Patriots Snap Unbeaten Streak, Lose in Baltimore

 

BALTIMORE, M.D. The Patriots are no longer undefeated, courtesy of Lamar Jackson and the new-look Baltimore Ravens. The Patriots went down early against Baltimore and quickly recovered, but the Patriots offense struggled in the second half.

 

The Patriots received their first challenging road game in a few weeks with the 5-2 Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens were fresh off a commanding 30-16 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, and returned home to tackle the AFC-leading New England Patriots.


Though the names have changed, New England has a contentious history with the Baltimore Ravens and head coach John Harbaugh. The Ravens were a consistent threat in the AFC Playoffs against New England, knocking New England out of the playoffs in the 2009 and 2012 Playoffs. Since then, the Patriots had won the last three regular and postseason meetings against Baltimore.

 

The storyline was simple with this history in mind and Baltimore’s hot start to the 2019 season. The Ravens were a new team with a revamped defense, new quarterback in Lamar Jackson at the helm, and a hunger to unsaddle the undefeated, defending champion Patriots at home.


Baltimore set the game’s tempo early with an aggressive mix of run-pass options and designed running plays for Jackson and running back Mark Ingram. Lamar Jackson’s elusiveness in the pocket and willingness to tuck-and-run meant the Patriots had to account for the quarterback on defense more than they ever had this season.

 

Dual-threat and mobile quarterbacks caused trouble against New England over the years, with names such as Russell Wilson, DeShaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes and Cam Newton either winning or keeping games closer than expected.

 

New England’s defensive scheme was challenged by the speed and power of Baltimore’s run-heavy offense, and Baltimore became the first team this season to run the ball so successfully against New England. The Ravens counted 210 total rushing yards against New England’s top-ranked defense against the run, nearly three times their average yards per game to this point.

 

The first quarter was an early sign that Baltimore’s rushing attack were too strong for New England. Lamar Jackson rushed for Baltimore’s first touchdown, a three-yard score that capped a long, tiring drive for New England’s defense.

 

The lead extended to 17-0 early in the second quarter with another lengthy drive and a 17-yard Gus Edwards rushing touchdown. This was almost the point of no return for the Patriots, though luck and persistence kept them within range in the second quarter.

The Patriots offense drove to Baltimore’s 34-yard line before falling short on third down. Belichick made the choice between a 51-yard field goal attempt by newly-signed kicker Nick Folk, or a short punt that would pin Baltimore deep in their own territory up 17-7. The Patriots elected to punt, and the decision paid off. 


On the second play of the drive, Ravens running back Mark Ingram fumbled the ball for New England to recover, setting up an excellent opportunity for the Patriots offense. The Patriots failed to capitalize on this opportunity beyond a short field goal, though they narrowed the gap to 17-10, Ravens.


Turnovers were the deciding factor in the game. New England punted on their next offensive drive, then former Patriots Cyrus Jones lost control of the punt for Baltimore to set up another open opportunity for New England to crawl back into the game. New England drove to Baltimore’s two-yard line, but elected to kick another field goal to take a 17-13 deficit into halftime.

 

While New England’s second quarter was fortunate, they quickly lost their momentum in the second half. New England started with the ball in the second half and built another solid drive when it was needed, but it was all for naught when receiver Julian Edelman fumbled the ball after a big catch. Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey recovered the ball and ran it back untouched to give Baltimore a 24-13 lead.

 

Despite these mistakes, the game was not yet decided. The Patriots finally reached the end zone with another key drive and a James White rushing touchdown. At 24-20 and eight minutes left in the third quarter, the Patriots started to look like usual. 

 

However, New England’s defense was worn down by this point. A series of key rushing plays set Baltimore to score a game-deciding touchdown pass from Jackson to Nick Boyle. 

 

The Patriots still had time in the fourth quarter, but they were unsuccessful. Ravens safety Earl Thomas intercepted a deep pass from Brady to seal the upset victory for Baltimore.


New England falls to 8-1, still the best in the AFC, and enters a bye week. The Patriots travel to Philadelphia to play the Eagles on Nov. 17 at 4:25 p.m.

 

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