Anquan Boldin calmly told reporters Wednesday that this season's AFC championship rematch with the New England Patriots would be different from last season's heartbreaking 23-20 loss.
Elaborating, Boldin said: "Because we'll make it different. We're going to win."
On Sunday night, the Ravens -- and Boldin -- delivered on that promise, with a cathartic 28-13 win over the Patriots, to the dismay of the sellout crowd of 68,756 at Gillette Stadium.
Boldin played his part, catching five passes for 60 yards and two touchdowns.
"This team is a team of faith," Boldin said after the game. "We believed all year no matter what the circumstances. We've been through a lot as a team. We've had injuries after injuries, we lost an offensive coordinator; you name it, we've been through it. But this team has never wavered in its faith."
The 31-year-old wide receiver has been huge for the Ravens in the playoffs this season, with 15 receptions for 267 yards and three touchdowns in three games.
Boldin's first score showcased his leaping ability, as he rose to snare a jump ball lofted by quarterback Joe Flacco for a 3-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. It put the Ravens up 23-13.
"I don't know if [the Patriots] know it or not, but the Ravens are a physical team, with the way we play, like it or not, offensively and defensively," Boldin said after the win. "So if you think you're going to come in here and knock us around, you've got another thing coming."
After a Patriots fumble, Boldin went back to work, pulling in an 11-yard strike from Flacco to put Baltimore up 28-13 and drive a stake through the hearts of the Patriots.
The Ravens' receiving corps took advantage of a Patriots secondary that lost No. 1 cornerback Aqib Talib midway through the first quarter and began to look lost in the second half, allowing Flacco to finish the game with 240 passing yards (159 in the second half), connecting on 21 of his 36 attempts.
Tight end Dennis Pitta joined Boldin with five catches, while Torrey Smith added four catches for 69 yards.
With a little over six minutes remaining in the third quarter, Pitta came streaking across the middle of the field, caught a 5-yard pass, and was leveled by Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo.
Pitta held on to the ball, bounced back up and was rewarded by his quarterback on the very next play, shaking New England safety Steve Gregory for a touchdown.
The score gave the Ravens a 14-13 lead, and they never looked back.
"You take shots like that sometimes, and that was probably one of the bigger ones that I've taken," Pitta said. "You can't worry about what's going to happen; you just have to focus on catching the football. You know, when you get hit like that you've just got to bounce back up and keep on playing."
Pitta made sure to credit Boldin's presence for much of the Ravens' progress in the receiving game this season.
"To have that kind of veteran leadership with a relatively young receiving corps is huge," Pitta said.
After the game, Boldin spoke about his last trip to the Super Bowl with the Arizona Cardinals and again stated that he would like things to go differently this time.
"I'm looking to finish it off this time around," he said. "I went to the Super Bowl five years ago and lost. That's not the way I want this one to end."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun