Patriots Notes: Players React To ‘Tsunami’ Weather In Win Over Ravens

Plus: Updates on a few New England newcomers

by

November 16, 2020

Some assorted notes and nuggets from the New England Patriots’ 23-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night at Gillette Stadium:

— When asked after the game about the Patriots’ stellar rushing performance, Cam Newton joked that Patriots coach Bill Belichick must have “either has a Staples easy button or a Buffalo Wild Wings button or just a straight, direct line to the football gods.”

Belichick might have an in with Mother Nature, too.

The players were pounded by heavy rain and strong winds for much of the game, but the true, biblical, Jumanji-level downpour didn’t begin until the moment Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense took the field with 65 seconds remaining, needing to travel 83 yards with no timeouts.

Baltimore was flagged for holding on first down and never recovered. Rookie Kyle Dugger tackled J.K. Dobbins in bounds on third down to keep the clock rolling, and Dobbins dropped a pass on fourth down to seal the Patriots’ most impressive win since Super Bowl LIII.

?It got progressively worse as the game went along,” Belichick said in his postgame video conference. “It wasn?t bad at the beginning, and then just a little precipitation, a little rain there at the end.”

Moments after the teams had cleared the field, the howling winds slowed and the monsoon became a drizzle.

It was just that kind of night for the Patriots.

Player opinion varied on the conditions, which wrecked the Ravens’ offense at times (several blown shotgun snaps) but didn’t seem to faze the Patriots, who played turnover-free football for the second consecutive week.

“I think when I was in college, I might have played in the rain once, and it never even compared to (Sunday night),” said running back Damien Harris, who rushed for a career-high 121 yards in the win. “I’ve always been like, ?I don’t want to play in the rain.? It’s just not my thing. I’ve never really had a reason to want to play in the rain. Some guys love that stuff, but I’ve always been kind of one of those guys. I prefer it to be, like, 65 and sunny.

“But being out there in that atmosphere and being a part of this team in such a special moment, including the weather.”

Linebacker Chase Winovich, meanwhile, embraced it.

“At first, you kind of resist the rain in a sense, where it’s like, OK, I?m going to try to stay dry enough that I tackle and your shoes don?t get soaking wet. But after a while, after enough rain, it?s just a matter of taking the approach (of): this is exactly how I want it to go. I want it to pour. I want it to be freezing cold.

“If you take your attitude and your opponent doesn?t, that gives you an edge. And if you take that attitude, that kind of infectious, I think, to your other teammates. So it was great. Playing in the rain was fun.?

Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, whose double-pass touchdown gave the Patriots a lead they would not relinquish, was pleasantly surprised by that play call given the wet weather.

Newton praised center David Andrews for his ability to deliver consistently accurate shotgun snaps.

“We had a couple close calls with trying to gather the snap,” the quarterback said. “Obviously, it was a factor for them. But having the mentality to stay mentally tough throughout that whole tsunami it felt like, we just wanted to make sure that we do great things while we have the football, protecting the football, making great decisions.

“It affected just a throw or two for me. But just being in manageable situations kind of helps, too.”

Cornerback J.C. Jackson said the Patriots are “built” for this type of game.”

“The weather doesn’t matter,” said Jackson, whose interception late in the first half halted a Ravens scoring chance. “It doesn’t matter where we’re at, how the weather is, you’ve got to play football, man. We’re built for this.”

— Top cornerback Stephon Gilmore (knee) was inactive for the third consecutive game. Linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley (groin) sat out for the second straight week.

Defensive tackle Lawrence Guy (shoulder, elbow, knee) and wide receiver N’Keal Harry (concussion) returned after one- and two-game absences, respectively. Harry saw significant offensive playing time but was not targeted in the passing game (nor was fellow wideout Damiere Byrd).

Recently acquired receiver Isaiah Ford was active for the first time since joining the Patriots but did not play.

Harris played through chest and ankle injuries and enjoyed a career night, rushing for 121 yards on 22 carries.

Jermaine Eluemunor returned from a three-game stint on injured reserve but couldn’t reclaim his starting right tackle spot. The Patriots stuck with rookie Mike Onwenu, who played every snap.

— New England operated with just one active tight end (Ryan Izzo) for the third consecutive game.

Newcomer Jordan Thomas was inactive — unsurprising since he’s yet to practice with his new team — but was on the field pregame, catching passes from third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer as tight ends coach Nick Caley guided him through some of the finer points of New England’s offense.

The Patriots claimed Thomas off waivers from the Arizona Cardinals earlier this week. The third-year pro will have the chance to make his New England debut next Sunday against the team that drafted him, the Houston Texans.

Izzo finished with one catch on one target — a key 20-yard catch-and-run that set up New England’s first touchdown.

Thumbnail photo via Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports Images
New England Patriots' Damien Harris
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