This article is coming late, but only because I’ve been arguing with (read: trolling) New England Patriots fans for the last 48 hours on the Twitters. A huge win is always so much better when it’s against a team with an arrogant, salty fanbase, isn’t it? For those interested in reading the hilarity that ensued, the majority of it is in this tweet. (Be warned, explicit content.) However, I’ve moved on to Cincinnati, so it’s time to go over what went right, what went wrong, and who was the star of the game. Let’s begin!
The Baltimore Ravens won. And what’s more, they did so in dominating fashion, for much of the game. The Patriots’ vaunted number one defense came into the game being talked about as ‘one of the greatest of all-time’. But the thing that really stood out to me the most was the coaching. I’ve given John Harbaugh a rash of shit for his coaching decisions, more than once. However, his coaching in this game was, in a word, phenomenal.
The Ravens were coming off of a bye week after a statement victory over the Seattle Seahawks, and sometimes teams can get overly cocky off of a big win, or complacent out of a bye. The Ravens did neither, and a large part of that – I believe – is because Harbs kept them ready. (If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready, shoutout Pat McAfee.) They came out swinging after losing the coin toss, with Greg Roman calling an unbelievably smart offense. Wink Martindale pacified the New England offense, keeping Tom Brady pressured and confused with disguised looks and blitzing 51% of the time – even getting Earl Thomas in on the fun, with an almost-sack early.
Then came a momentum shift, when Cyrus Jones muffed a punt (more on that later), and the air was sucked out of the stadium. But the Ravens didn’t blink after the Patriots stormed back from a 17-point deficit (not going to lie, made me think of 2014). They shook themselves off and continued punching Belichick and Co. in the mouth. Whether it was the run game, which racked up 210 yards on 41 carries with three scores, or the passing game, the Ravens were able to move the ball on the ‘Boogeymen’ with ease, showing a chink the armor of the only (formerly) undefeated team in the AFC. A team that hadn’t allowed more than 14 points in any game this season, gave up 37 to Baltimore.
‘It was just the Dolphins.’ they said. Well when you give up the second-most points of any team the Ravens have faced.. maybe it was just the Patriots.
Guys, not everything went right. The once-daunting special teams unit of the Baltimore Ravens has shown some cracks, and they were in full display on Sunday night.
There were coverage breaches. Justin freakin’ Tucker missed an extra point (like, what?). Tackles were missed. The returners could barely return. Oh yeah, and Cyrus Jones muffed a punt (still more on that later).
You could sense the disgust in Harbs’ voice when he spoke on these issues in his press conference. Special Teams mishaps simply do not happen in Baltimore, and they’ve already taken steps to rectify them (they recently signed RS De’Anthony Thomas, waiving Maurice Canady to make room, thank the gods). You can bet that in the ST meetings, they’re being ripped apart, and they know that they deserve it.
Also, a large majority of the fanbase was hungover on Monday. That’s never fun.
The Ravens have just seven total fumbles on the year, as a team. A huge change from the pace of 2018 through nine games. However.
Mark Ingram fumbled, and it led to a Patriots score. He doesn’t fumble much, and I’m not here to tear him apart, but you simply cannot fumble in crucial moments, in big games. That’s how you lose big games.
Cyrus Jones muffed a punt, and him I will tear apart, because he literally has one job. If you can’t hang onto the ball as the punt return specialist, then you should lose your job, period. The Ravens kept Jones over Canady, obviously preferring him as a backup’s backup corner option, but if you’ll notice, he was ripped out of the game very quickly, and we didn’t see him again.
Hold. On. To. The. Heckin’. Ball.
The McKayla Maroney
This week, it isn’t a single player getting the award, but an entire position group.
That group? Is the offensive line. The Patriots walked into this game leading the league in sacks. The offensive line gave up one sack all night. The Patriots came into the game in the Top 4 for tackles for a loss. The Ravens had two negative/even runs the entire night. The offensive line, which had caught heat earlier in the season, stood up and played their best game of the year so far. If they continue to play like they did on Sunday night, it bodes well for this team’s chances headed into the postseason, which seems to be right where they’re headed.
On a related note, can we talk about Bradley Bozeman‘s development? I’d venture to say he had the best game of his career, which is a beautiful sight to see given the early-season state of the interior offensive line. By no means do I think he’s a top-tier left guard, but he’s definitely stepped his game up in the last couple of weeks, against some serious competition.
Not to end on a somber note, but this kind of victory brings joy, followed by a nagging fear that this team could get too cocky, and lose to the winless Bengals in Week 10. Do I think it will happen? No. But it smells like a trap game, in the sense that it could be tougher than it needs to be, especially with A.J. Green returning and an unknown at quarterback.
But that’s enough of that. What did I miss? Speak your mind on Twitter, where you can find me @LateRoundCorner. Also remember to follow all the guys here at Russell Street Report for more average-to-excellent content!