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The Lane Breakdown: 10 takeaways from the Patriots’ loss to the Ravens

Related: Patriots vs. Ravens: New England falls to Baltimore 37-26 in home opener

The New England Patriots lost their home opener to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, and, while it wasn’t all pretty, there were some positives to take away from the game. Obviously, though, the biggest story is the Mac Jones injury, but we will first talk about the game itself before digging into that topic.

Let’s get into our 10 takeaways from the Patriots’ 37-26 loss to the Ravens.

1. Mac Jones needs to clean up his decision making: The Patriots offense moved the ball at will on Sunday, and really did a pretty good job getting into Ravens territory. The problem is, when it did, mistakes and bad decisions by quarterback Mac Jones doomed the unit.

The interceptions he threw — even taking out the last one when he got hurt — were ugly throws that were bad calls on his part. It looks like he might be missing some time, but one of the reasons to hope for a quick return is that he needs to fix these issues that he’s been having. The only way to get them better is by actually playing.

2. DeVante Parker steps up with Jakobi Meyers out: The Patriots traded a third-round draft pick for DeVante Parker this offseason, but after a dominant training camp was a non-factor in Weeks 1 and 2. That all changed this weekend, when he went for 156 yards, and had a few very nice catches in traffic.

Mac Jones did have two more interceptions while targeting the wideout, but if Parker can play the way he did on Sunday the Patriots are going to be in good shape moving forward. He played like a true No. 1 receiver, which was good news on a day that saw the nominal WR, Jakobi Meyers, inactive due to a knee injury.

3. Lamar Jackson is incredible: The New England defense played pretty good, even though it did end up surrendering 37 points. The fact is that Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is just a special player. Baltimore is able to do a bunch of different things that put stress on the defense because of his ability to both run and throw the ball at such a high level.

He threw for 218 yards and four touchdowns ran for 107 and another score, and was all but unstoppable at times on Sunday. Considering who they were playing, the defense had its moments against the former MVP. Sometimes, a supremely talented player just beats you and that’s what happened to the Patriots on Sunday.

4. Self-inflicted issues down the Patriots again: The Patriots are 1-2 after three games, and they have a combined -5 turnover differential in their two losses. This team is simply not good enough to turn the ball over four times and win a game, and Sunday was another example of that. The errors extended beyond giving the ball aways, however.

Right tackle Isaiah Wynn continues to pile up penalties, with a false start and a holding call killing drives for the offense. He did the same thing last week, which turned a 47-yard field goal attempt into a 52-yarder that Nick Folk missed. Sloppy play is something that the Patriots have avoided for years, but it has plagued them for the last few. They need to clean that up if they want to return to their consistent winning ways.

5. Deatrich Wise Jr. had a great, well, first half: Wise Jr. was all over the field in the first half, and became the first Patriot to record three sacks in a half since Chandler Jones in 2015. He also made a few very nice plays against the run, and chased Lamar Jackson down in the open field at one point.

For some reason, though, he was less of a factor in the second half, but it was still a solid game for him. Wise Jr. has really come into his own in his sixth year in the system, and is one of the Patriots’ most consistent and reliable playmakers on the defensive side of the ball now.

6. Rhamondre Stevenson continues to impress: The Patriots got a good one when they drafted Rhamondre Stevenson last year. He played well as a rookie, but has really impressed at the beginning of this season. He is running with confidence, and has been tough to stop.

Damien Harris is on the final year of his deal, and, especially with the selection of two other backs this year, the Patriots may be feeling okay about moving on from him because of what they have been getting from the sophomore. The Harris-Stevenson combo has been quite good this season, and the Patriots may need to lean on it even more in the coming weeks.

7. The Patriots sorely missed Kyle Dugger: Kyle Dugger is one of the most dynamic players on the Patriots defense, and not having him hurt them against Baltimore because Mark Andrews absolutely killed the Patriots. Dugger would most likely have been on him Sunday and although he probably would not have shut him down either, you’d have to imagine that he would have been able to do a better job than the rest of the team did.

The hope is that Dugger, who was able to practice on a limited basis on Friday, doesn’t miss any more time. New England will need all hands on deck on defense, if the offense will be without its starting quarterback for an extended period of time. Speaking of that...

8. Mac Jones’ ankle injury ends the game on the lowest note: On the final offensive play of the game, Mac Jones hurt his ankle and was carried to the Patriots locker room. The initial fear was that he had suffered a fracture of sorts, but initial X-rays were reportedly negative, which is good, but not great, since it looks like he might be dealing with a high ankle sprain.

The hard part about that type of injury is that it takes a lot longer to come back from, and the exact length of the injury varies from player to player and injury to injury. There is no way to know exactly how long Jones will be out, but him missing at least some time seems like a given. Maybe he will be able to gut it out and make it back sooner rather than later, but only time will tell.

9. The Patriots will need to win a few games without their starting quarterback: Not having your starting QB is a huge blow for the Patriots, but they now need to find a way to win at least one or two of their games while Jones is out, assuming that he misses around four to six contests.

Their next six games before the Week 10 bye are against the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears, New York Jets, and Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots have enough talent on their roster and coaching staff that they should be able to win at least one, if not more, of those games, even without Mac Jones.

The last memory that Patriots fans have of backup Brian Hoyer is a dreadful game in Kansas City back in 2020, but you have to hope that he can just be serviceable enough to not lose you any games — something he should be better at if not forced into the starting lineup a mere hours before the game.

10. There were plenty of positives from this game: The Patriots lost by 11 points, saw their starting quarterback go down, and made a ton of mistakes. They also had two drives while they were down only five, and simply choked the ball away twice. Obviously, mistakes like these cannot happen, but the Patriots showed that they can play with a very good team.

That doesn’t mean that they are a great team themselves, but you saw flashes from players. They may or may not end up winning these type of games this year, in particular with Jones’ status TBD. However, there is hope.