyone!

Yes, I know I am not the first to wish you, as well as your family and friends, a very happy and healthy new year, but hopefully this post – the first of many, of course! – will fill you with some much-needed joy and happiness on a rather gray and overcast day here in Boston, Massachusetts.

As promised in my year-end video, I am eager to produce some new (and old) content, including my first-ever ‘Noontime’s Sunday Thoughts’ column, which will be a mix of thoughts, ideas, and links from the sports world, along with some other topics, too.

I am excited for this column and hope you are, as well – I am sure it will look different each week, but that is the beauty of trying new things, right?

So, without further ado, here comes my first post of 2021 – I am excited and optimistic for a much better year for everyone!


Thought No. 1: 2021 will be much better than 2020: Yes, this is an understatement, but I believe better days are ahead – I am an optimist.

However, I don’t expect an immediate bounce back now that it is January 3, 2021. We still need to wear our masks, social distance, and wash our hands. And we need to “hold the line,” so we can finish strong.

We can do this – I believe in my fans and friends!

As we get closer to the spring and summer, I expect some sense of normalcy will return, but that feeling of gathering or watching a game safely won’t truly happen until late September or early October. Maybe early November?

This is an educated guess – I am not a scientist, so I could be wrong (fingers crossed!) – but once we are able to assemble safely at a future sporting event, I will breathe a sense of relief. I know that day will come and it will be an exciting occasion for everyone.

Thought No. 2: The NFL’s 2020 Season: To be honest, I did not expect the National Football League (NFL) would be able to play a full 17-week season during a pandemic. But somehow, they persevered.

Yep, I was wrong – sorry, everyone!

I was shocked that the league was able to play three weeks without an outbreak, but somehow, they overcame a hurdle of obstacles from the Tennessee Titans to Cam Newton to moving the Pittsburgh SteelersBaltimore Ravens game from Thursday to Sunday to Monday to Tuesday.

The NFL seemed unprepared for its 2020 season after successfully conducting their collegiate draft in April via Zoom, but somehow they proved me wrong, so let’s enjoy the final day of the regular season because who knows what happens next week once the postseason begins.

Thought No. 3: The 2020 College Football Season: I am not the biggest college football fan, but I did watch a few games this past fall, including a pair of must-see Boston College contests against Clemson University and Notre Dame.

But what I witnessed outside of the Boston College matchups I watched was poor play by numerous teams, including various student-athletes, as well as coaches acting as if they were invisible to the coronavirus – did anyone actually wear a mask on the sidelines this year? I give my buddy Howard Herman of the Berkshire Eagle credit for the mask comment.

In addition to the playing field being mediocre, I have also found some of these bowl games rather boring – to be honest, I would rather watch bull-riding than some of these games, but again, what do I know?

The 2020 season was a wild ride for the college sports world – remember, not many of us knew if and when games would begin last fall – but similar to the NFL, the college football world deserves some credit for finding a way to play games safely. Hopefully the championship game between Alabama and Ohio State will be a good finale for the 2020 season.

Thought No. 4: Podcasts will continue to grow in 2021: If there is one thing 2020 taught us, it is that podcasts will continue to be a go-to medium for many of us working from home until at least the summertime, maybe the fall?

And while podcasts under big-time brands like Barstool Sports and The Ringer will continue to flourish, I do expect some smaller to medium size shows to gain more listeners (and yes, followers, too).

Our podcast – the Noontime Sports Podcast – has grown immensely, thanks to our fans and friends, but also because of the amazing guests that have joined me over these past few months (thank you to everyone that has joined me – can’t wait to have you all back again soon!).

I am excited to produce more shows this month while continuing to listen to new shows (and podcasts) I discovered last year.

Here are a few shows I would recommend listening to (and yes, hitting the subscribe button, too!):

I’ll definitely be highlighting podcasts more in the coming days and weeks, so stay tuned for future posts!

Final Thought: Could we see some new hyper-local blogs, websites or podcasts emerge this year, especially in New England?

My answer: Yes.

As many know, 2020 was not a good year for media, especially newspapers, that have shuttered or reduced their newsroom. There were also some big-time outlets that let-go of some well-established (and up-and-coming) writers, producers and on-air hosts, which leads me to think that many would be willing to take their following from social media to their own respective website, blog or podcast.

Here in Massachusetts, we have seen some smaller digital outlets grow over the past few weeks and months, including the New England Football Journal, which has done a good job with online shows to complements their high school and college football coverage. John Sarianides has hosted some video shows, including coaches chats that I have enjoyed and know my fans would, as well.

Pending high school football occurs (and is played) next month, the NEFJ will be a site to follow for coverage – make sure to follow the site’s co-owner Kevin Stone, who is very passionate about hyper-local sports coverage.

Speaking of college and high school football, make sure to follow Adam Kurkjian‘s coverage through MassVarsity – similar to John and Kevin, Adam has done a good job with providing Massachusetts football fans with content to consume with very few games being played – while Ryan Lanigan and Josh Perry have done a phenomenal job with their coverage through HockomockSports.com.

These are just three sites – yes, I know there are more – but these outlets have provided future content producers, writers, and editors with a blueprint of what they could create in certain pockets of the state of Massachusetts, along with the region for areas that have lost or need additional college and high school sports coverage.


Alright, that will do it for my first-ever ‘Noontime Sunday Thoughts’ column – hope you enjoyed it, and if you have any thoughts or ideas for next week’s post, please let me know. Send me a tweet message to @NoontimeSports or an email to MattNoonan@noontimesports.com.