|Brady and the Pats keep finding ways to win, and they now sit at 12-0.(Courtesy of NFL.com)
Another week, another heart attack for Patriots fans. The Patriots used all nine lives Monday night with an improbable fourth quarter comeback to beat the Ravens. Baltimore had seemingly ended the Patriots perfect season on a fourth and one with less than two minutes left, but a sideline timeout negated the stop and the rest is recent history. Here’s what we learned in the Patriots victory:
- When given the motivation, the Ravens can still bring the heat: Despite coming in losers of five straight games, the Ravens defense gave the Patriots all they could handle. The pressure was high, the coverage was strong and the emotions were off the chart. The Pats ran the ball pretty effectively considering how tough it is to run on the Ravens, but Baltimore kept Moss and Welker from hurting them too much. Their defensive game plan was solid and they executed it near flawlessly.
- The Patriots were hurt by dropped balls: Every team is susceptible to a dropped ball here or there, but the Patriots dropped an inordinate amount of passes Monday night, none bigger than Ben Watson’s in the end zone on the opening drive. After Brady scrambled for what seemed like 30 seconds on third and goal, Watson found space in the back of the end zone but dropped the ball and the Pats settled for a 21-yard field goal. A touchdown would have taken the crowd out of the game and the moral victory gave the Ravens hope.
- The Patriots run defense was a sieve: It’s tough to point to a game where a running back ran with more passion and emotion than Willis McGahee on Monday night. The death of his college teammate and close friend Sean Taylor had McGahee running with reckless abandon. What helped his case was a Patriots defense who routinely lost the battles in the trenches and allowed the Ravens offensive line to push them around. On Sportscenter, Rodney Harrisonpointed out that since he’s been with the Patriots, the run defense has never been dominated like last night, and I agree.
- The referees were not the reason the Ravens lost: There will be lots of talk that the referees cost the Ravens the game, and even one going so far as accusing officials of talking back (one Raven defensive back claims the head field judge consistently called him “boy”). It’s true that the Ravens had a lot of penalties against them, but the loss was of their own doing. Boller throwing a hideous interception on the Patriots 35 with seven minutes left, the timeout by the coaching staff before the fourth and one stop, and what people forget, the fourth and six conversion where Brady scrambled for 12 yards to keep the drive alive. The defensive holding penalty against Ben Watson in the end zone was indeed a penalty, Gaffney’s catch was far too close to overturn, and what most people didn’t see was on the last play of the game – a Kyle Boller Hail Mary which was caught at the two – Asante Samuel was literally tackled by a Ravens wide receiver without a call, allowing Derek Mason to pull it in. The Ravens had ample chances to put the game away (three consecutive three and outs in the fourth quarter) but in the end, the Patriots persevered and now are four games away from a perfect season.
Next up is the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette next Sunday at 4:15pm. On paper, it looks to be the toughest game left for the 12-0 Pats. Yours truly will be there.
Tags: Baltimore Ravens, Patriots