Patriots vs. Ravens: What We Learned from Sunday Night's Premier Matchup
In a Sunday Night Football matchup that made a day full of the country’s favorite sport all that much better, the epic 31-30 win by the Baltimore Ravens over the New England Patriots was the perfect way to cap off the evening.
Which team is the more serious Super Bowl contender?
While this was an amazing end to a long Sunday of football, this was a learning experience for both organizations and the entire NFL.
This time, though, these teams aren’t exactly who we thought they were (in my best Denny Green voice).
All of the following lessons were learned last night, but there is still plenty of time to figure out and correct what went wrong and to build on what went right.
Joe Flacco Is Elite
Coming into the season, it was clear that the Ravens and Flacco himself believed he was an elite QB in the NFL, but the numbers don’t lie. Flacco finished Sunday’s game 28-of-39 with 382 yards and three touchdowns.
If those aren’t elite NFL QB numbers, then I don’t know what is anymore.
With a plethora of weapons on the field to make his job easier (Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, Dennis Pitta, etc.), Flacco has proven this year that with the assistance of the hurry-up offense, the Ravens have one of the most dangerous offensive units in the NFL.
The Patriots Are in Trouble
The Baltimore Ravens looked like one of the best teams in the NFL on Sunday night, but the New England Patriots were leading all game until they lost in the fourth quarter. While this should be a good sign for the Patriots, they are in serious trouble.
With an injury to star tight end Aaron Hernandez, the Patriots have reverted to their old ways in the first game without the star. The team used a spread offense that didn’t utilize the rushing attack effectively and didn’t eat up enough clock; that left the defense high and dry.
If the 1-2 Patriots still want a chance to not only make the playoffs, but also be a legitimate Super Bowl threat again this season, they must figure out why they haven't all played well at the same time.
Baltimore’s Defense Is Still Dangerous
No one is claiming that the 2012 Baltimore Ravens are a team predicated on defense, but they are still one of the most dangerous units in all of football. As long as Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are on the field, the Ravens will always have a chance to win.
While Baltimore’s defensive unit gave up 30 points this week, it was squaring off with a New England team that was coming off a loss against the Arizona Cardinals and playing with serious fire.
After weathering the Patriots' storm, Baltimore buttoned down in the red zone and forced New England to use another star besides Rob Gronkowski to beat it. While Tom Brady almost did just that, the Ravens defense slowed its opponent just enough to steal the win.
Check back for more on the National Football League as it comes, and don’t miss Bleacher Report’s NFL page to get your fill of all things football.
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