Last night's Patriots win wasn't in anyway pretty, but the effort was there as the Patriots were able to top the Ravens 23-17 in a wet one at Gillette Stadium on Sunday Night Football to compile their second straight win and get right back into the thick of things in the AFC Playoff Picture. Plus any hopes of a division title did improve with the Bills loss to the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon.
The first quarter was a little back and forth as both the Patriots and Ravens offense had a tough time developing anything productive on offense, until late in the first when the Ravens were driving. Ultimately the Ravens were able to break through early in the second quarter to cap off their drive which was a Lamar Jackson pass to Willie Snead IV and took a 7-0 lead. However, the Patriots came right back as they marched down the field themselves, capped off by a Cam Newton touchdown pass (yes, you read that correctly) to Rex Burkhead that capped off a seven play, 75 yard drive to tie the game at seven.
After Baltimore took the 10-7 lead with a field goal, Patriots came right back and took the lead with a touchdown pass from Jakobi Meyers to Rex Burkhead that accumulated 24 yards, that gave the Patriots a 13-10 lead. The Pats picked off Jackson to close out the first half. Opening drive of the second half, the Patriots quickly went down the field and took a two possession lead over the Ravens after a four-yard rush by Newton, that gave the Patriots a 20-10 lead. Nick Folk would add on a field goal mid-way through the third quarter to go up 23-10.
Late in the third quarter the Ravens would cut into the deficit, as Jackson found Snead IV again for an 18-yard touchdown pass and the Ravens were suddenly down by just six points entering the fourth quarter. Both teams traded punts in the last 15 minutes. One last desperation drive the Ravens, and it failed as Baltimore turned it over on downs and the secured the Patriots fourth win on the season and their second consecutive win.
As mentioned earlier, it was a sloppy game all in all, not only with the heavy rain and wind barreling down on the field but also the play from both teams. Whether it came down to mental mistakes, poor play calling and execution, bad snaps and much more, the game had it all.
The Patriots secondary for the most part had a great game as they were able to shut down Jackson's targets for much of the game, with the exception of a few big plays and the two touchdowns. However, the bright spot was the Patriots rush defense has they held Jackson and others in check on the ground. Jackson rushed or only 55 yards, while running backs Gus Edwards, J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram all rushed for a combined 60 yards. The Pats forced Jackson to throw the ball more than usual as he went 24/34 with 2 touchdowns and the one interception.
The Patriots offense proved again for the third straight week that they can move the ball down the field and chew up some clock, the problem that remains for New England is the inability to do it consistently, but the difference we are seeing from the Patriots from the last three weeks, that we did not see between weeks 4-7 was the ability to finish drives and come away with some points, and that is something the offense has been able to do. Whether that comes down to play calling or Cam Newton is finally starting to click in this revamped Patriots offense, either way, the offensive game plans are starting to work and the execution is there.
The play calling from Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels has still been questionable at best when it comes to certain situations on the field but the defense has been able to make plays recently to cover up those mistakes.
We still have to remember that the offensive holes are much more visible now than they were a year ago. Then again, the Patriots had some guy by the name of Tom Brady who was able to cover up those blemishes. Now it is up to the defense to bail the offense out and get the opposing offense off the field, something the Patriots defense did a great job of in the fourth quarter Monday night.
It's the tale of two seasons now for the Patriots now as we look at the Patriots record before and after they played the Ravens for the ninth game of the season. Last year, the Patriots entered Baltimore at an 8-0 mark until they suffered their first loss that game 34-20. After that game the Patriots went 4-4 the rest of the way, which includes the Wild Card Playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Heading into this game with the Ravens, the Pats were 3-5, on the cusp of being a contending team or a team in danger of being outside the playoff picture by Week 13. Since that Week 9 game last season, including playoffs, the Patriots went 7-9 in that time span. It was the Ravens game that really derailed the Patriots season as they suddenly had trouble scoring. Maybe this could be the turn around the Patriots needed. After nearly escaping New York with a three point win but a momentum builder, to come home and outlast the Ravens at home to keep the monkey off the their back, should a be a tone setter for the final seven games of the season.
The Patriots visit the 2-7 Houston Texans on Sunday, where the Patriots will try to get back to the .500 mark on the season and be right in the thick of the playoff picture.