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OWINGS MILLS — Baltimore Ravens running back Willis McGahee ran roughshod over the New England Patriots, spinning linebacker Junior Seau around like a top and trucking former Ravens linebacker Adalius Thomas in another physical exchange.
It was his top performance since joining the Ravens in an offseason trade from the Buffalo Bills as he racked up 138 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries.
Yet, McGaheeâ€™s individual success Monday night was ultimately overshadowed by a heartbreaking 27-24 loss to the undefeated Patriots as Baltimore (4-8) lost its sixth game in a row.
â€œThe loss takes away everything,â€ said McGahee, who has gained 1,048 yards this season. â€œWe played our hearts out. We had some bogus calls, but you know, it is what it is.â€
In his five previous games against New England, McGahee had rushed for just 305 yards on 93 carries for a 61.0 average with 3.3 yards per carry.
This was the first time in McGahee’s career that he had ever pierced the Patriotsâ€™ end zone.
â€œHuge, huge,â€ Ravens coach Brian Billick said of McGaheeâ€™s contribution. â€œI thought he ran the ball well against an outstanding football team. Very pleased with the way he ran the ball.â€
Why have the Ravens waited so long to make McGahee the focal point of a typically stagnant attack?
â€œSorry it took so long, but that was just a glimpse of what this offense can do,â€ McGahee said.
This was McGaheeâ€™s fourth 100-yard game of the season, marking his seventh consecutive game with a rushing touchdown.
â€œWillis is capable of doing that week in and week out,â€ wide receiver Mark Clayton said. â€œThatâ€™s the kind of ball we can play.â€
NO LOVE LOST: Billick blew at least three kisses in the direction of New England safety and renowned tough guy Rodney Harrison, an unusual gesture from an NFL head coach.
"Iâ€™m married, so he canâ€™t be my girlfriend,â€ Harrison said regarding Billick. â€œIâ€™m not that kind of guy."
Billick’s gesture was in response to Harrison having harsh words for quarterback Kyle Boller.
"Rodney made a comment about my quarterback," Billick said during his weekly radio show. "That was my way of telling Rodney, ‘Kiss my backside.’ It was a lot less obscene than some other things I’ve done or said. If the caller wants to think that’s undisciplined and unprofessional for a head coach, that’s okay."
BIG RETURN: Tight end Daniel Wilcox caught a touchdown pass in his first game back from a sprained toe suffered Sept. 30 against the Cleveland Browns.
Having two tight ends on the field for a change appeared to make a big difference in the coverage as Quinn Sypniewski drew some attention away from Wilcox.
â€œThey forgot about me,â€ Wilcox said. â€œThatâ€™s a situation where three guys jumped Quinn and left me wide open. They totally forgot about No. 83. All I had to do was catch the ball. It was easy.
â€œItâ€™s a blessing just to be out there. I played with a lot of emotion. The guys have my back, and I definitely want them to know that I have theirs.â€
INJURY UPDATE: Defensive tackle Justin Bannan left the game with a sprained medial collateral ligament and didn’t return.
Meanwhile, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata downplayed a mild neck injury.
â€œIâ€™m fine, just a little stinger,â€ he said. â€œI hit the running back and my neck kind of popped out. I extended out my arm and it just kind of locked up, but Iâ€™m fine.â€
Quarterback Steve McNair underwent surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff on his non-throwing shoulder.
TALKING TRASH: Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss was held to four catches for 34 yards and one touchdown by cornerback Chris McAlister.
Moss entered the game with a league-high 16 touchdowns.
Moss, who completely lost McAlister with a quick inside pattern to the back of the end zone on his lone score, took exception to the Ravens’ mouthiness.
"There was just so much trash-talking, man, from guys who really hadn’t done anything in the league," Moss said. "Me being a 10-year vet and seeing those other guys out there talking smack, they haven’t done anything yet. We shut them up and that was a good thing. I’m not a trash-talker. I talk with my play, not with my mouth."
HONORING TAYLOR: The Ravens wore No. 21 stickers on the back of their helmets to honor slain Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor, and middle linebacker Ray Lewis had No. 21 stenciled on his eye-black stickers.
Lewis, safety Ed Reed and McGahee, who all played at the University of Miami like Taylor, wanted to attend Taylor’s Monday funeral, but were unable to do so because of concerns that the weather might prevent them from making it to the game on time.
"I really wanted to go to the funeral," McGahee said. "I would have been drained, just from the flight alone. I was just playing for him, basically dedicating the rest of the season to him."
QUICK HITS: The Ravens sacked Tom Brady three times, including rookie outside linebacker Antwan Barnesâ€™ first NFL sack. It was the most times Brady has been sacked all year. â€¦ New England produced a season-low 326 total net yards with Baltimore limiting the Patriots to another season-low: 2-for-12 on third-down conversions. … The Ravens didn’t allow a sack.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.