The Great Escape
Patriots Outplayed, Steal the Win
The New England Patriots were outplayed, plain and simple. But, again, they made the big plays late in the game when they had to, and they escaped Baltimore with a 27-24 win.
The Ravens, like Philadelphia, finished the game like they started it -- with a lot of mistakes. Baltimore had a slew of penalties to open the game and a slew to finish it. Other than that, give the Ravens credit. For the second consecutive week, a team really played well against the Patriots, and pushed them even closer to the brink.
Somehow, the Patriots persevered. Tom Brady engineered yet another game-winnning 4th-quarter drive, and the potential for the perfect season remains intact, however barely.
Baltimore dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage, but for a few plays. New England rarely had an answer for Ravens running back Willis McGahee, who gashed the Patriots defense for large chunks of yards and kept several Baltimore drives rolling. McGahee finished with 138 yards on 30 carries.
But, like the offense, the defense made the plays in the 4th quarter: three 3-and-outs in the fourth quarter. And Eric Alexander, of all people, for all the guff he took after the AFC Championship, made the last tackle of the game on the 2-yard line, essentially saving the win.
Here are the final stats for New England (bold = led team):
Brady: 18 of 38 (47.4 percent), 257 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, rating of 76.3
Maroney: 13 carries, 44 yards, 2 catches, 79 yards
Faulk: 7 carries, 33 yards, 2 catches, 18 yards
Evans: 2 carries, -1 yard, TD
Moss: 4 catches, 34 yards, TD
Stallworth: 3 catches, 68 yards
Welker: 3 catches, 18 yards
Watson: 3 catches, 26 yards
Gaffney: 1 catch, 8 yards, TD
K. Brady: 1 catch, 6 yards
Gostkowski: 2 of 2 FGs (21, 38), 3 XPs
Bruschi: 10 solo tackles, 2 assists
Harrison: 5 solo, 2 assists
Seau: 6 solo
Wilfork: 5 solo, 1 assist
Thomas: 3 solo, 3 assists
Seymour: 5 solo
Sanders: 3 solo, 2 assists, 1 INT
Patriots defense: No sacks, only 5 quarterback hits, only 4 passes defended.
Lots of dropped passes. Lots of missed blocks. Lots of missed tackles. Lots of bad, bad play.
More stats and comments after the break ...
For comparison, here are a few Ravens stats:
Boller: 15 of 23 (65.2 percent), 210 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 105.3 rating
McGahee: 30 carries, 138 yards, TD, 4 catches, 21 yards
Mason: 6 catches, 67 yards, TD
Wilcox: 2 catches, 4 yards, TD
Darling: 1 catch, 53 yards
Clayton: 1 catch, 52 yards
The Patriots earned 7 first downs rushing, 9 passing and got 5 by penalty, including a few down the stretch.
The Patriots were uncharacteristically poor on third downs, converting just 2 of 12 (17 percent), but they did convert 2 of 2 on fourth down. Baltimore wasn't much better on third with just 3 of 11 (27 percent) successful conversions and 1-for-1 on fourth.
Baltimore outgained New England, 376-326. Both teams were 3 of 4 in the red zone. Baltimore led in time of possession, 32:54 to 27:06.
The big difference in favor of New England: Penalties. The Ravens accepted 4 penalties against the Patriots for 30 yards, and New England accepted 13 penalties against Baltimore for 100 yards.
First half stats:
The Patriots were simply terrible in the first half: 0 of 4 on third down, while Baltimore was 3 of 4.
Brady was 8 of 18 for 95 yards, an interception, a sack, and a passer rating of 38.0.
The Ravens had the edge in time of possession in the first half, but not by much: 16:52 to 13:08.
The Patriots were very fortunate to be tied at 10 at halftime.
There will be much more tomorrow and in the coming days.
Final question: How much did New England miss Rosevelt Colvin?