Handing out Game Balls for New England Patriots' Loss to Baltimore Ravens

Oliver Thomas@OliverBThomasContributor ISeptember 24, 2012

Handing out Game Balls for New England Patriots' Loss to Baltimore Ravens

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    It took a last-second field goal for the New England Patriots to lose their battle against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night, 31-30.

    Yet, if it was normal to hand out game balls after a losing effort, the Patriots would have a few to choose from.

    The following men warrant a game ball, or at least a pat on the back, after this tough defeat.

Tom Brady

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    Most quarterbacks look overwhelmed when facing the blitz-happy Baltimore Ravens defense. Tom Brady is not most quarterbacks.

    Instead, Brady made life tough for Baltimore's D, completing 28-of-41 passes for 335 yards and a touchdown.

    What was more impressive was the fact that No. 12 put up a 300-yard game without the help of injured tight end Aaron Hernandez. In the absence of Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski had to stay in to block more, effectively hampering his game as a receiver.

    Without his two-headed monster of tight ends, Brady went back to the drawing board and distributed the ball equally among his receivers.

    By the final whistle, Brady completed passes to eight different receivers, including the likes of Brandon Hoomanawanui, Kellen Winslow and Deion Branch.

Wes Welker

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    The first two weeks of the regular season, Wes Welker wasn't a big part of the game plan. That was not the case in Week 3, however, as Welker exploded out of his cuts and was a favorite option of Tom Brady.

    Welker finished with eight catches for a season-high 142 yards. It's safe to say New England's underneath passing game is back.

    Against the Tennessee Titans in the season opener, Welker caught just three passes for 14 yards in limited duty. Against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2, Welker posted 95 receiver yards, yet still was outplayed by fellow slot target Julian Edelman.

    Things are getting back to normal with Wes, despite the trade talk that has been swirling around him.

Brandon Lloyd

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    Brandon Lloyd finally had the game the Patriots needed him to have.

    Even though it wasn't enough to take the win, Lloyd asserted himself against the Ravens' defensive backs, coming down with nine catches for 108 yards on 12 targets.

    It seemed like every time New England needed a first down, Lloyd answered. His quick change of direction is complimented by soft hands, which allow him to make the most spectacular catch look easy.

    Lloyd has yet to nab his first touchdown as a Patriot, but the wily vet did clinch his first 100-yard game with the team on Sunday.

Torrey Smith

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    Ravens wideout Torrey Smith is obviously not a Patriot, but his courageous effort on Sunday can not be denied.

    Around 2 a.m. EDT Sunday morning, Smith got a call at the hotel informing him that his younger brother Tevin had died in a motorcycle accident.

    He told the public about his loss via Twitter:

    I can't believe my little brother is gone...be thankful for your loved ones and tell them you love them...this is the hardest thing ever

    — Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) September 23, 2012

    Smith went to Virginia to be with his family and was back in time for kickoff, something very few would have the strength to do.

    Not only did Smith play just hours after his brothers death, he was the best player on the field. The Maryland product was the story of the game, catching six passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns.