The Patriots’ bid for yet another undefeated season ended last night, as they were defeated 37-20 by Lamar Jackson and the Ravens (6-2). The Patriots were uneven on both sides of the ball, and fell behind early, with a couple second-half turnovers putting the game out of reach. This loss drops the Pats to 8-1 on the season, and reduces their lead in the AFC to 1.5 games.
Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s game.
1. The Patriots’ defense finally had a dud
I’m not going to be a reactionary person, and say that the Patriots’ defense got “exposed” last night, because I don’t think that it gives the Ravens’ offense the credit they deserve. Bill Belichick’s unit is still an elite defense, but Baltimore’s offense was simply better last night, as they were able to out-scheme the Patriots, and win the game due to their power rushing attack. After giving up only 27 points in their last 3 games, the Patriots were gashed by Baltimore for 4 touchdowns. Mark Ingram (15 carries for 115 yards) and Lamar Jackson (16 carries for 61 yards and 2 touchdowns) combined to form a potent rushing attack that accounted for the brunt of Baltimore’s 210 rushing yards. The Ravens’ offensive line was excellent throughout the game, as they effectively cleared lanes for their rushers to run through. This performance (coupled with what Cleveland did to the Patriots in Week 8) may serve as a blueprint for opponents to attack New England down the stretch.
The Patriots’ secondary had a good performance, as they limited Jackson to 163 passing yards, and didn’t allow any receivers to eclipse 50 yards, but they could not force stops in the game’s crucial moments. Jackson is simply a superior athlete, and his agility and maneuverability were on full display last night, as he navigated the pocket with ease, with the Pats only sacking him once and hitting him thrice.
At the same time, the Pats’ defense was able to give the team a crucial spark when they forced Ingram to fumble inside Baltimore’s 20, which led to points for the Patriots’ offense. As most analysts noted, a lot of the Patriots’ struggles last night can be fixed with coaching, as they made unusual mental errors such as penalties that extended Baltimore’s drives and dampened their chances of winning.
These tweets by reporters sum up why we shouldn’t be overreacting to one bad performance by the Patriots’ defense.
This game was definitely a wake up call for the Patriots’ defense, and I am sure that Bill Belichick will be working on ways to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.
2. Good offensive performance that was marred by turnovers
The Patriots’ offense started off yesterday’s game very slow, which quickly resulted in a 17-0 deficit that appeared to spell an imminent rout by Baltimore. The Ravens were ultimately able to run away with the game, but it is not fair to say that the Patriots’ offense had a bad performance. Following two recovered fumbles by special teams and the defense, Tom Brady and the offense were able to cut their deficit to 7 points. They were able to move the ball down the field with ease when they quickened their pace, which made it harder for Baltimore to get into blitz packages or make effective substitutions. It was heavily encouraging to see Mohamed Sanu get involved early and often, as he totaled 8 receptions for 81 yards, and scored a touchdown. Sanu has clearly built some chemistry with Brady, which is something the team will have to improve upon as the season progresses. Julian Edelman was his normal self, as he had 10 receptions for 89 yards, and was a matchup problem for Baltimore’s corners throughout the game.
At the end of the day, it’s easy to forget what Edelman and Sanu accomplished last night, due to their involvement in the two turnovers that sealed the game for the Ravens. During the opening drive of the second half, the Patriots were down 17-13, and appeared to be driving to take the lead when Edelman caught a pass from Brady, ducked a tackle and fought for more yardage, when Baltimore forced a fumble that was recovered by Marlon Humphrey for a 70 yard touchdown. The Patriots were able to score a touchdown on their next drive, which cut the lead to 4 once again. Later on in the fourth quarter, and trailing 30-20, New England attempted to mount a comeback when Brady uncorked a deep ball to Sanu that was intercepted by Earl Thomas and returned for 24 yards. Observers noted that Sanu didn’t appear to be fully committed to the route, and didn’t chase after Thomas at full speed, which enabled him to give the Ravens’ offense great field position.
Despite certain “experts” in the media claiming that this game proved why the Pats are declining, I believe that there are several positives for Josh McDaniels to build off of, as the offense becomes more whole over the next few weeks (with the imminent returns of N’Keal Harry and Isaiah Wynn to the lineup).
- Passing: Tom Brady- 30/46 for 285 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception
- Rushing: James White – 9 carries for 38 yards, and 1 touchdown
- Receiving: Julian Edelman – 10 receptions for 89 yards
- Defensive: Dont’a Hightower – 13 total tackles
- Passing: Lamar Jackson – 17/23 for 163 yards, and 1 touchdown
- Rushing: Mark Ingram II – 15 carries for 115 yards
- Receiving: Marquise Brown – 3 receptions for 48 yards
- Defensive: Marcus Peters – 8 total tackles
What’s next?: The Patriots have their bye week in Week 10, which should give them plenty of time to fix the errors from this game, and plan ahead for Week 10’s bout with the Philadelphia Eagles (5-4).