In the NFL, when two very good teams meet, often the team that makes the least mistakes wins. That's what happened Sunday when the Ravens went in to New England and lost to the Patriots in overtime, 23-20.
In what was an outstanding defensive game, the two teams were nearly identical statistically. There were two key differences: New England turned the ball over twice (one of which was on a Hail Mary play at the end of regulation), and the Ravens dominated time of possession.
Those two things led to a Ravens 20-10 lead with 14 minutes to play in the game.
Then there was a kickoff out of bounds, giving the Patriots the ball at their 40-yard line. It only took the Patriots four minutes to score a touchdown.
The Ravens got the ball back with about 11 minutes to play, and were unable to convert on a 3rd-and-1 near midfield due to a poor play-call.
Still up by three, the Patriots got the ball back at their own 14, and drove to the Baltimore 6-yard line before kicking a field goal to tie the game.
Overtime was a field-position struggle, with both defenses coming up big, as well as a huge punt from the Patriots putting the Ravens deep in their own territory with a little over seven minutes left to play. On second down, LeRon McClain lost his cool, and was flagged for a personal foul after a play, backing the team up to their own 10, leaving them in a 3rd-and-19 situation.
Those two big mistakes—the kickoff out of bounds and the personal foul—cost the Ravens a win. You simply cannot make those types of mistakes against a team as good as the Patriots.
Other than those two mistakes, there were a lot of positive things to take away from the Ravens' performance.
The Ravens established their running game and opened up the passing game against a very good defense. Joe Flacco was 25-37 for 285 yards, and had a passer rating of 119. Ray Rice had a solid game with 28 carries for 88 yards. As I mentioned, they dominated time of possession.
The defense played very well for most of the game, continuing to bend but not break. They did give up 292 passing yards, but held Tom Brady to a 66 passer rating. They generated a pass rush, at one point making Tom Brady pound the ground looking for a penalty for hitting the quarterback. They did give up some costly yards late in the game, though.
Special teams didn't give up any big plays, other than the kickoff out of bounds.
There are a lot of positives coming out of this tough game, and the Ravens continue to show they are one of the top teams in the AFC.
The Ravens did what they needed to win that game and had a good showing on the road against a very good team, but came up short because you just can't make big mistakes at the wrong time against the Patriots.
Paul Stagg is a Ravens Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report
Visit Paul's personal blog at paulstagg.com
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