Julian Edelman’s third-quarter fumble, while costly, did not doom the New England Patriots to defeat Sunday night at M&T Bank Stadium.
After Patrick Onwuasor stripped the ball from Edelman’s hands and Marlon Humphrey returned it 70 yards for six, the Patriots immediately staged an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. They trailed by just four points with more than eight minutes remaining in the third — far from an insurmountable deficit for a Tom Brady-led offense.
That offense would see the field for just four of the game’s final 23 minutes, however, remaining glued to the sideline while Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens slowly snuffed out New England’s comeback hopes with a pair of interminable touchdown drives:
14 plays, 81 yards, 8:09 (longest against the Patriots since 2017)
14 plays, 68 yards, 9:35 (longest against the Patriots since 2011)
Those drives, which capped a signature 37-20 win for the Ravens and sealed the Patriots’ first loss of the 2019 NFL season, featured several standout plays by Jackson but also multiple self-inflicted errors from an experienced and typically disciplined New England defense.
Let’s take a closer look at where things went awry for Bill Belichick’s club in this week’s Patriots Breakdown:
THIRD-AND-5, RAVENS’ 24-YARD LINE
THIRD QUARTER, 7:16 REMAINING
After a James White rushing touchdown trimmed Baltimore’s lead to 24-20, the Patriots’ defense forced a Jackson incompletion and tackled running back Mark Ingram for a gain of 5, setting up third-and-5.
New England sent out its usual third-down personnel package (one pass-rushing D-lineman, four linebackers, six defensive backs) and rushed five, with cornerback Jonathan Jones spying Jackson in the middle of the field and the rest of the secondary playing man coverage.
This Cover Zero look with no deep safety help worked to great effect against another 2018 draft pick, Sam Darnold, two weeks prior, but Jackson wasn’t flustered. He stood tall in the pocket amid pressure from Chase Winovich and found his favorite target, tight end Mark Andrews, for an 18-yard gain. The 6-foot-5 Andrews ran a corner route and caught the pass over 5-foot-11 safety Terrence Brooks.
FOURTH-AND-4, PATRIOTS’ 38-YARD LINE
THIRD QUARTER, 3:33 REMAINING
Five plays later, following another Baltimore first down, Winovich recovered from an overeager initial rush to drop Jackson for a 3-yard gain on third-and-7. A 56-yard field goal would have been within kicker Justin Tucker’s range, but Ravens coach John Harbaugh opted to leave his offense on the field.
Jackson rolled out to his right, facing no legitimate pressure from a Patriots defense likely more focused on preventing the dual-threat QB from rushing for a first down and hit receiver Willie Snead along the sideline for 7 yards to move the chains.
The Ravens were lucky not to be flagged for an illegal downfield pick on the play, as wideout Seth Roberts impeded cornerback Jason McCourty’s path to Snead well beyond the 1-yard limit.
SECOND-AND-11, PATRIOTS’ 32-YARD LINE
THIRD QUARTER, 1:52 REMAINING
Ravens rookie receiver Marquise Brown beat Stephon Gilmore just twice Sunday night, but both receptions came at important junctures. The first — a diving grab on third down minutes into the first quarter — prevented a three-and-out on the game’s opening drive, which ultimately produced a Baltimore touchdown. The second picked up 16 yards to move the Ravens into the red zone.
Facing off-man coverage from Gilmore, Brown ran a shallow drag, forcing the cornerback to navigate through a tangle of bodies as he gave chase. Tight end Nick Boyle was able to chip Gilmore after Brown received the pass, preventing him from catching up to the lightning-fast first-round draft pick.
Brown voluntarily stepped out of bounds at the Patriots’ 16, setting up a play that will headline many a Jackson highlight reel in the coming weeks.
FIRST-AND-10, PATRIOTS’ 16-YARD LINE
THIRD QUARTER, 1:13 REMAINING
The Lamar Jackson Show at its finest.
Linebacker John Simon shot through the line to blow up what appeared to be a rollout pass to Jackson’s right, forcing the quarterback to pause, recalibrate and take off toward the left edge.
There, Jackson found Kyle Van Noy engaged with guard Marshall Yanda. One step to the outside caused the linebacker to turn his hips, exposing an open lane for Jackson to attack. He did just that, sidestepping Van Noy before rocketing downfield.
A push to the back of center Matt Skura helped Skura bowl over defensive tackle Adam Butler just inside the 10-yard line, opening up a few additional yards for Jackson. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower finally pushed him out of bounds at the 5.
Two plays later, Jackson connected with Boyle on a 5-yard touchdown pass to extend Baltimore’s lead.
On the seventh play of the ensuing Patriots drive, Brady heaved a deep ball to Mohamed Sanu on third-and-10 that was intercepted by safety Earl Thomas. New England wouldn’t get the ball back until garbage time.
THIRD-AND-4, RAVENS’ 38-YARD LINE
FOURTH QUARTER, 11:34 REMAINING
With the Patriots still trailing by just 10 thanks to a rare missed extra point by Tucker, Winovich wrestled third-string running back Justice Hill down short of the line to gain on third down. The tackle should have forced a Ravens punt or, at the very least, another fourth-down conversion attempt, but the play was wiped away.
Hightower had mistimed his blitz, resulting in a neutral zone infraction that gifted Baltimore a fresh set of downs.
The Patriots were penalized three times for neutral zone infractions or defensive offsides during the game, and all three resulted in first downs. Hightower’s wasn’t even the most detrimental. Shilique Calhoun jumped early on a 24-yard field-goal attempt during the Ravens’ opening possession, and Baltimore scored a touchdown one play later.
THIRD-AND-4, RAVENS’ 49-YARD LINE
FOURTH QUARTER, 9:48 REMAINING
A tackle here by linebacker Elandon Roberts might have stopped Ingram short of the first-down marker. Instead, the running back brushed him off for a gain of 18.
THIRD-AND-7, PATRIOTS’ 30-YARD LINE
FOURTH QUARTER, 7:49 REMAINING
The Ravens converted four third downs on their final drive. Two came via penalty. McCourty was the culprit on the second, as his illegal hands to the face foul on Snead negated a third-down incompletion on the opposite side of the field.
SECOND-AND-8, PATRIOTS’ 10-YARD LINE
FOURTH QUARTER, 5:37 REMAINING
More slippery running by Jackson.
After faking a handoff to Hill on a read-option, Jackson initially stepped left toward Simon before cutting back right. Boyle crossing the formation to lead-block caused linebackers Hightower and Jamie Collins to vacate the middle of the field. Defensive tackle Lawrence Guy bit on the fake to Hill and then was sealed off by Yanda, giving Jackson the crease he needed.
Safety Duron Harmon dragged Jackson down inside the 1.
A false start two plays later backed the Ravens up, but Jackson eventually finished the drive with a QB-draw touchdown, with right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. physically pulling him over the goal line to ice the biggest win of the young quarterback’s career.
Thumbnail photo via Douglas DeFelice/USA TODAY Sports Images