FOXBORO, Mass. — Blame the New England Patriots’ special teams for making this one a nail-biter.
The Patriots’ offense and defense did their jobs against a suddenly surging Ravens team that had four wins in their last five games, beating Baltimore 30-23 on Monday night at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots’ offense proved it could move the ball against the NFL’s top-ranked defense, and its defense did enough to stop a Ravens offense that has looked spry in recent weeks.
The scoreboard says the Patriots’ defense let up 23 points, but it would have been just nine if not for two special-teams gaffes.
Here are this week’s standout performers, both good and bad.
RB JAMES WHITE
White continued to share snaps with Dion Lewis in the Patriots’ third-down role and made the most of his, with three receptions for 81 yards, including a 61-yard catch-and-run. He also ran the ball twice for 3 yards.
White is among the Patriots’ most improved players this season.
WR CHRIS HOGAN
Hogan helped seal the game with a 79-yard touchdown catch on a deep pass. Quarterback Tom Brady chucked the ball 37 yards, and Hogan ran the extra 42 past every Ravens defender and into the end zone.
Hogan finished the game with five catches on seven targets for 129 yards with the touchdown. Hogan now has 32 receptions for 613 yards and four touchdowns. Safe to say the Buffalo Bills miss him.
TE MARTELLUS BENNETT
Bennett continues to power through ankle and shoulder injuries. He caught four passes for 70 yards, with an impressive touchdown grab over Ravens linebacker Zachary Orr.
Bennett hadn’t done much as a receiver since Week 10. He’ll need to keep up this kind of production without injured Rob Gronkowski in the offense.
DT MALCOM BROWN
Brown gave the Patriots their first points of the game on a safety he shared with safety Patrick Chung. Brown blew up the play by shrugging off fullback Kyle Juszczyk and meeting Kenneth Dixon in the end zone.
DE TREY FLOWERS
Flowers should have been credited for a strip sack and recovery, but the refs bizarrely called Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco down because of forward progress. Flowers still recorded just one of the Patriots’ two sacks on the night.
CB JONATHAN JONES
While fellow rookie cornerback Cyrus Jones struggled, Jones might have earned some additional playing time. He downed a kick at the 1-yard line, leading to Brown’s safety. He also made a 4-yard tackle for loss and didn’t allow a catch on one target defensively.
CB CYRUS JONES
It has reached a critical point for Cyrus Jones, who booted a punt and failed to recover it, giving the Ravens the ball at the Patriots’ 3-yard line. Jones also nearly muffed a punt as he couldn’t seem to decide whether to pick up the ball or let it bounce. He also let up a 47-yard pass down the sideline.
Jones seems a long ways away from being a useful player for the Patriots, so they probably should stop using him.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images