The Patriots now fall to 1-2 on the season, the first time they’ve been under .500 since holding a 3-4 record in Week 8 in 2002 — 10 years.
Torrey Smith is the star of this one, though, grabbing six passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns on the way to the 31-30 win.
Joe Flacco slung the ball around fairly well and found a solid rhythm with Smith throughout the win. Ray Rice had a big night, too, rushing for over 100 yards for the first time this season and grabbing five passes and 49 yards.
Tom Brady was poised and had the precision pin-point all evening long. A terrific 28 of 41 for 335 yards and a touchdown, but in the end he was just unable to lead the Patriots to the first down needed to win.
There were plenty of controversial calls, including the final play, but the pass interference penalties were just so inconsistent on both sides and it definitely had an impact in the outcome.
Fourth Quarter, 1:51, Patriots 30-28:That third down was key and now the Ravens have a prime opportunity to get the game-winning score.
The Patriots defense, which has been inconsistent all night, will need to step up big time and really take it to the Ravens to ensure a win. Can they do it?
Fourth Quarter, 4:01, Patriots 30-28: Torrey Smith is unbelievable.
I know that last year, Smith was mainly known as a deep threat but he’s been playing absolutely out of his mind tonight.
If this isn’t a Brett Favre-esque performance in memory of his brother, then I don’t know what would ever qualify.
Patriots fans or not, you’ve got to respect what Smith is doing and the courage it must take to go out there with so much sadness trapped inside. Unbelievable amounts of respect.
Fourth Quarter, 7:49, Patriots 30-21: Man, I respect Deion Branch as much as anyone. But after seeing him take a beating time and again tonight, think he’s reconsidering his decision to come back?
His back definitely didn’t hurt as much on his couch as it will tomorrow morning in the ice tub. Let’s see if he can make a catch without being decapitated or knocked unconscious.
Fourth Quarter, 10:49, Patriots 30-21: Chandler Jones has been all but a ghost for the majority of the night, but that fourth down stop was all CJ95.
Jones, who has had a sack in each of the first two games, has been stifled by Bryant McKinnie for much of the game and is finding it difficult to get anywhere near the backfield or Joe Flacco.
That key fourth down stop shows even more promise for the young stud, though. He’s so strong and fast and even more importantly seems committed to the Patriots defensive system and becoming a key piece in the winning formula.
Fourth Quarter, 14:19, Patriots 30-21: The Patriots were looking to really put a firm stamp on the lead, but instead of punching it in with a touchdown, the Patriots tacked on another field goal to take the 30-21 lead.
Gostkowski nailed his third field goal of the night, this time from 20 yards out, to tack on enough to make it a two-score game.
The New England defense will now be key in holding the Ravens from reaching the end zone and to get the ball back into the locked-in Brady’s hands once again.
End Third Quarter, Patriots 27-21: Danny Woodhead got the majority of the carries in that third quarter and he made the most of it, scoring a touchdown to bring the lead back to New England.
Stevan Ridley’s return to the field also provided a strong power running game and is flexing out the offense as well, giving Brady more options down the field.
After some serious struggles at the beginning of the half, the Patriots defense also turned a corner and has been shutting down Joe Flacco since.
The key going forward is to keep Ray Rice from getting a head of steam and controlling the tempo and to keep Brady hitting his targets in stride.
Third Quarter, 5:08, Patriots 27-21: The Patriots defense got sliced up on the first drive of the second half, but McCourty seems to be settling in the defensive backfield.
McCourty, Gregory and Arrington seem to have a good handle on the Ravens receiver, aside from Torrey Smith that is.
Smith has been beasting on the Patriots all night, he’s now got four catches for 106 yards and one touchdown on the night.
Third Quarter, 6:48, Patriots 27-21: Where’s Stevan Ridley? Apparently, it doesn’t matter.
Danny Woodhead was featured through the entire first drive of the second half and gets the bone for his effort. Ridley was no where to be found, but he’ll be back.
Woodhead busted his way down the field, racking up 30 yards along the way and filling the void for Edelman, who is questionable to return.
Meanwhile, Tom Brady looks about as good as he has all season. Brady is 19 for 27 with 255 yards and has been extremely precise with his targets.
Third Quarter, 12:15, Ravens 21-20: Joe Flacco dipped and dunked his way into Patriots territory and then used a big toss to Torrey Smith to get the Ravens into the red zone.
Flacco did the work and then Ray Rice got the reward, bulldozing his way into the end zone to give the Ravens the lead back.
Rice now has 78 yards on 15 carries on the night and scored his third touchdown of the year.
The Patriots defense needs to tighten up and keep Baltimore out of the red zone and off the board. Tom Brady can’t do it all here, fellas.
10:15 p.m.: The Patriots have a lot of work to do in the second half, but mainly the need is to find some more consistency on offense and maintain a strong hold on the Ravens receivers in the defensive backfield.
Rob Gronkowski hasn’t been heard from much and Devin McCourty obviously made the big blunder on the second TD drive, but who needs to step up biggest to ensure a Patriots win in the second half?
End Second Quarter, Patriots 20-14: Tom Brady got off to a hot start from the get go in Baltimore, but a brief cooling period nearly saw the momentum shift permanently.
Brady was able to regroup the offense at the end of the first half, though, throwing his way down the field with the help of Wes Welker, who has been a beast with three catches and 96 yards in this one.
Julian Edelman has played a bigger role in the passing attack as well, finding himself targeted seven times — the most of any Patriots receiver — and really filling in the same role that Hernandez usually does.
The defense was strong as it has been in years for much of the first half, but some lackadaisical tackling from McCourty and allowing Rice to bust through the middle and control the pace of the game.
Joe Flacco has thrown a pair of touchdown passes to get the Ravens on the board, but the true highlight was seeing a devastated Torrey Smith to catch a touchdown pass and pay respect to his fallen brother inside the end zone.
Second Quarter, 0:02, Patriots 20-14: Tom Brady doesn’t accept being second best, and that touchdown pass just goes to prove it even more.
Wes Welker made a few great grabs to get the Patriots down the field, but it was Edelman’s seven-yard grab that ultimately brought in the touchdown to take the 20-14 lead.
Second Quarter, 1:47, Ravens 14-13: That 13-point lead seems like ages ago at this point.
Joe Flacco slides one in to Dennis Pitta and suddenly the Ravens have overcome the 13-0 deficit to take 14-13 lead near the end of the first half.
The throw was impressive, but Devin McCourty’s lack of effort on the tackle was miserable. After locking up some great tackled earlier in the game, that was just a horrid attempt.
Second Quarter, 6:36, Patriots 13-7: The Patriots had a cushy little 13-0 lead and it looked like they were going to run away with this one. As Lee Corso would say, not so fast my friend.
Ray Rice and the Ravens offense found some consistency and the Baltimore defense has been stifling Brady and the Pats passing attack over the past few drives.
After a great grab down the middle of the field, Edelman was crushed on an end around and saw the Patriots offense finished on that series. The momentum could be shifting quickly in the Ravens favor, so the Patriots better find their rhythm again and fast.
Second Quarter, 9:45, Patriots 13-7: Torrey Smith took a knee and prayed looking up to the sky as he hauled in a touchdown pass to bring the Ravens back within one score of the Patriots.
Smith, whose brother passed away late Saturday night, found himself open over the top of the Patriots secondary and brought in a 25-yard touchdown to bring the Patriots lead down to 13-7.
You’ve just got to be really happy for Smith, especially after going through so much trauma and still deciding to play for his team here on Sunday. Talk about a kid with character.
Second Quarter, 11:28, Patriots 13-0: Joe Flacco has been incredibly accurate with his throws in the first half, but the Patriots secondary has been keeping the Baltimore receivers at bay.
Devin McCourty has done a great job shutting down Anquan Boldin, allowing the receiver two catches for 17 yards, and Torrey Smith has still been without a grab.
Pat Chung deep over the top and Kyle Arrington in the nickel packages have been really shutting down the Ravens offensive attack.
End First Quarter, Patriots 13-0: Tom Brady went just 7 of 12 for 75 yards during the first half last week, this week there’s a totally different story.
Brady is 8 of 12 for 123 yards and seems to just be slicing through the Ravens secondary, utilizing all his options in the passing game.
Brandon Lloyd has been a pleasant surprise and a bright spot for the Patriots, especially given his limited availability in practice this week and uncertain status heading into this game.
The defense has been solid as well, standing up to the fast paced attack of the Ravens and keeping Flacco’s arm at bay.
First Quarter, 0:35, Patriots 13-0:The Patriots offense may have looked all but dead against the Cardinals, but apparently they’re up for this one in Baltimore.
Brady is picking apart the Ravens secondary and just gives the Pats a bigger lead as Gostkowski sends a 49-yarder through the uprights that arguably looks like it could have been good from 60.
First Quarter, 5:55, Patriots 10-0: New England’s 10-0 lead is a show of how strong the Patriots offense has been at the start of this one. But the defense has been just as important, if not more so, to the commanding lead.
Vince Wilfork is clogging up every hole that Ray Rice has been looking for and Stevan Gregory and the secondary have been closing in on receivers with every toss from Joe Flacco.
This defense seems to be far improved over last season, and with some veteran additions to the unit this team could be heading for elite status.
First Quarter,7:09, Patriots 10-0: Stevan Gregory was a great pickup for the Patriots secondary during the offseason.
For a team that struggled so mightily in the defensive backfield last season, Gregory’s experience and instincts add a lot of depth and ability to the defense.
Brandon Bolden also seems like a great addition, even if it were as a free agent pickup after the draft. Obviously, he seems to be a bigger part of this offense around the goal line as well, scoring a one-yard touchdown to put the Patriots up 10-0 in the early going here.
First Quarter, 7:52, Patriots 3-0: Wes Welker may not have gotten the start for the second straight week, but that doesn’t mean he’s any less productive.
After getting Edelman involved in the early going, Brady found Welker down the left sideline for a 59-yard gain and to get the Pats into the red zone.
Edelman will likely find his way into the consistent rotation, at least it appears that way so far, but Welker is still an integral part of this passing attack.
New England was unable to get into the end zone, but Stephen Gostkowski nailed a 37-yard field goal to get the scoring going with a 3-0 lead for the Patriots.
First Quarter,12:40: The no-huddle offense looked to be paying off for the Patriots in the early going, but the pressure ended up getting to Brady and company as the Patriots didn’t do much after a quick first down to Brandon Lloyd.
It looks like Julian Edelman will be picking up some of Aaron Hernandez responsibilities for the Patriots, though, as he looks to be set up in a similar catch and run fashion on the first drive.
Brady will need to avoid the pass rush and the offensive line will really need to step it up if they expect to get this offense off and rolling.
8:20 p.m.: The Patriots have plenty of questions surrounding the team after falling to a crushing defeat at the hands of the Cardinals last Sunday.
Tom Brady will undoubtedly rebound from the dismal showing, but will the Patriots be able to cope without one of their premier targets?
Here’s three things to keep an eye on for Sunday night’s game in Baltimore.
1. Who will step up in place of Aaron Hernandez? – Hernandez’s loss was a brutal blow for the Pats, but the depth of New England’s receiving corps should see someone step up to make up for the production he leaves behind. Wes Welker and Deion Branch will be looked toward to fill that void and don’t be surprised to see Daniel Fells get some good reps in two tight end sets either.
2. Can the secondary hold up? – Devin McCourty and the Patriots secondary have been stellar for the most part of the 2012 season, and the defensive backfield is looking forward to another opportunity to solidify themselves against the Ravens.
3. Will the offensive line hold up? – Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly and Sebastian Vollmer are all dinged up to an extent, so can the Patriots hang with Baltimore’s aggressive pass rush if their line isn’t healthy?
7:10 p.m.: The Patriots aren’t fully healthy heading into Sunday night’s clash with the Ravens, given Aaron Hernandez’s absence, but all of their key players will be active for game time.
Brandon Lloyd, who had been limited with a thigh issue, and Logan Mankins, who was having hip trouble, will both be active for Sunday night’s game.
Shane Vereen, who has missed both of the Patriots first two games this season, will once again be inactive for the Pats. Unlike Vereen, Daniel Fells will be active for the Patriots for the first time since joining the team in the offseason.
As for the Ravens, Torrey Smith, whose brother was killed in a motorcycle accident on Saturday, will be in the lineup for the Ravens after some debate about his status heading into the game.
Check out the full inactive list for the Patriots below.
RB Shane Vereen (foot)
DE Jake Bequette
OL Nick McDonald (shoulder)
TE Aaron Hernandez (ankle)
DE Justin Francis (ankle)
DL Brandon Deaderick (ankle)
CB Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring)
6:26 p.m.: After dealing with the death of his brother over the weekend, Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith was uncertain for Sunday’s game against the Patriots. His status is no longer a question, though.
Smith, a talented, second-year wideout from Maryland, was devastated by the loss of his brother on Saturday but apparently he will be suiting up for Baltimore on Sunday and pay homage to his brother.
The decision is an admirable one, especially considering the grave circumstances surrounding the uncertainty. Much like Brett Favre’s epic Monday night performance the day after his father passed away some years ago, I expect Smith to come out with a streak of fire and rage and just take over the passing game for the Ravens.
Torrey Smith is now on the field warming up with his teammates.
— Ravens RapidReports (@CBSRavens) September 23, 2012
5:49 p.m.: Tom Brady is headlining Sunday night’s prime time bout between the Ravens and Patriots, and apparently the game is being promoted as such.
As the two teams prepare for the AFC Championship Game repeat, Brady finds himself donning the primary poster marketing the game, at least in New England.
The people at NBC Sports Sunday Night Football tweeted out a photo of a stoic-looking Brady looking ready to get the action going.
Check out the tweet from SNF on NBC.
— SNF on NBC (@SNFonNBC) September 23, 2012
Photo via Twitter/@SNFonNBC
5:36 p.m.: The Patriots are at M&T Bank Stadium, gearing up for what should be a wild night of football.
The field in Baltimore in primed and proper for an invasion from Tom Brady and the Patriots offense.
Meanwhile, Joe Flacco and the Ravens are looking to exact some revenge for their brutal loss in the AFC Championship Game last January.
A rivalry is brewing in Baltimore and we’re getting pumped up for some Patriots action in a little less than three hours.
Check out the field view from the press box below.
Photo via Twitter/@JeffpHowe
5:05 p.m.: The Patriots will be without Aaron Hernandez on Sunday, and likely for the near future, but they’ve got replacement — not refs — locked and loaded for the Sunday night showdown.
Kellen Winslow, who signed in New England on Tuesday, is expected to fill the void for Hernandez and allow Brady and the offense to maintain its consistent flow.
Winslow, much like recently re-signed receiver Deion Branch, is expected to play on Sunday against the Ravens in hopes of stealing one from their foes in Baltimore.
8 a.m. ET: After an ugly offensive performance in the last Sunday’s crushing loss to the Cardinals, Tom Brady and the Patriots added a few key pieces this week to try to bolster their passing attack.
The loss of Aaron Hernandez, at least for a few weeks, is going to to sting, but the additions of veteran tight end Kellen Winslow and long-time friend Deion Branch should help to ease the pain. Both players had been biding their time on the free agent market since the end of training camp, but with a big showdown with the Ravens coming Sunday night, the time was finally right for them in New England.
The Ravens, too, are coming off a tough one-point loss to the Eagles last week. A critical replay reversal turned their fortunes for the worse, and now both squads enter their Sunday night tilt at an underwhelming 1-1.
Joe Flacco and the Ravens’ offense have turned over a new leaf in the early going of 2012, enacting a fast-paced no-huddle attack and utilizing the speed of receiver Torrey Smith deep downfield. The deep threat adds a new element to Baltimore’s attack and could expose a New England secondary still riddled with uncertainty.
Ray Rice will undoubtedly be someone to keep an eye on. But with big Vince Wilfork and the versatile Jerod Mayo clogging up the middle of the defense, the Patriots should be able to control the speedy tailback.
The big question will be how Brady and the Patriots’ offense adjust without Hernandez. Wes Welker is expected to play a much bigger role in the slot, and Julian Edelman should find his snaps cut with Branch’s return.
Sunday should bring plenty of fun around the NFL with the Texans in Denver, the Eagles in Arizona and Atlanta headed to San Diego, but Patriots-Ravens will still be the game of the weekend.
Catch all the action Sunday night with kickoff set for 8:20 p.m., and be sure to keep it here with the NESN.com Patriots Live Blog for all your Patriots news, notes and analysis.