National Football League
          === 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.
 12/22 23:44:29 ET