The New England Patriots needed to make a statement against the previously undefeated Baltimore Ravens, and they did. They kept the physical Ravens’ team at bay, while keeping their explosive offense off the field. The Ravens scored 21 points, but only 14 came from the offense, as Terrell Suggs forced a Tom Brady fumble in the 3rd quarter that the Ravens’ pounced on for a touchdown.
The Pats succeeded against the Falcons last week thanks to the a strong running game opening up the passing attack, as Fred Taylor ran all over the Falcons’ D compiling over 100 yards of rushing.
However, New England knew that they would not be able to pound the ball against the Ravens defense as Baltimore’s’ defense, anchored by Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Haloti Ngata, lead the league in rushing defense. The Pats managed just 85 yards rushing on 30 tries, resulting in a meager 2.8 yards per run.
The Patriots worked quickly and used different passing packages to open up receivers. At one point, Randy Moss was double teamed going down the sideline allowing Ben Watson a free release up the seam, enabling a 30 yard pass completion from Brady.
With all the hype surrounding the Ravens’ D, the Patriots unit seemed to fly under the radar, but it was because of them that New England won the game. They managed their first interception of the season, but also stopped the high-flyin’ Baltimore offense when it counted most, halting the Ravens as they tried to score the game-winning TD.
Tom Brady and the Patriot offense kept the Ravens’ off the field holding the ball for almost 36 minutes, winning the time of possession battle. Brady had his first touchdown pass to a wide receiver on the season, and unsurprisingly, Randy Moss was its recipient.
Wes Welker also made his presence felt in his return from a knee injury, catching six passes for 48 yards.
Over the first three weeks of the season, New England had struggled to put the ball in the endzone while working in the Red Zone. They erased all concerns, going 3 of 5 against the stingy Ravens’ defense, a unit which allowed their first rushing touchdown of their season.
The offense did put up 27 points, but, unlike previous seasons, the New England defense deserves a lot of credit for the win. They did give up a large chunk of yards to Baltimore (363 total) but they looked great on deep passing attempts made by Joe Flacco, something that has been severely lacking over the past seasons. Darius Butler made a spectacular coverage play to stop a 50 yard touchdown pass, as did Brandon Meriweather, who sprinted across the field to dive in front of Derrick Mason, breaking up a clear touchdown pass.
Brandon Meriweather had a spectacular game, almost intercepting two passes, breaking up a few attempts, and managing nine total tackles.
Meriweather and the rest of the Patriots defense have been strong against the long pass this season, something that has been a major weakness to the team since 2004. Even with Asante Samuel and Rodney Harrison, the Pats were weak against long passing attempts.
It seems the times have changed, as a youthful, speedy New England secondary clamped its teeth on the Ravens’ passing attack, holding Flacco to just 264 yards.
This is an extremely bright looking secondary displayed by New England, and it is really starting to remind me of the days when we had Ty Law and Otis Smith patrolling the depths of the football field.
Of course, it’s too early to keep that comparison a legitimate thought, but if the secondary continues to perform the way it has been, then it will become a strength of the Patriots.
Also, Gary Guyton is doing a great job as middle linebacker for the Pats’. There was a time when he was going to be the reason the Patriots would not win games, as he could not fill the role vacated by Jerod Mayo. However, he has done a great job using his speed and strength to succeed. When Jerod Mayo gets back, the two will be a force to be reckoned with, as both are fast, physical and tackling machines.
Overall, a great win from New England, as Brady seems to be getting back into a rhythm, while the Patriot defense is beginning to gel.
It had to be a well played game to beat the previously unbeaten Ravens, and it was, as the Patriots won 27-21.
The team made a statement against a strong team, showing that they are no longer led by an injured player trying to figure things out on offense, nor are they easily passable defensively.