Everyone who was hoping for some sign that the New England Patriots won’t walk into another Super Bowl this season got their wish on Sunday night.
The Patriots aren’t going 16-0. There was finally a sign that someone in the AFC could compete with them this season, as the Baltimore Ravens jumped on the Patriots early and cruised to a 37-20 victory over New England. Baltimore is 6-2, just behind the 8-1 Patriots with the tiebreaker in hand. The Patriots had allowed 34 points over their previous four games, and 7.6 points per game. It was shocking to see them allow 37 to the Ravens. Lamar Jackson is clearly in the MVP race after the victory.
Patriots haters can celebrate for at least a week. You’ll hear a lot of gloating about what happened to the Patriots once they faced a real team, even if that’s more than a bit misguided.
Lamar Jackson made plays vs. Patriots
The Patriots’ defense had a unique challenge, because the Ravens have a unique offense due to Jackson’s talent. Jackson started fast, and his 3-yard touchdown run capped a 75-yard drive. It was then clear this wouldn’t be another Patriots romp.
Jackson was good. He had 63 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and was 17 of 23 for 163 yards passing. He was the Ravens’ best player, but many teammates pitched in. It was going to take a team effort to beat the undefeated Patriots.
The Patriots played a lot of zone in the middle of the field against Jackson and mostly did a good job containing him, but Jackson is hard to stop. It’s hard to make other NFL athletes look bad, but Jackson does it on a regular basis. A few times he bailed out the Ravens with a big play, whether it was throwing or running. If the Patriots face the Ravens again in the playoffs, they’ll likely have a better game plan. And Jackson is such a great talent, the Ravens could beat them anyway. He was the key figure on Sunday night.
But the biggest play was a rare mistake by one of the Patriots’ best players.
Patriots’ rally thwarted by fumble
New England got off to a bad start but settled down and by the third quarter, it looked like the Patriots might get the comeback win.
Then Julian Edelman fumbled. Ravens linebacker Patrick Onwuasor made a fantastic play to strip Edelman as he was bringing him down. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey had a gift bounce into his arms, and he returned it 70 yards for a touchdown. The Patriots trailed 17-13 and were driving at the time of the fumble. Humphrey’s touchdown made it 24-13 and that was the turning point. Edelman hadn’t lost a fumble since 2016, and had just five in his career before that play.
Those who want to discount the Patriots’ start due to their schedule ignore they destroyed the Pittsburgh Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger, and also won on the road against a Buffalo Bills team that will likely get a wild-card spot. It’s also true New England has had a soft schedule overall. They dominated that schedule, but there hadn’t been many tests.
The Ravens were a big test. And for the first time this season, it looked like perhaps New England shouldn’t be penciled into Super Bowl LIV.
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