The Baltimore Ravens comeback attempt fell short on Monday Night Football against the New England Patriots as they fell 30-23 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. The Ravens entered the game sporting the league’s number one defense in multiple categories, but the Patriots, and quarterback Tom Brady in particular, gouged the unit.
Brady completed 25 of his 38 pass attempts for 404 yards to go with three touchdowns and one interception including the game-winning touchdown to Chris Hogan on which no Ravens defender was within 10 yards of the receiver. Pats running back LeGarrette Blount added a touchdown, the first rushing touchdown the unit has given up since Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger scored with 48 seconds left in the fourth quarter of the Ravens Week 9 victory. Overall, it was a rough night for a defense that has been outstanding for much of the year.
“The defense was very disappointed that they played this poorly” said Ravens radio analyst Stan White on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence show following Monday night’s game. “They were the number one ranked defense in the league, and they thought they were going to play a lot better than they did. I think losing Jimmy Smith really hurt them because, even though the other corner played well, it’s sort of mental at that point when you lose your lockdown corner. It takes a little bit out of you and really what got them back in the game were the two muffs that the Patriots had on special teams. That sort of made the score a little closer than the game really was.”
It wasn’t just the defense that had a tough time against the Patriots. The offense mustered just three points through the seven minute mark in the third quarter when the first of two Patriots muffed punts gave them great field position to be able to get on the board. Inconsistency on the offensive side of the ball has been a problem all season for the Ravens as evidenced by the firing of their offensive coordinator, Marc Trestman, earlier this season who was then replaced by Marty Morninwheg. Monday’s performance excluded, the offense has been better under Morninwheg, averaging a little over 23 points per game as opposed to the 18.8 they were averaging under Trestman.
With the loss, the Ravens find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture looking in at the moment. However, they sit just one game behind Pittsburgh for the division and they own the tiebreaker over the Steelers by virtue of their head-to-head win against Pittsburgh in Week 9. With three games left, including one against the Steelers on Christmas Day, the Ravens are still in good position to make the playoffs.
“The good thing is, they still have everything completely within their own control,” said White. “Somebody else doesn’t have to lose for them. If they win the last three games, they’re in the playoffs. I guess, in this league, if you can get to the last three games and can say that, you’re pretty happy. So, now it’s up to them to beat Philadelphia and then they have to go into Pittsburgh on Christmas and ruin the people’s Christmas in Pittsburgh to have that last game against Cincinnati count. So, it’s going to be an interesting end to the season, but it’s going to be exciting too.”
The Ravens return home to M&T Bank Stadium this Sunday for a match-up with the Philadelphia Eagles with kick-off scheduled for 1 p.m. ET on FOX.