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AFC North

Patriots Pound Ravens in Downpour

Through heavy rain and wind, the Ravens were unable to overcome the Patriots Sunday night losing 23-17. The inclement weather only added to an already highly anticipated game between two former MVP’s, Lamar Jackson and Cam Newton, both of whom have displayed inconsistent play this season. This game came down to defensive play and who could get the most stops.

The Offense

Unlike previous losses, the blame for this game is not entirely on Lamar Jackson. Jackson, who threw 24 for 34 with 249 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception, and 55 rushing yards, seems to be upping the ante when it comes to the passing game. His passes in this game were strong and accurate despite terrible playing conditions. Jackson also gave up one turnover, the interception at the end of the 2nd quarter, but no fumbles, which have been a problem for him the past couple of weeks. Besides the interception, the only real flaw in Jackson’s play was his decision-making on a few individual plays. Late in the game, he was trying to force completions rather than rushing when real estate was premium. Overall, I do not blame the offense’s lack of scoring on Jackson who seems to have greatly improved his passing this week.

The Ravens rushing attack has been on fire the past couple of weeks but was extinguished by a stout Patriots defense. Mark Ingram made his return after sitting the previous two weeks due an ankle injury and failed to do much of anything only rushing for 5 yards on 5 carries. Lamar Jackson led the rushing attack followed by Gus Edwards with 7 attempts for 42 yards, and J.K. Dobbins’ 5 carries for 13 yards. The inability to rush the ball was the glaring problem for the Ravens’ offensive woes. In a torrential downpour, you cannot rely on a quarter back, no matter who it is, to win the game through the air. If the Ravens had a rushing attack as effective as the Patriots, they would have won for sure, but the reliance on Lamar Jackson to throw the ball downfield sealed their fate.

The Ravens receivers had a good day statistically largely due to Lamar Jackson’s on-point passing, but they were not great by any means. Numerous dropped passes late in the game only added to the problems on offense and put more pressure on Jackson to do it all himself. Mark Andrews led the core in receptions with 7 for 61 yards followed by Willie Snead catching 5 for 64 yards and 2 touchdowns. Devin Duvernay, Gus Edwards, Mark Ingram, and Marquise Brown also recorded 1-3 receptions in the contest. The Ravens did a good job getting the ball in the hands of the dangerous Mark Andrews, especially after the loss of Nick Boyle, but have still failed to give Marquise Brown a heavy workload. Besides Willie Snead and Mark Andrews, the Ravens receiving core had a lack-luster game performing as good as it did only because of Lamar Jackson.

The Defense

Even though only 23 points were allowed, the Ravens defense was not as hard-nosed as they have been for much of this season. The loss of Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams significantly damaged the defensive line which allowed 173 rushing yards and a Cam Newton led rushing touchdown. The Ravens did not have a chance to come up with any turnovers as the Patriots only passed 18 times while completing 14 of them. The Patriots saw the Ravens weakness this week and exposed it to near embarrassment. Why pass the ball against one of the best secondaries when you can rush it the entire game and win- props to Bill Belichick.

The Ravens pass rush was underwhelming AGAIN only recording one sack by Matthew Judon and 3 QB hits. As I’ve said previously, the Ravens’ secondary can only do so much and the pass rush needs to improve.

Patrick Queen, Chuck Clark, and Derek Wolfe led the D in tackles. Wolfe stepped up big time in this one with some crucial late game tackles despite injuries on the D-line.

All in all, the Ravens defense was pretty pathetic in comparison to how well they have played this year. Even with the injuries on the defensive line, they needed to stop the run better if they were going to win this game.

Moving Forward

The best way to describe the Ravens’ performance against the Patriots was not good enough. The rushing attack was ineffective in conditions where it needed to succeed, the defense was unable to stop a running game when it had to, and the few mistakes the Ravens did make were enough to grant them a loss.

In the future, the Ravens need to have a good day passing and rushing. It seems one is always off, while the other is on, leading to constant inconsistencies on offense. The pass rush must pressure the QB more often too, or the rest of the defense will suffer. The Ravens have to make adjustments quickly as they prepare for a highly anticipated rematch against an above average opponent in the Tennessee Titans.

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