Lamar Jackson, Ravens show the Patriots are beatable after all

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.

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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.

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Lamar Jackson with the Baltimore Ravens
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Lamar Jackson with the Baltimore Ravens
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: Lamar Jackson of Louisville poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #32 overall by the Baltimore Ravens during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 18: Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens is tackled as he carries the ball by free safety Jessie Bates #30 of the Cincinnati Bengals in the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on November 18, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - NOVEMBER 25: Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens rushes for a touchdown in the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at M&T Bank Stadium on November 25, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 02: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens reacts after their 26-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 2, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 2: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens is interviewed after the game against the Atlanta Falcons by Tracy Wolfson as ZaDarius Smith #90 joins in at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 2, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - JANUARY 06: Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens stiff arms free safety Derwin James #33 of the Los Angeles Chargers in the second half during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium on January 06, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 08: Willie Snead #83 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates with Lamar Jackson #8 after scoring a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins during the second quarter at Hard Rock Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens shakes hands with a young fan prior to the game against the Arizona Cardinals at M&T Bank Stadium on September 15, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 29: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens looks on after a play against the Cleveland Browns during the second half at M&T Bank Stadium on September 29, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
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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.

Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards (35) runs for a 12-yard touchdown in the second quarter against the New England Patriots. (Getty Images)

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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