Time to grade the New England Patriots four main units after an excruciatingly close loss to the Baltimore Ravens last night.
Patriots Pass Offense: A
Nothing short of an “A” here for the New England Patriots passing attack, which was back to its high-powered self after a hiatus last week against the Arizona Cardinals. Tom Brady tossed 335 yards in total in a great game for the star QB, with 142 of those yards going to Wes Welker, who caught 80% of everything thrown at him in a typical Welker-like performance. It’s great to see him back, and the big numbers show that he has a high amount of importance to Brady and the team. With most teams unlikely to part with anything substantial for Welker, it means that his recent performance has put a heavy damper on the trade rumors.
Brandon Lloyd had a favorable matchup against RCB Cary Williams, and he more than did his job in tearing up his opponent. Lloyd finished with 108 receiving yards on nine catches to haul in 75% of everything thrown at him. Williams is notorious for giving too much space to opposing receivers, and he did just that against Lloyd. However, he also doesn’t get burned often which was also on display.
Rob Gronkowski was only targeted three times, while Kellen Winslow received just two targets in his debut with the Pats.
Patriots Run Offense: D+
It was just that kind of a day for the Patriots rushing offense, but even a collective average of 2.3 yards per carry won’t put them lower than this. It was a disappointing output for both Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead- somehow led the team with 15 carries- but the Ravens run defense isn’t exactly porous either. Even without Terrell Suggs, that front seven is still nasty with Albert McClellan being a breakout star at outside linebacker; he’s been absolutely dominant against the run so far this year. Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe put in big days for the Ravens as well, and the Pats line and running game just couldn’t get anything going.
Patriots Pass Defense D-
The replacement refs made some terrible pass interference calls that had a lot to do with the Pats struggles against the pass, with the majority of those calls coming against Devin McCourty. Still, there’s no excuse for giving up a 117.7 QB Rating to the opposition, and McCourty can only blame himself for not coming away with an interception- or two- in this game. Kyle Arrington was also exposed badly in coverage, and he also came away with a pick that should have been caught.
Both Steve Gregory and Patrick Chung showed why their struggles in deep coverage were highlighted before the game, as Torrey Smith absolutely lit up the Patriots pass defense to the tune of 127 yards and two touchdowns (what a game by him, MVP by some distance).
At the end of the day, these guys allowed 382 passing yards, three touchdowns, a 93.2 TQBR, and a whopping 9.8 yards per attempt to QB Joe Flacco. He’s better than people give him credit for, but those are numbers you don’t even want to give up to Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees.
Patriots Run Defense: C
There isn’t much to do here other than tip your cap off to Ray Rice, who had an absolutely phenomenal game against the Patriots vaunted run defense and further showed why he is one of the game’s most dangerous weapons. 101 rushing yards is a nice total even if you are facing the Carolina Panthers run defense, but that number goes from “good” to “extraordinary” when facing the type of run defense the Pats have. Add in 49 receiving yards on five receptions, and you have a strong case for player of the game.
However, the run defense really struggled against the Ravens offensive line, as they were creating holes almost at will and only allowed one tackle for loss and no QB hits.
I want to end off the post by wondering why Michael Oher wasn’t flagged for holding on nearly every play. The means by which he was trying to stop rookie defensive end Chandler Jones are questionable at best, and he clearly committed a holding penalty on multiple occasions. If you are wondering why the Pats didn’t get as much pressure on Flacco, then you have another opportunity to bash the replacement refs.
Follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe