Patriots Know They Blew Winnable Game In Loss To Ravens

'I feel like we should have had this game'


September 26

FOXBORO, Mass. — Why did the New England Patriots lose to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday?

It wasn’t because they allowed Lamar Jackson to score five total touchdowns and rush for 107 yards — the most ever by a quarterback against a Bill Belichick-coached Patriots team. It wasn’t becuase their defense surrendered a touchdown on all five of Baltimore’s red-zone trips and was on the wrong end of two contested end-zone receptions. It wasn’t because their punt team gave up a 43-yard runback that helped quickly erase a second-half Patriots lead.

All of those were contributing factors in the Patriots’ 37-26 defeat at Gillette Stadium. This certainly was not the complementary football Bill Belichick strives for. But the largest such factor was this — a rundown of how New England’s final five drives ended:


The last of those four turnovers was inconsequential to the outcome — a desperation Mac Jones heave in garbage time. But the other three? Those were killers. Each came while the Patriots were trailing by eight points or fewer, and two came in Ravens territory, including one in the end zone, turning a winnable game into another frustrating loss.

“I feel like we should have had this game,” wide receiver Kendrick Bourne lamented.

The first Patriots turnover came just two plays after a Devin Duvernay touchdown put Baltimore ahead 28-20 late in the third quarter. Jones tried to hit wide receiver DeVante Parker — who finally showed up Sunday with 136 yards on five catches — but found linebacker Josh Bynes instead. The pass never came close to reaching its intended target.

New England’s defense held after that turnover, forcing a three-and-out followed by a 56-yard Justin Tucker field goal stretched the Ravens’ lead to 11 points. The Patriots responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive — complete with an 18-yard run by Rhamondre Stevenson, a 24-yard strike to Parker and a bonkers fourth-and-1 conversion — to get back within one score.

Momentum then tilted further toward Belichick’s club when, on the first play of the ensuing Ravens series, cornerback Jonathan Jones ripped the ball out of receiver Rashod Bateman’s hands, forcing a fumble that Jabrill Peppers recovered. Jones proceeded to guide the Patriots into the red zone, where they faced a third-and-goal from the 10, down five, with 9:12 remaining.

Then, another mistake.

Facing pressure off both edges, Jones floated a pass in the direction of Parker that soared over the wideout and landed in the waiting arms of cornerback Marlon Humphrey.

Asked after the game about Humphrey’s pick, Parker said he and his QB were not on the same page on the play. The FOX broadcast showed a furious Jones profanely yelling that the Ravens were in Cover 4 before slamming a towel down on the Patriots’ bench. He appeared to expect Parker to break his route toward the rear pylon; instead, he ran straight upfield into Humphrey.

“We alerted a play, we alerted a call, and then (Jones) reloaded,” Parker said. “I’ll just say it’s a miscommunication on that. But it’s something we’ll fix.”

The interception was Jones’ fourth of the season — all on targets to Parker.

While costly, the end-zone INT was not a death knell for the Patriots. Stout defense and a poor 23-yard punt on the ensuing Ravens drive gave the ball back to Jones and company at their own 29 with 6:36 still to play. Even a field goal on that next series would have kept them in contention, and they moved to the outskirts of Nick Folk’s range when Jones found Nelson Agholor over the middle with room to run.

Agholor picked up 28 yards on the catch-and-run — then fumbled away New England’s last realistic chance of victory. Rookie safety Kyle Hamilton punched the ball out from behind, cornerback Marcus Peters recovered, and Jackson capitalized, driving the Ravens 73 yards for a game-sealing touchdown.

“You’re not going to win turning the ball over in the fourth quarter,” Belichick said. “You’re behind, you’ve got to be aggressive. But still on those, we’ve got to do a better job than we did on those plays, for sure.”

Agholor also lost a late fumble in New England’s Week 1 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

“It’s tough to see fundamental things like ball security be a big factor,” the wideout said. “They’re a good team, dynamic team, quality quarterback, all that, but ball security was a big factor in it. And then my part in it — my ball security at the end — I had the opportunity to secure a first down and secure good field position for us, so it’s tough when that happens. But you move on. You focus on it.”

Sunday’s loss dropped the Patriots to 1-9 when losing the turnover battle and 2-10 when committing multiple turnovers during Jones’ quarterbacking tenure. They’ve been operating with little room for error since Tom Brady departed two years ago and have not proven capable of overcoming their own ball-security gaffes. Even in otherwise encouraging offensive performances like this one, which featured a career-high 321 passing yards from Jones, a Parker breakout and some impressive running by Rhamondre Stevenson (6.1 yards per carry).

“Just a couple mistakes made,” said Bourne, who also fumbled on the Patriots’ final drive but was able to recover. “We’ve got to fix the turnovers, better ball security, and I think we’ll have a better chance.”

But this was a chance the Patriots needed to cash in on, especially since they now could be without their starting quarterback for the foreseeable future. Jones suffered what reportedly is believed to be a high ankle sprain on the final offensive snap of the game — an injury that could land him on injured reserve and leave New England to navigate its upcoming schedule with Brian Hoyer or rookie Bailey Zappe behind center.

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Thumbnail photo via Kris Craig/The Providence Journal via USA TODAY Sports Images
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