Here are the winners and losers from the Patriots 30-23 win over the Ravens.
Winner: QB Tom Brady
Brady finished the day 25 of 38 (65.8%) for 406 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception for a passer rating of 116.8. He spread the ball evenly, with one exception that we’ll cover later, and he delivered some gorgeous throws. Brady leads the NFL in passer rating and is 3 touchdown passes away from ranking in the top 5, despite missing four games.
One big blemish was his red zone interception, which ultimately didn’t change the outcome of the game. Still, Brady put together an emphatic performance in prime time without Rob Gronkowski.
Winner: RB LeGarrette Blount
Blount has new career highs in yards, with 1,029 rushing yards (5th in the NFL), and 1,067 yards from scrimmage (17th in the NFL). His 14 rushing touchdowns lead the NFL and represent the 2nd most overall touchdowns by a skill player (Cardinals RB David Johnson has 15).
It’s an understatement to say that Blount is experiencing a renaissance in his age-30 season. He’s been transcendent and one of the most productive running backs in Patriots history.
Winner: WR Chris Hogan
Did we finally have a Chris Hogan breakout game? Hogan collected 5 of his 7 targets for 129 yards and a touchdown, including a game-breaking 79-yard catch and run. He also added 7 rushing yards. He now has 622 yards from scrimmage, easily a career high, and he’s asserted himself as a deep ball player that Brady can trust.
So long as Brady looks his direction...
Loser: Brady’s unnecessary focus on WR Julian Edelman
Brady threw the ball 15 times in Edelman’s direction. While Edelman collected 7 for 73 yards, it felt like Brady was too focused on getting the ball to Edelman without ensuring that Edelman was the best option.
Over the past four games since Gronkowski was injured against the Seahawks, Edelman has received 31 of 55 targets (56.4%) for 334 yards. He has received 31.6% of all of Brady’s targets.
Brady's passing vs Ravens:— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) December 13, 2016
Edelman: 7 of 15 for 73 yards (rating: 61.2)
Everyone else: 18 of 22 for 333 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT (139.4)
Brady completed 18 of 22 passes to non-Edelman options for 333 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Ravens. Hopefully Brady can spread the wealth better moving forward.
Winner: Patriots defensive front 7 rotation
We’ll have more information of the rotation once snap counts are available, but the Patriots limited the Ravens rushing attack to 42 yards on 14 carries, of 3.0 yards per carry. That’s an outstanding job by the big guys up front.
Add in DT Malcom Brown’s safety, a shoulda-been strip sack by ED Trey Flowers, a clutch sack by ED Rob Ninkovich, and another nice pass break-up by LB Kyle Van Noy, and you’ve got a winning recipe up front. The Patriots defense has found its groove at the exact right time.
Loser: CB Cyrus Jones
Cyrus Jones wasn’t great on defense, where he allowed a huge 47-yard reception to Ravens WR Breshad Perriman, but he was absolutely horrendous as a punt returner.
What the heck is Cyrus Jones thinking here? He was daaaaangerously close to getting hit by the football at the end of the first half because he was running behind the football. That was a terrible decision and he was lucky the ball didn’t take a weird bounce.
If you’re not going to catch the punt, get the heck away from the landing point. This counts as Jones’ 5th fumble of the year and 3rd one lost. Most of them have been avoidable. How he continues to see time on the field is beyond me.
Winner: P Ryan Allen and CB Jonathan Jones
Jonathan Jones was outstanding, though, making sure that two Ryan Allen punts were stopped at the 1 and 2 yard lines. Jones added an extra tackle for loss on defense when Malcolm Butler was on the sideline with an injury. Don’t be surprised if Jonathan Jones starts to take time away from Cyrus Jones moving forward.
Also, Allen has been outstanding this year and he’s been far more consistent than in years past.
Loser: ST Matthew Slater
Slater is coming back from a foot injury and he made a few good plays as a gunner, but he makes the list for his fumble on his kick return. Slater has never been good at kick returns- he ranks in the bottom 15 in yards per return in NFL history- but head coach Bill Belichick likes putting the veteran back there.
Slater fumbled the ball at a crucial moment and I don’t think anyone was surprised when it happened. This is the second straight kick return that Slater has fumbled (he fumbled against the Bills in week 8). He has fumbled 4 of his past 13 returns dating back to 2011.