AFC East champion Patriots rout Ravens in Baltimore

Baltimore, MD ( - LeGarrette Blount scored a pair of rushing touchdowns and Tom Brady threw for another, as the New England Patriots used a sterling defensive effort to capture a 41-7 decision over the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC clash on Sunday.

Blount ended up with 76 yards on 16 carries, while Brady completed 14-of-26 passes for 172 yards for the Patriots (11-4), who took the field already AFC East champions by virtue of Buffalo's 19-0 win over Miami and remained one game behind Denver for the top spot in the conference.

"They're a good team and they play well at home," said Brady. "We've been talking about playing better on the road and we made a bunch of plays, especially on defense and special teams. It was a great win."

Logan Ryan added a pair of interceptions and the visitors denied Baltimore on three separate fourth-down situations. Chandler Jones recovered a fumble in the end zone for another score, and Tavon Wilson returned a Tyrod Taylor pass 74 yards for a TD.

Joe Flacco threw for 260 yards on 22-of-38 attempts and ran for a touchdown, but was picked off twice and sacked four times for the Ravens (8-7), whose defeat handed the AFC North crown to Cincinnati, which demolished Minnesota, 42-14, earlier on Sunday.

"It's disappointing," said Flacco. "We're used to going out there and playing well when we need to and when playoffs are on the line. We came out today hungry and ready to go get ourselves into the playoffs or make our next step towards it, and we just didn't do it."

Baltimore received no additional outside help in its quest for a playoff berth despite the Dolphins' loss, as San Diego topped Oakland.

Ray Rice was limited to 40 yards on 11 carries, while Marlon Brown caught four balls for 51 yards.

Down by 17 points, Baltimore turned the ball over on downs on its first possession of the second half, failing a 4th-and-3 from the Patriots' 39

The Ravens' next touch was interrupted when a Flacco pass caromed off the hands of Dennis Pitta right to Ryan, who returned the ball to the hosts' 8- yard line. A review determined the pick would stand, but Ryan was down by contact at the spot of the catch, Baltimore's 43. Stephen Gostkowski was later good from 42 yards away and it was 20-0 for the visitors.

On the following series, Torrey Smith's 42-yard catch moved the Ravens deep into Patriots' territory, but the drive came up empty when Rice was denied by inches on 4th-and-1 from the New England 4.

Baltimore's defense managed to pin New England deep, then a 22-yard punt return from Jacoby Jones set up the hosts on the Pats' 38. Though the Ravens reached the 19-yard line, Justin Tucker pulled a 37-yard try just shy of the left upright three plays into the fourth.

The hosts finally cashed in one series later. Defensive pass interference against Steve Gregory on an incomplete pass to Smith gave the hosts possession on the two, and two snaps later, Flacco crossed the goal line from one yard away for a 20-7 game with 9:21 remaining.

The Ravens turned it over again with 6:37 to play after a Flacco pass on 4th- and-10 from his own 48 fell incomplete. Blount capped the following eight-play series with a 7-yard run to paydirt to make it 27-7 with 2:05 to play.

Chandler Jones then recovered a Taylor fumbled snap in the end zone and the Pats led 34-7. Wilson added insult to injury and capped the rout with his long pick-six on the Ravens' next touch.

A pass interference call on Jimmy Smith in the end zone against Julian Edelman on New England's second series of the contest helped set up a 1-yard scoring run from Blount.

Three plays into Baltimore's next drive, Flacco had a ball tipped and it landed into the hands of Ryan at the Pats' 47-yard line. Danny Amendola's 34-yard catch-and-run on the ensuing series set the Pats up on the Baltimore 6, and Shane Vereen caught a 4-yard pass two plays later for a 14-0 game.

Gostkowski capped another successful New England drive with a 45-yard make on the first snap of the second quarter.

Game Notes

The Patriots improved to 7-1 all-time in the regular season against the Ravens, and 3-1 in Baltimore ... New England hasn't blanked an opponent on the road since a 13-0 win at Buffalo on Dec. 28, 2008, while Baltimore hasn't been shut out at home since Tampa Bay claimed a 25-0 win on Sept. 15, 2002 ... The extra point on the Pats' second TD of the game gave Gostkowski 1,000 points, joining Adam Vinatieri (1,158) and Gino Cappelletti (1,130) as the only NE kickers to reach that mark ... Tucker made 33 straight field goals before his fourth-quarter miss.