BALTIMORE — The New England Patriots are no longer undefeated. They did not pass their biggest test of the season when they faced off against a speedy Baltimore Ravens team on Sunday night.
The dream of 16-0 — if it was ever alive — is dead after the Patriots were dropped by the Baltimore Ravens 37-20 at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Patriots certainly had chances. Their performance wasn’t as bad as the double-digit deficit might indicate. Their offense showed plenty of life, and their defense was slightly better after a 17-point scoring surge by the Ravens in the first 16 minutes of the game.
But the Patriots still lost. Here’s why:
INABILITY TO STOP THE RUSH
The Cleveland Browns exposed a potentially fatal flaw in the Patriots defense in Week 8 when they ran the ball 22 times for 159 yards. That seemed like it was going to be a problem when the opposing team actually managed to get a lead on the Patriots.
That’s exactly what happened Sunday night against the Ravens when they got that 17-0 lead on the Patriots. The Ravens rushed 39 times for 213 yards with two scores. Just 63 of those yards, on 14 carries, came from quarterback Lamar Jackson, though he did score two touchdowns.
The Patriots lost the time of possession battle 37:01 to 22:59 because their defense couldn’t get off of the field.
A neutral zone infraction by outside linebacker Shilique Calhoun turned the game early. The Ravens were going to kick a field goal when Calhoun crossed the line of scrimmage, forcing Baltimore’s blockers to move. The penalty gave the Ravens a first down, and Jackson walked in for a touchdown on the next play.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was flagged for intentional grounding midway through the second quarter when New England was driving. Left tackle Marshall Newhouse was penalized for holding on the next play, and the Patriots finished the drive punting.
The Patriots were in their red zone later in the second quarter when right guard Shaq Mason was called for holding. The Patriots had to settle for a field goal after being pushed back.
While trailing by 10 points with 7:49 left in the game, the Patriots were going to force a field goal before cornerback Jason McCourty was penalized for illegal hands to the face. It gave the Ravens a new set of downs and the ability to drain 4:35 off of the clock and score a touchdown.
The Patriots were driving to potentially take the lead on their first drive of the second half when wide receiver Julian Edelman coughed up the football. Ravens linebacker Patrick Onwuasor forced the fumble, and cornerback Marlon Humphrey scooped it for a 70-yard touchdown.
The Patriots didn’t lie down and concede defeat, scoring on their ensuing drive. But the Ravens’ lead became insurmountable when things finally appeared to be going New England’s way.
Early in the fourth quarter, Brady essentially tossed a punt to Humphrey. Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, who otherwise had a stellar performance, catching 10 passes for 81 yards with a touchdown, failed to touch Humphrey, allowing the cornerback to return the pick 24 yards. The Ravens put together a 14-play, 63-yard drive that took 9:35 off of the clock. The Ravens’ previous drive took 8:09 off of the clock.
The Patriots didn’t have a chance to mount a comeback when they suddenly trailed by three scores with just over three minutes on the clock.