The New England Patriots fell to the Ravens in what will go down as possibly one of the poorest officiated games in National Football League history. The Ravens pulled out a squeaker after a last second field goal by Justin Tucker, that was also not without controversy, as many people, including Bill Belichick, seem to doubt whether the kick was actually good.
Regardless, the Patriots now sit at 1-2. Here are some players that helped the team's cause Sunday, and some others that did not.
- Wide Receivers:
Despite injuries to both Brandon Lloyd and Julian Edelman during the course of the game, the trio of Lloyd, Edelman and Wes Welker carried the Patriots offense for most of the night. With tight end Rob Gronkowski held in to block most of the game, the Patriots top three receivers combined for 21 receptions for 278 yards and a score.
Welker quieted some of the negativity about him throughout the week, finishing with a team-high 142 yards. Even the recently recently resigned Deion Branch got his feet wet Sunday night, catching two passes for 11 yards. Unfortunately for Branch though, he was twice punished by the Baltimore defense, although one hit from Ravens safety Ed Reed did draw a 15-yard penalty on a personal foul.
Brady was in control of the game most of the night, completing 28 of his 41 passes for 335 yards and a touchdown to Edelman. Brady was effective despite being under duress at times from the Baltimore pass-rush. Brady's downfall, however, was that he was unable lead the team downfield and put an extra score on the board late to put this game away in Baltimore.
Who was mostly responsible for the Patriots' loss?
Chandler Jones and company were around Joe Flacco at times, but still failed to record a single sack Sunday night. Flacco went untouched nearly every time he dropped back. The one sack they did rack up in the fourth quarter by Kyle Love was ripped from their hands as the Patriots secondary drew a flag.
Devin McCourty was competitive a lot of the night, although he failed to bring in interceptions thrown to him at two different occasions. The second dropped pick may have ended the Ravens' hopes at a comeback had he come up with it. Of course the nail in the coffin on McCourty's night was his pass interference call on the Ravens' final drive that set them up 1st-and-goal for a chip shot game-winning field goal.
McCourty was not alone in his misery though, as fellow corner Kyle Arrington fell down on Baltimore's final drive on a pass towards wideout Anquan Boldin. Had Arrington stayed on his feet, he would have had an easy game-sealing interception for New England.
- Josh McDaniels:
The Patriots offensive coordinator insisted all night on running third-down back Danny Woodhead into the teeth of the Raven defense, despite rarely yielding results with it. On a late drive that could have iced the game for the Patriots, McDaniels dialed up two running plays on 1st-and-goal and 2nd-and-goal. On the second-down play, after a Stevan Ridley rush lost four yards back to the 8-yard-line on first down, McDaniels called a Woodhead run up the middle that resulted in no gain. The team eventually had to settle for just a field goal, which kept Baltimore alive.
McDaniels wasted far too many plays with Woodhead all night, 15 rushes in all. Down the stretch McDaniels failed to let Brady loose to put the game away. McDaniels needs to greatly re-evaluate how he uses Woodhead and all of his other weapons in future games.