Despite the final score of 37-26, the New England Patriots’ loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday was a close affair for much of the day. The lead jumped back and forth between the two teams several times during the first three quarters, and even in the early fourth the Patriots were just five points down.
They certainly had plenty of opportunities to win their home opener against a talented opponent. However, one after the other went by without New England taking advantage of them — a perspective expressed by head coach Bill Belichick after the contest.
“We certainly had our chances today. We weren’t able to take advantage of some of them,” Belichick said during his postgame press conference.
“The Ravens made more plays than we did. They’re a good team. They were able to take advantage of our mistakes. We weren’t able to capitalize on probably as many of theirs. All the way across the board, just a few plays here and there that we need to play better, need to coach better, need to do better. But certainly made too many mistakes today to be able to win.”
A majority of those mistakes happened on the offensive side of the ball. Before the unit lost starting quarterback Mac Jones to injury on its final play of the day, it turned the football over four times: Jones threw three interceptions, including one in the end zone, while wide receiver Nelson Agholor lost a fumble.
NE's 4 turnovers looked like inexcusable mistakes, as did Bourne's fumble and the near-INT on a rub concept at the GL.— Taylor Kyles (@tkyles39) September 25, 2022
Bad decision from Jones on the first INT, what seemed like poor effort from Parker on the fade, a bad miss to KB, and obviously no excuse for fumbles pic.twitter.com/A4Jm1QBE9v
Those giveaways played a major role in New England’s demise considering that the team’s final three possessions all ended with the ball in the defense’s hands.
Even when they fell behind 11 points in the late third quarter, the Patriots had opportunities to climb out of that hole and back into the game. However, they simply were not able to do it.
“You’re not going to win turning the ball over in the fourth quarter,” Belichick said. “You’re behind, you have to be aggressive. But still, we have to do a better job than we did on those plays, for sure.”
The offense was not the only culprit, though. The defense struggled to keep MVP candidate Lamar Jackson in check, allowing him to run for 110 yards and a touchdown on just eight non-kneel-down carries (a healthy average of 13.8 yards per run). He also completed 18 of 29 pass attempts for 218 yards with four touchdowns versus just one interception.
Furthermore, the Ravens averaged 27.5 yards on their two punt returns. It was a collective breakdown for the Patriots, but three weeks into the season the offense remains the biggest issue — especially now that Mac Jones’ availability appears to be up in the air.