The New England Patriots have taken care of business over the first two quarters and take a 16-3 lead over the Baltimore Ravens into halftime.
The Ravens won the opening coin toss, forcing the Patriots to receive the opening kick. The Patriots offense got off to a bad start, going three-and-out on their first two drives and punting on their first three.
Luckily for Tom Brady and company, the defense and special teams were able to take care of business.
P Ryan Allen dropped a dime of a punt to the one yard line, where rookie CB and gunner Jonathan Jones stopped the ball with an athletic somersault. Sophomore DT Malcom Brown stopped Ravens RB Kenneth Dixon in the end zone for a safety and a 2-0 lead.
The Patriots failed to move the ball after receiving the subsequent free kick, and the Ravens moved the ball down the field on their responding drive. Ravens K Justin Tucker lined up for a field goal attempt- he hadn’t missed a kick all season- but LB Shea McClellin made an incredibly athletic play, hurdling the line to block the kick and to remove 3 points from the board.
The New England offense turned to the rushing game against the NFL’s #1 run defense and had no problem running to the goal line, before RB LeGarrette Blount punched in a 1-yard score and a 16-0 lead. Blount is now tied with Curtis Martin for the Patriots franchise record with 14 rushing touchdowns in a single season.
The Ravens offense failed to generate any momentum and gave the ball right back to the Patriots offense. Brady marched 89 yards down the field, capping the drive off with a gorgeous 6-yard touchdown pass to WR Malcolm Mitchell.
Baltimore responded with another futile drive as Devin McCourty intercepted a terrible deep throw by Ravens QB Joe Flacco. A terrible officiating call wiped out a huge return by McCourty, setting up the Patriots for a long drive. This was the second bad call by the officials, after they blew an early whistle to cancel out a forced fumble and recovery by ED Trey Flowers.
Brady led the Patriots offense down to the goal line, but made his worst throw of the season and possibly his career by throwing a jump ball to Chris Hogan, while Brady was falling to the ground. Ravens S Eric Weddle intercepted Brady in the end zone, wiping away at least 3 points from the Patriots. New England curiously didn’t turn to Blount by the goal line, either.
The Ravens were unable to take advantage of the turnover and punted the ball back to the Patriots right before the two-minute warning. Weddle will be in Brady’s nightmares because he sacked the quarterback, giving the Ravens one last chance to score before the half starting at midfield. Tucker connected on a 50-yard field goal to make the score 16-3.
The Patriots defense has been outstanding, limiting the Ravens to just 7 rushing yards on 4 attempts and 142 total yards. Half of Flacco’s completions have been to running backs. If not for a serious breakdown by the Patriots defenders on a 40 yard catch-and-run by the Ravens fullback, we might be comparing this defensive performance to last week’s shutdown of Los Angeles Rams.
New England has 65 rushing yards against a Ravens defense that has allowed an average of just 73.8 rushing yards per game. Brady is on pace for 50+ pass attempts as Ravens CB Jimmy Smith left the game and is doubtful to return. It’s clear that Brady is far too focused on WR Julian Edelman. Brady is 3 of 10 for 37 yards throwing to Edelman, and 12 of 15 for 193 yards to every other player.
The Ravens get the ball after the half. The Patriots are 66-1 under Bill Belichick when ahead by 13 points at halftime. We’ll see if Brady’s red zone interception will come back to haunt the Patriots.