The Ravens were beaten by the Patriots, 23-17, in unsavory New England conditions. The loss places a big dent in the team’s aspirations for a third straight AFC North title and drops Baltimore into the 7th-seed in the AFC, which happens to be the final playoff spot should the season end today.
But the Ravens left Foxborough with more than just an extra digit in the L column. They lost a big part of the team’s heart and soul when Nick Boyle went down with a season-ending knee injury leaving John Harbaugh with just one true tight end – Mark Andrews. The Ravens also lost the services of Brandon Williams early in the game to an ankle injury and that development, coupled with the Calais Campbell injury last week puts the Ravens D-line rotation in a rather daunting position. And it showed early on. Somewhere, Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans must be licking their chops to get after the Ravens run defense.
There’s plenty of blame to go around with few bright spots. Let’s get to it, shall we?
After falling behind 23-10 at the 6:24 mark of the third quarter, the Ravens looked dead in the Gillette Stadium water. But let’s give them credit for rallying in very difficult circumstances to close within one score and set themselves up with a chance to win the game…Save for a very poor decision by Lamar Jackson on his throw to Marquise Brown towards the end of the first half, the 2019 MVP played well, particularly when the elements are factored in. Jackson was 24 of 34 for 249 yards and a passer rating of 98.8. He also added 55 yards on the ground to lead all Ravens rushers.
Gus Edwards was productive and you have to wonder why his number wasn’t called more often. The Bus had 42 yards on just 7 carries and added another 31 yards on a reception along the right sideline…Willie Snead had 64 yards on 5 catches including 2 TDs…Mark Andrews chipped in with 7 catches for 61 yards despite attention directed his way to choke off his production, although his drop off a mostly uncontested pass on second and 3 was inexcusable…Devin Duvernay continues to make a statement for more plays directed his way. He was 3 for 3 on targets for 45 yards. The swing pass to DD off motion to the right with both tight ends pulling to lead the way for 19 yards was nicely designed…Patrick Ricard did a really nice job to race across the offensive backfield to pick up an unaccounted for blitzing corner that Lamar chose to ignore.
Matt Judon’s sack was an explosive play and ended a Patriots drive while pushing them out of field goal range. He also made a big play in run support scraping behind the LOS to drop Damien Harris for a loss…Derek Wolfe was one of the few Ravens defenders who was stout at the point of attack when defending the run. He had 7 tackles…Chris Board did a nice job subbing for Malik Harrison late in the game when DC Wink Martindale could take no more of the rookie’s poor performance…Marcus Peters was surprisingly strong in run support and chipped in for one tackle-for-loss…DeShon Elliott exhibited solid tackling and helped to force a couple of Patriots’ punts following sure tackling on third down…Tramon Williams had a decent Ravens debut…Sam Koch’s punt at the 11:30 mark of the fourth quarter that netted 58 yards to the New England 8 was clutch and gave the Ravens a chance to win with a strong defensive stand – a stand that didn’t come.
Mark Ingram looks like he’s hit a career wall. He had 5 yards on 5 carries and at this point, he just looks like he’s in the way…Miles Boykin got a paycheck for showing up and punching the clock. That’s about all he did. We should start calling him Miles B-2 after the Stealth Bomber. Like the bomber, he’s barely detectable…Bradley Bozeman’s holding penalty after a Lamar Jackson run of 14 yards with 1:04 left in the game, for all intents and purposes, dashed any remaining hope for the Ravens…The Ravens did little in the way of rubs, picks or stacks to challenge the Patriots man coverage while Pats’ OC Josh McDaniel constantly challenged the Ravens with such tactics.
Justin Ellis looked like he was on roller skates — again. Not ideal for a run stuffer…Jaylon Ferguson had improved as an edge setter leading into this game. Tonight, he digressed…Chuck Clark’s offsides penalty at the 2:40 mark of the fourth was uncharacteristically inept for the defensive captain who carries the reputation of being a heady player. I guess the argument could be made that it was intentional. Desperate times call for desperate measures…Justice Hill’s personal foul for hitting the punt returner after signaling a fair catch was that of a clueless player.
D.J. Fluker looked like a turnstile at the stadium and the tickets were free. He let John Simon get inside of him to deflect a Jackson pass on the Ravens first possession. Later on, he had a false start when the Ravens faced a second and ONE! He was flagged for holding on 3rd and 7 that was declined after an unsuccessful play and then later gave up a sack on the Ravens final possession of the first half. By then Greg Roman had seen enough and Fluker was benched by Q3…Matt Skura was ridiculously bad with his snaps and if forced to single out a scapegoat in the loss, Skura is it. On 4th-and-1 at the Ravens 48, Skura sent an errant direct snap to Ingram that ended in an 11-yard loss and turnover on downs. A couple other times Skura’s snaps disrupted the timing of plays but he was bailed out by the good hands of Lamar “Allstate” Jackson. But then came the Skura dagger. After a first down that set the Ravens up on their own 38 with 6:01 remaining, Skura sent a ground ball by Lamar who was forced to save the possession by diving on the ball and taking an 11-yard loss. The Ravens never really had a chance after that. Patrick Mekari should probably take over at center but given how thin the Ravens are at tackle, who knows what they’ll do moving forward given Fluker’s follies.
Back to that 4th-and-1 direct snap for a moment. WHAT WAS THAT? You seriously take your best player off the field in what at the time was the game’s most crucial moment? And John Harbaugh afterwards went on about how the play had options? C’mon man! The play limits options. Especially when put a non-quarterback behind a center who looks like he’s auditioning for the Pro Bowlers Tour.
Patrick Queen was used and abused. On the flea flicker to Rex Burkhead, judging from Queen’s “ball skills” on the play, you’d think he never covered an RB out of the backfield. The gadget play’s design probably had Queen deficiencies in coverage in mind. Queen may have contributed 9 tackles, only one of which was impactful. Most of the evening he was out of position, getting blown out of position or simply unable to disengage from blocks. Once Patriots ball carriers got beyond the line of scrimmage Queen looked like Rodney the Robot from Lost in Space calling out Will Robinson. By the 13:17 mark of the third quarter after a four play, 75-yard TD drive, the Patriots were averaging 6.2 yards per carry and a lot of that was on Queen, as was Damien Harris’ career high 121 yards…Malik Harrison wasn’t any better. He looked stiff and slow and it was no surprise that his night ended on the bench. If L.J. Fort was available, Queen may have joined Harrison.
Boneheaded penalties were once again on display for the Ravens. They had 46 more penalty yards than the Patriots and the weekly illegal formation laundry was out once again. That just wreaks of poor preparation, poor coaching, mentally challenged players or all of the above. Let’s face it, the Ravens are an undisciplined team…Eric DeCosta will need a magic wand this week. He’ll need to turn some players into tight ends, tackles, interior defensive linemen and DBs. They are dropping like flies.
If you think this week was bad, next Sunday could be worse. Shockingly the Ravens are currently listed as 6 ½ point favorites against the well-rested Titans.
THE MO GABA
Sorry, not a single Raven is worthy of Mo’s namesake this week…