FOXBORO, Mass. — It was a tale of two halves Monday night for the New England Patriots’ special-teams units in their 30-23 win over the Baltimore Ravens.
After blocking a Ravens field-goal attempt and downing a punt at the 1-yard line during the first half, the Patriots turned over the ball on two consecutive returns during a disastrous third-quarter sequence at Gillette Stadium.
Rookie Cyrus Jones committed the first miscue when he allowed a Ravens punt to carom off his foot and roll toward New England’s goal line. Jones chased after the bouncing ball, but Baltimore’s Chris Moore dove on it first, giving the Ravens the ball at the Patriots’ 3-yard line.
The muff continued an unfortunate trend for Patriots’ top draft pick, who has struggled mightily with ball security throughout his first NFL season.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco delivered a touchdown pass to Darren Waller two plays later to cut the Patriots’ lead to 23-10, and things went from bad to worse for New England on the ensuing kickoff.
Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater, who was stationed back deep alongside Jones, caught Justin Tucker’s kick near the goal line, ran it out past the 20-yard line and fumbled the ball. Kyle Juszczyk jarred the ball loose, and Shareece Wright jumped on it, giving Baltimore prime field position once again.
And once again, the Ravens capitalized, embarking on an eight-play drive that culminated in another Flacco touchdown pass. This one made it a one-score game, cutting New England’s advantage to 23-17 with more than 20 minutes left to play.