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I know it's hard today but rather than assess blame over last night's near-miss against New England, Ravens fans should be handing out some credit.

The scheme devised by defensive coordinator Rex Ryan held the Patriots' offense in check better than any team has so far this season -- Tom Brady was below a 50 percent completion average and sacked three times. Kyle Boller played an efficient and gutsy game, completing 15 of 23 passes for 210 yards, two touchdowns and an interception while standing the face of a hard rush and taking shots on many completions. Linebacker Bart Scott led the team with six solo tackles, eight total.

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And yet today there is understandable lament. Over Ryan apparently calling the last-second timeout that negated Baltimore's fourth-down stand on New England's winning drive. Over Boller throwing an overly ambitious pass earlier in the fourth that was intercepted by the Patriots at the New England 1-yard line. Over Scott taking two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties after the Patriots' winning TD that made the task of a desperation comeback even more difficult. And over safety Ed Reed's interception and 33-yard return near the end of the first half that turned into a Baltimore giveaway when he was stripped of the ball.

We acknowledge all those things and yet what we came away with was that the Ravens played with a sense of pride and command. So often this season, you wondered about those things. But last night, with the Ravens' defense almost intact for one of the few times this year (Trevor Pryce, of course, is out the year), Baltimore looked like the confusing, menacing group it was a season ago. And Boller, save for one pass, may have played the best game of his career against perhaps the toughest opponent. The question is this: Was last night a collective adrenaline high or something more lasting -- an evening when the defense rediscovered itself and the Ravens found its quarterback?

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