It wasn’t always pretty, but the Patriots have proved that this year is different than last year. In a stark contrast to last season, the Patriots have a had a big win on the road and now were able to come back from behind against a good team to pull out a victory. Down 10-7 at the half and then 20-10 in the 4th quarter, the Patriots rallied to tie the game 20-20 and force overtime. The Raven offense had two chances in OT to win but each time the defense was able to put an end to the Ravens’ drive. Finally, on their second possession of OT, the Patriots were able to get into Stephen Gostkowski’s range for a game-winning field goal, winning 23-20. It was another team effort to pull out the win. The offense was able to come back and put up enough points to win. After an up-and-down game, the defense was able to rally and stop the Ravens on their last five drives of the game. Special teams, namely P Zoltan Mesko, were able to win the field position battle. Mesko’s 65-yard punt in OT to pin the Ravens back was a key play at a critical moment in the game.
QB Joe Flacco started the game hot, driving his team down the field getting 3 points to start the game. The Patriot defense was able to hold the Ravens’ running attack in check, allowing 99 yards on 34 attempts (2.9 ypc), but struggled against the pass throughout most of the game. Derrick Mason took advantage of the Patriot secondary, namely Devin McCourty, with outs and come-back routes, but the Pats eventually were able to adjust and stop those routes. It took them much of the game, but they finally pulled it together in the 4th quarter. Part of that equation was a personnel adjustment, as the Pats pulled a defensive lineman off the field in the sub packages and added a linebacker, sitting on Baltimore’s routes. It worked well enough to allow the Patriot offense enough possessions to come back and win.
Deion Branch had a great game in his first game back with the team. He had 9 catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. Danny Woodhead continued opening eyes with a tremendous performance, especially when you consider the caliber of defense he was playing against. Woodhead rushed for 63 yards on 11 attempts (5.7 ypc) and added 5 catches for 52 yards to that total. Many of his runs gave the Patriots first downs at critical times in the game. Altogether, the Pats rushed for 127 yards on 26 attempts (4.9 ypc) and a touchdown, which is pretty impressive against the Baltimore defense. Tom brady was 27/44 for 292 yards, a touchdown and 2 interceptions, though one of those INT’s were on a Hail Mary at the end of the first half. Brady’s stats would have been much better if not for some uncharacteristic drops, mainly by Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez, who had two big drops in OT. Despite the drops, Brady was able to orchestrate the 30th 4th-quarter comeback of his career.
The win puts the Patriots in the upper echelon of NFL teams. The Pats’ 4-1 record is among the best in the league and more impressive is that they were able to do it against a team of Baltimore’s caliber. After the game, Vince Wilfork called this “one of the biggest wins around here in a long time.” Bill Belichick added, “That was a good win for our football team. I’m really proud of those kids.” I have to agree. Despite its flaws, this team has a really special feeling around it, one that I haven’t felt about it in a long time. I’m not saying that it’s a Super feeling (yet), but it’s certainly one that bodes success this season. Next week doesn’t get any easier as the Patriots travel to San Diego to face the Chargers who are tough at home. But for right now, the team can enjoy this big win.