There is adding bulletin board material before a big game, and there's what Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo said over social media as the New England Patriots were closing in on a rematch with Baltimore in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday.
UPDATE: Monday, January 14, 12:45 p.m. ET
On Monday morning, Ayanbadejo tweeted out this retraction and apology of his comments made Sunday night:
I made selfish comments on twitter last night that reflected poorly upon myself, my teammates, and the organization. For that I apologize.— Brendon Ayanbadejo (@brendon310) January 14, 2013
---End of Update---
Using Twitter, Ayanbadejo attacked the Patriots' no-huddle offense, brought up Spygate and the team's controversial decision to cut Tiquan Underwood on the eve of the Super Bowl last season, and even mentioned New England's 18-1 season that ended with a loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.
Ayanbadejo's rant was exactly what the Ravens didn't need before one of the biggest games in the franchise's history, a rematch that could either send Baltimore to a second-ever Super Bowl or go down as the final game for linebacker Ray Lewis.
Tweets have never won or lost a football game, but poking at a franchise like New England through social media is never wise, especially in the way the Ravens' backup linebacker did during the Patriots' eventual 41-28 win over the Houston Texans.
Here are Ayanbadejo's tweets in order as they appeared Sunday:
New England does some suspect stuff on offense. Can't really respect it. Comparable to a cheap shot b4 a fight— Brendon Ayanbadejo (@brendon310) January 13, 2013
Are you watching the game pats vs texans? If so you see the hurry snap offense catch em b4 they set up. It's a gimmick.— Brendon Ayanbadejo (@brendon310) January 13, 2013
You know the same organization that did spygate and cut a guy the day b4 the Super Bowl— Brendon Ayanbadejo (@brendon310) January 13, 2013
18-1— Brendon Ayanbadejo (@brendon310) January 13, 2013
If there's any team to avoid pouring gasoline on the pregame fire, it's the Patriots. And when some New England players were informed of what Ayanbadejo said postgame, the response was exactly what you'd expect from the Patriots.
Via Mike Garafolo of USA Today:
"I can't speak for everybody, but me personally I'm not on the social network, Facebook, none of that," cornerback Aqib Talib said. "So that's in one ear and out the other."
"It's always settled on Sundays," guard Logan Mankins said.
"We've got other things to worry about, like who to block, how to run a route, what routes we're running," tight end Michael Hoomanawanui said.
The fact that this is already a heated rivalry adds another layer with Ayanbadejo's comments, and Baltimore can only hope the words do not backfire in a game that means so much.
Here's a quick rundown of the recent history:
- Baltimore nearly upset New England during the undefeated regular season in 2007, falling by a field goal after back-to-back personal fouls by linebacker Bart Scott allowed Tom Brady to throw the game-winning touchdown pass.
- In January of 2010, the Ravens got their revenge. In the Wild Card Round of the AFC playoffs, Baltimore ran over the Patriots from start to finish before leaving New England with a 33-14 win. Ray Rice's 83-yard touchdown on the first play set up the blowout.
- Last season, Baltimore's Lee Evans nearly corralled a go-ahead touchdown pass in the waning seconds before Billy Cundiff's potentially game-tying kick missed badly. The Patriots escaped, advancing to Super Bowl XLVI in the process.
- This season, Ravens kicker Justin Tucker found the range from 27 yards out to beat New England, 31-30. Head coach Bill Belichick ran on the field to protest a call, grabbing an official as he was trying to leave the field.
Given the recent history, a Patriots-Ravens AFC Championship Game didn't need Ayanbadejo's comments to be compelling.
Now, however, the Ravens will have to go on the road to beat a talented Patriots team who will certainly hear about the jabs this week from one of the game's best-ever motivators.