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Pats-Ravens: Monday Night Football at Its Finest

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Pats-Ravens: Monday Night Football at Its Finest

http://static.nfl.com/static/content/public/image/getty/2007/09000d5d804876b9_gallery_600.jpgThere is always one Monday Night Football game that is overwhelmingly exciting. This season, that game was last night's matchup between the Patriots and Ravens.

Coming in as major underdogs, the Baltimore Ravens really didn't have much to lose. Defeated in their last five games, they had looked to right the ship to a lost season.

The Ravens defense came to play, and they were clearly focused with a drive to win. Emotionally, every player was fired up, including Bart Scott, who ironically would greatly hurt any chance of winning at the end of the game.

I found myself cheering for the underdog Ravens the entire time, like the rest of America (minus those obnoxious Patriots fans!), but it felt like no matter how far in front the Ravens would get, the Patriots would always find a way to catch up. That Jabar Gaffney catch was really something, wasn't it?

The Ravens came within two yards of beating the undefeated Patriots after a spectacular Mark Clayton catch. The Patriots quickly brought down the talented pass-catcher.

"FUMBLE TO MASON, CLAYTON, FUMBLE TO MASON!" I yelled.

After such a disappointing loss, you'd have to imagine that the Ravens will take a long time to recover. Their power running game worked, the defense made a ton of stops, and they end up losing by one field goal.

What does a team have to do to beat those nasty silver and blue players? People may have their opinions and approaches, but I wrap up that question with this answer:

Play your best football and cross your fingers. That's what the Ravens did last night.

Three Things I Learned From This Game

At the conclusion of every game I watch, I try to think about distinguishing factors that were interesting to me. Here are three that I came up with from what I saw last night:

1. Kyle Boller has the ability to be an above-average NFL QB.

Okay, this one is going to be tough to defend.

People believe Kyle Boller has been one of the biggest busts since the Ravens traded up to get him in the 2003 draft, but he made some gutsy throws last night and ended with a 105.3 QB rating against a stout Patriots pass defense. I believe that if Kyle Boller is handed a starting job, with a little bit of development, he can turn into a reliable quarterback for a team that needs one.

There is no doubt that he is inconsistent, but he has a strong arm and doesn't rush to make decisions, which are two key things scouts look for in a developmental quarterback. He has the running ability to get out of jams and make plays as well, and we saw that multiple times last night with his completions to Derrick Mason and Devard Darling.

Don't think that all of his NFL potential is gone...he can still be a serviceable quarterback.

2. The Patriots are beatable, if you maximize your offense through the running game.

If you had to take a wild guess at Willis McGahee's final stat line from the game, what would you say? 55 yards? 75 yards and a score?

Try 138 yards and a score.

The Ravens started off drives with inside runs and they were effective. When they converted on third downs, it opened up more space for McGahee because the defense tired out, and quickly.

The key thing to remember here is: RUN the football with inside power runs if you want any chance at beating the Patriots. The Steelers and Giants both have great backfields, so hopefully they can maximize their plays on the ground and put themselves in a position to win.

And finally...

3. No matter what, the refs will never get every call correct.

Jabar Gaffney catching that pass in the endzone...Was it a catch?

The play that ended up deciding the game was a questionable Gaffney catch, which I believe shouldn't have been counted. He was switching the ball to his other hand, which wasn't necessary because he wasn't expecting to get hit. The refs made the best call they could and it ended up going in NE's favor.

Hope you were able to catch the Monday Night Football game last night, because there won't be another one nearly that exciting the rest of the season.

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