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Patriots vs. Ravens: Fan Notes from the Game

Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots’ 37-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

NFL: New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

That was great.

No, I haven’t lost it. Well, I probably have, but that’s neither here nor there.

Last night’s game between the Ravens and the Patriots was an absolute beatdown. The Ravens moved the ball at will against a defense that everyone was comparing to the 1985 Bears. The Patriots offense continued to struggle to a degree that has plagued them all season. They found some momentum towards the middle of the game, but costly penalties and turnovers short-circuited any chance they had of taking a road win from a very good team.

And I love it.

I do. This was exactly what this team needed. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

  • When the Patriots beat the Washington Redskins a few weeks ago, I had this to say towards the end of my Fan Notes:
  • I’m going to go ahead and say it: the Patriots need to lose a game and lose a game soon. I think at this point in the season a bad loss is exactly what they need. Maybe the execution issues were the results of complacency. Or maybe the Patriots see this defense and are taking the Alec Shane approach to group projects: let the smart kid do all the work, sit back, do as little as possible, and get the A anyway. I think a loss, and maybe a bad one at that, will really get everyone focused. Plus, with KC losing last night, there’s a bit of a cushion now.
  • I would most certainly classify a 17 point loss in primetime as the Pats head into a bye week as just such a loss.
  • I’ll get into the whys of why this is one of the best things to happen to this team in a bit, but first, I guess I should try and break the game down.
  • Although there isn’t all that much to break down, as this was a game in which the Ravens more or less imposed their will. They may be the only team in the NFL that can engineer an offensive gameplan that simultaneously forces a defense to plug the middle against power runs while simultaneously setting both edges to account for a highly mobile QB, and as the coaching staff tried to adjust, the Patriots just got beat, plain and simple.
  • It’s annoying too, because the Patriots finally won the coin toss and deferred. I feel like it’s been a long time since the Patriots won the coin toss and deferred. Rather than take 45 seconds and look up whether or not I’m right about that feeling, I’m just going to assume I am and move on.
  • Credit to Baltimore as well for seeing how heavy the Patriots went early and utilizing stretch runs and quick outs to the tight ends in order to make their first few scoring drives a track meet.
  • Even with Baltimore’s lighting fast start, some uncharacteristic penalties and poor discipline didn’t do the D any favors. A FG attempt became a touchdown on an offsides penalty, and another 4th down play was kept alive via guys getting too antsy.
  • And while the Patriots were sloppy, undisciplined, and hesitant, I don’t want to chalk this up as one of those games the Pats play every year where they just forget to get out of bed that day and drop a game to some crap team. The Ravens imposed their will on the ground in a way I haven’t seen in a while. The Patriots knew they were going to run it, and had gameplanned all week for it. But it didn’t matter. Baltimore sat on their chest, started tapping them aggressively on the forehead, and shouted “name five cereals! Name five cereals!” over and over until everyone was crying uncle.
  • Last night was my first time watching Lamar Jackson this season in a non-highlight kind of capacity, which gave me a chance to see how he commanded the line of scrimmage, how he read the defense, and all of the things that actually make up being a quarterback besides style points. What a joy that was to see. He only threw it for 163 yards, so I’d be curious to see if/when he can win a game through the air...but when you’re running the ball that successfully, there really isn’t much of a need to throw it.
  • One of the many things that drives me nuts about the way quarterbacks are evaluated these days is how heavily some people tend to weigh flash over substance. Somehow style points count for way more than every other element of the position. Reading the defense, putting a player in motion, throwing a guy open, and taking what the defense gives you has somehow become secondary to being able to run around in the backfield for 30 seconds and throw a pass behind your back.
  • If I was a billionaire, I’d hire Ed Reed to walk around smoking a cigar in my general vicinity at all times. What a legend. And his Hall of Fame bust deserves its own wing in Canton
  • There really wasn’t anything fancy about the offensive gameplan for the Ravens; power runs, win the upfront battle, utilize Jackson as a runner enough to keep the defense honest, and run a lot of high percentage routes. Baltimore was able to use the tight ends on shallow out routes and just pound the ball right up the middle, and New England didn’t really have any answers. It seemed like the defense was so worried about Lamar Jackson the runner that they kind of forgot there were other weapons on the field.
  • I will say, overall, that I was pleasantly surprised with the offense. I don’t think I’ve seen so much 11 personnel in a single game in my life, but necessity is the mother of invention. Brady was able to figure out Baltimore’s blitzing schemes after a few drives, switched to no-huddle, and had good success. If not for a brutal Julian Edelman fumble and continued horrible pass protection, who knows if this game would have turned out differently. That’s not to say that the Patriots deserved to win - far from it - but they had the ball back and were driving for the lead when the ball hit the ground and the score was 13-24 as opposed to 20-17.
  • Will Isaiah Wynn’s return, along with the return of N’Keal Harry, suddenly fix those pass protection issues? Maybe. I’m not sure. We’re dangling right at the precipice of the “it is what it is” portion of the season, and while at this point I’ll take a well-planted political campaign sign at left tackle over Marshall Newhouse, I don’t know if Wynn is going to last the rest of the year nor do I know how good he’ll be.
  • Speaking of campaign signs - I avoid talking politics like the plague (and I kindly request that you all do as well while on this site), but driving home one day I saw a sign for a woman running for local office with nothing but her name and the slogan “Traffic Stinks.” Now that’s how you reach out to the community.
  • Good old Cyrus Jones. Don’t miss that guy one bit.
  • If you’re concerned about the run defense at this point, particularly against bigger backs, I think it’s fair to have some questions. Nick Chubb and Mark Ingram both gashed New England for big gains. But I’d wait just a bit longer before writing them off completely.
  • You’re never going to convince me that Julian Edelman doesn’t love getting flipped around like a helicopter on about every third catch he makes.
  • It’s absolutely unacceptable that it’s November 4th and we’re already seeing holiday Lexus commercials. I don’t know if I can take two straight months of a dad and his kid getting creative hiding the Lexus from mom.
  • Sony Michel’s offseason goal is to get better at route running. He’s catching the ball better, but he can’t read a linebacker yet and on a few occasions he zagged when he should have zigged, and the ball fell where the zig was supposed to have zigged out.
  • Speaking of zigging out...I’m still trying to figure out how a pass aimed for Phillip Dorsett before he broke inside when he was supposed to break outside constitutes Intentional Grounding.
  • One of the two big silver linings I’m taking away from this game is Mohamed Sanu’s development. It wasn’t a good look for him on that Brady pick, where it seemed like he kind of gave up on the route and then didn’t chase the runner down, but other than that he looks crisp in his routes, knows how to use his body to get open, and blocks well on running plays.
  • The other is the way that the Patriots were able to limit Lamar Jackson’s scrambles. They weren’t able to do much at all on designed runs, but when the play broke down and Jackson looked to take off, he wasn’t able to do the kind of damage he usually does. You aren’t going to be able to stop a player of Jackson’s caliber all the time, but a big concern coming into this game was limiting broken plays, and New England did that.
  • That said, they may have focused on that a little too much this week.
  • Baltimore had two weeks to prepare for this game, they ran a unique offense that New England just wasn’t ready for, and that’s all there is to it. If these two teams play again, it will be in Foxboro, and when has Bill Belichick ever been caught with his pants down twice in the same season?
  • That’s Bob Kraft’s department anyway.

The next phase of my master plan is for anybody and everybody with a pulse to jump all over the Patriots incessantly over the next few weeks. Commenting on how they spent eight weeks beating up on nobodies and when they finally faced a real opponent they crumpled like cheap dry cleaning. I’m looking to see memes everywhere, storyline after storyline of Tom Brady is Done narratives, and that this defense is just a bunch of chumps. I’m hoping it all comes out over the next few days, and then the Patriots can just stew on it as they head into their bye and get ready to take on the home stretch of the regular season.

Time for a relaxing week off from football. As I have for the past several years now during Patriots bye weeks (sadly, perhaps, as I never used to do this), I won’t be giving the NFL any of my time or attention while I continue to understand more and more that this league kind of sucks now and maybe I’d be better off without it in my life. I suggest everyone here do the same - unless you feel like Tweeting that the O-line is trash and the defense got exposed. Feel free to do that at will, early and often. New England will come out of their bye healthier, more focused, more disciplined, and with a very bad taste in their mouth.

Can’t think of a better way to head into November than that.