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“I saw him get crunched,” wide receiver Julian Edelman said. “I’m sure if it was reversed, TB would do the same. (They’re) competitors. Whatever it takes to win that little play, that’s what guys are going to do, especially in an AFC championship game.”

Brady didn’t complain.

“It’s just the way the game was played,” safety James Ihedigbo said. “It’s two teams battling for the AFC championship. There’s going to be those type of hits and it’s all a part of the game. Tom understood that. Everyone on the field knew that. Once you stepped in between those white lines, that’s the type of game that was being played.”

Brady and Lewis had an earlier collision in the first two minutes of the third quarter, and that time, the intense leader of the three-time Super Bowl champs was angry.

On a second-and-one at the Baltimore 46, Brady carried around left tackle for a 4-yard gain. Lewis, who already had started toward him, landed lightly on his back.

Brady came up yelling. Lewis gave it back. But the confrontation was over in seconds.

“It was definitely a physical game,” Edelman said. “That’s what you expect when you play the Baltimore Ravens.”

Green-Ellis felt that early in the second quarter when linebacker Dannell Ellerbe pulled his helmet off as he was running off right guard. As bodies landed around him, Green-Ellis finished with a 1-yard gain and no damage to his unprotected head.

“It’s football,” he said. “Guys are grabbing and scratching and clawing for anything they can get. That was the helmet. That was the part he got. I was able to get away from him. I wasn’t really thinking about anything but moving forward.”

It was clear to Ihedigbo from the start that there would be plenty of blows exchanged.

With so much at stake, the officials were letting two physical teams pound each other.

“Right off the bat, we knew it’s one of those games where they were going to let us play and it was physical on both ends,” Ihedigbo said. “It was really a heavyweight boxing match.”