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Patriots vs Ravens advanced stats: New England’s run defense and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

Related: Patriots vs Ravens snap counts: 11-personnel helps New England’s offense find a groove

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

The New England Patriots’ undefeated season has come to an end after eight wins: on Sunday night, the team was beaten 37-20 by the Baltimore Ravens to fall to 8-1 on the year. New England played a sloppy and at times undisciplined game on both sides of the ball, and simply made to many mistakes to overcome the 17-point deficit in which the team found itself early on during the contest.

With that all being said, let’s dig a little deeper and analyze the advanced statistics to come out of Sunday’s game.

Pass distribution

NFL Next Gen Stats

While he did throw an interception on a pass intended for Mohamed Sanu, Tom Brady did generally play a solid game against the Ravens. He spread the football round well, and got into a good rhythm when New England used an up-tempo no-huddle approach. Most of the passing was done in the short range, yes, but the 42-year-old successfully stringed enough of those plays together to move the football down the field.

Brady did that by moving around very well in an oft-collapsing pocket, by throwing mostly accurate passes all day long, and by making good decisions with the football. Despite what the national talking heads may say about his performance and the aforementioned turnover, Brady definitely was not the reason the Patriots lost — rather why they were close to climbing out of an early 17-point hole in the first place.

Lamar Jackson, meanwhile, also did not go deep against the Patriots — a good plan considering the quality the team has in the secondary. Instead, the quarterback and offensive coordinator Greg Roman decided to attack the short and intermediate parts of the field as a complementary way of moving the football on the ground. All in all, Jackson attempted just 23 passes compared to the team’s 41 rushing attempts.

Offensive rush direction

NFL Next Gen Stats

As mentioned above, the Patriots went for a pass-first plan of the no-huddle variety to attack Baltimore’s defense. As a result, the running game saw comparatively little action with third down/change of pace back James White as the primary ball carrier on Sunday night: the veteran received a team-high nine carries and gained 38 yards while also scoring a touchdown. Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead, meanwhile, saw only four carries each.

While the run calls were limited, the Patriots had one of their most efficient days of the season on the ground. With Baltimore allocating resources to stop the pass and with the offensive line doing a solid job of blocking up front, New England was able to average 4.4 yards on the 17 combined carries.

Pass receiving

Pass receiving statistics

Player Snaps Targets Completions Yards Yards after Catch Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Drops
Player Snaps Targets Completions Yards Yards after Catch Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Drops
Mohamed Sanu 67 14 10 81 44 1 1 79.8 0
Julian Edelman 67 11 10 89 34 0 0 100.4 0
Benjamin Watson 67 5 4 28 17 0 0 90.0 1
Phillip Dorsett II 66 4 2 13 1 0 0 57.3 0
James White 28 3 2 46 23 0 0 109.7 0
Rex Burkhead 24 2 1 16 18 0 0 77.1 0
Sony Michel 15 2 1 12 17 0 0 68.8 0
NFL/Pro Football Focus

New England’s pass-first approach created plenty of opportunities for the team’s pass catchers, and they were mostly productive: Mohamed Sanu and Julian Edelman saw most of the action and performed well (with the exception of Edelman’s third quarter fumble and Sanu not being on the same page as Tom Brady on the interception), while Benjamin Watson was thrown the football five times as a complementary piece.

On the other hand, neither James White nor Phillip Dorsett II saw much involvement as receiving options: White was targeted just three times all day despite being one of the best pure receiving backs in all of football, while Dorsett caught only two passes for a combined 13 yards. The latter’s involvement in the offense will be interesting to see once first-round rookie N’Keal Harry returns to action after the bye week.

Why did the rookie not play a role on Sunday after getting activated to the active roster the day before? Given that New England’s game plan was pass-centric and reliant on speed and quick communication, the team may have felt that having the inexperienced youngster who just came off an eight week-stint on injured reserve inactive is the best course of action.

Receiver separation

NFL Next Gen Stats

Part of the reason why Tom Brady had a rather successful game was his decision making: despite the Patriots falling down quickly, he did not try to force passes into tight coverage and generally rather only went towards the open receiver. Lamar Jackson played a similar game, but also trusted tight end Mark Andrews and wide receiver Willie Snead in closely contested situations — both men awarded their quarterback’s faith and made some big receptions on the day.

Pass protection

Pass protection statistics

Player Snaps Sacks QB Hits Hurries
Player Snaps Sacks QB Hits Hurries
Marshall Newhouse 67 1.0 2 1
Marcus Cannon 67 0.0 1 2
Shaq Mason 67 0.0 1 0
Joe Thuney 67 0.0 1 0
Ted Karras 67 0.0 0 0

Tom Brady dropped back to pass 48 times, with the Ravens pressuring him on nine occasions for a rate of 21.4% — not bad by any means, but some of the mistakes up front came at unfortunate times. Marshall Newhouse, who allowed four of the team’s disruptions, gave up a hurry that led to the (rather questionable) intentional grounding call against Brady before moving the team back even further due to a holding call on the very next play.

Newhouse remains the offensive line’s weak link, but the other four players performed mostly well: Joe Thuney and Ted Karras were their usual solid selves, with Marcus Cannon playing his best game of the season on Sunday. Shaq Mason was responsible for a holding call on a 1st and goal run from the 7-yard line, but other than that was also serviceable. Isaiah Wynn replacing Newhouse as early as Week 12 should certainly help the entire unit.

Pass rush/run defense

Pass rush/run defense statistics

Player Snaps Sacks QB Hits Hurries Run stops
Player Snaps Sacks QB Hits Hurries Run stops
Kyle Van Noy 68 0.0 1 1 0
Dont'a Hightower 55 0.0 0 1 2
Lawrence Guy 53 1.0 1 0 1
Danny Shelton 41 0.0 0 1 0
Adam Butler 40 0.0 0 1 0
J.C. Jackson 29 0.0 1 0 0
Ja'Whaun Bentley 23 0.0 0 1 2
Byron Cowart 21 0.0 0 1 0
Chase Winovich 9 0.0 1 0 0

The Ravens’ run-heavy attack produced limited opportunities for New England’s pass rushers to get into the backfield, and the team disrupted Lamar Jackson just 11 times all day. Considering that he dropped back to pass 26 times on the day, however, the pressure rate of 42.3% was good and in line with what the team generally produces throughout the season so far. Defending the pass was hardly an issue for the front-line defense.

Defensive rush direction

NFL Next Gen Stats

The Patriots defense entered the game with issues against the run, and the Ravens took full advantage. Led by dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson and offseason acquisition Mark Ingram II, Baltimore produced time-consuming drives and was consistently able to find holes in New England’s front seven to get to the second level on running plays. No matter if it attacked around the edge or up the middle, the team generated considerable lanes for its backs.

How could this have happened? Part of the issue was gap control: the Patriots play a two-gap system that is built on the principles of defensive linemen clogging the gaps on either side of the blockers in front of them. Holding a strong anchor and not being moved off the spot are key elements here, but the Ravens did a good job of exploiting just that: Baltimore’s offensive line simply overpowered the front-line blockers and in combination with some good second-level blocking created space for the ball-carriers to operate.

Furthermore, the Patriots had a hard time setting a stout edge with linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. as a prime example. The offseason (re-)signing, who is in the middle of a spectacular campaign, had arguably his worst game of the year as a run defender: he was sucked too far to the inside on both the Ravens’ 26-yard first-quarter run off a shovel pass, and on the 3-yard score by Lamar Jackson a few plays later. Collins being out of position was far from the only problem, it is rather exemplary for the sloppy game New England played.

Pass rush separation

NFL Next Gen Stats

Despite getting only limited opportunities, as noted above, the Patriots’ pass rush was actually quite solid when it came to putting pressure on Lamar Jackson — and the pass rush separation chart shows: defensive tackles Adam Butler and Lawrence Guy in particular were able to get close to the Ravens’ quarterback on a regular basis, even though his elusiveness proved to be a problem for a Patriots defense that was vulnerable to cut-back and outside runs.

Baltimore’s defense, meanwhile, also did a good job collapsing the pocket at times, even though the offensive line limited the actual impact on Brady as the pass protection numbers shows. The quarterback himself, of course, also played a big part in that as he moved around well to buy himself and his receivers additional time.

Pass coverage

Pass coverage statistics

Player Snaps Targets Completions Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Pass Breakups
Player Snaps Targets Completions Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Pass Breakups
Devin McCourty 69 3 1 5 1 0 81.9 0
Stephon Gilmore 66 2 2 22 0 0 112.5 0
Dont'a Hightower 55 5 5 39 0 0 99.2 0
Jason McCourty 45 2 1 7 0 0 58.3 1
Patrick Chung 27 1 1 3 0 0 79.2 0
Elandon Roberts 24 1 1 18 0 0 118.8 0
Terrence Brooks 22 1 1 18 0 0 118.8 0

As noted above, the Ravens attacked primarily the underneath areas in the passing game which is reflected in linebacker Dont’a Hightower’s high number of targets. But while the veteran surrendered five catches on five targets for 39 yards, he was able to tackle well and limit yards after the receptions surrendered. However, it was obvious that Baltimore wanted to match up its tight ends and running backs against him and the Patriots’ linebacker corps.

Other than that, the numbers were fairly solid across the board even though man-to-man matchups were limited when compared to other games: New England played a lot of zone coverage concepts to combat the threat that Lamar Jackson presented as a runner. While this helped limit Jackson’s impact somewhat — he gained “only” 61 yards on 16 rushing attempts for 3.8 yards, but he also had two scores — it did little to stop Mark Ingram from running all over the defense.