Patriots love messy home

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:38 AM ET

Here's mud in your eye, Kyle Boller.

The second-year quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens had some of the Gillette Stadium field stuck to his face after yesterday's 24-3 loss to the New England Patriots.

And that wasn't the only indignity he suffered.

After enjoying 123 previous pass attempts without an interception, Boller was picked off by the Pats' Randall Gay in the first quarter.

FOUR SACKS

He also was sacked four times and coughed up a costly fumble that resulted in a New England touchdown.

"They're tough, they don't make mistakes," Boller said of the reigning NFL champions. "They try to fool you, try to bait you."

The Ravens, who rode into New England on a three-game win streak, rode out with a long to-do list if they are to emerge as contenders in the touch AFC.

"We aren't a good enough football team right now to challenge the world champions," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

"We have five weeks to get better and see if we can come back here and compete."

It didn't help that the Ravens were without injured star running back, Jamal Lewis, which made it that much easier for the bullies on the New England D to gang up. Boller completed just 15 of 35 passes for 93 yards.

Meanwhile, Boller's counterpart, Tom Brady, also was stymied the longer the game went and the worse conditions became.

"It's muddy out there, guys are slipping and you're playing with a muddy ball," said Brady, who completed 15 of 30 attempts for 172 yards with no turnovers.

"It's not going to be pretty when it's muddy like that."

Chances are some of the biggest games in the AFC playoffs will be played here in those conditions, and worse when a little snow and ice gets stirred in.

Though tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the top seed in the AFC, the Patriots have but one game against a team with a winning record , on Boxing Day against the New York Jets.

"From here on in it's going to snow and get cold," Brady said. "Hopefully we can use it to our advantage."

For a team that is 21-3 since moving to Gillette and hasn't lost here since December, 2002, it's hard to imagine anything else.


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