The New England Patriots went conservative on two trips deep into the Baltimore Ravens’ red zone Sunday night, settling for field goals from the 1- and 4-yard line rather than trying for touchdowns.
Both kicks came late in the second quarter while New England was attempting to rally back from an early 17-point deficit. That comeback bid ultimately proved unsuccessful, as the Ravens prevailed 37-20 at M&T Bank Stadium to hand the Patriots their first loss of the season.
During an appearance Monday on WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni & Fauria,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked to explain the thought process behind the second of newcomer Nick Folk’s two field goals — a 19-yarder in the final seconds of the first half.
A touchdown in that situation would have tied the game at 17-17 entering halftime. But after running back James White was stopped just shy of the goal line on third down, and with the Patriots set to receive the second-half kickoff, Belichick took the points.
“We had the ball at the start of the second half,” the coach explained on the radio program. “It was a seven-point game at that point. Of course, we would have liked to have scored a touchdown, but we felt like that was the right decision at that point in time. It certainly could have gone the other way. There was a lot of time left in the game, but I really felt like we could have a chance to come back out, put a good drive together in the third quarter.
“We had started to move the ball in the second quarter. It seemed like things had started to gain a little bit of momentum. (We) tried to keep that going. Unfortunately, we lost it, then got it back, and then just couldn’t do enough in the last quarter-and-a-half on offense, on defense or on special teams to change the outcome of the game.”
The Patriots did put a solid drive together to open the second half (eight plays, 45 yards) but it ended with a Julian Edelman fumble that Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey returned 70 yards for a touchdown. New England responded with a touchdown of its own on the ensuing possession, but Baltimore then proceeded to rip off back-to-back eight-plus-minute touchdown drives to put the game away.
Red-zone execution has been a problem for the Patriots this season. They’ve found the end zone on just 50 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line, which ranks in the bottom third in the NFL.
“Those are important plays,” quarterback Tom Brady said after Sunday’s game. “It really hasn’t been a strength for us all year. We’re going to have to figure it out.”
Thumbnail photo via Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports Images