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New England Patriots Week 3: What We Learned

The New England Patriots lost 31-30 to the Baltimore Ravens on a last second field goal from Justin Tucker that barely made it. The Pats had their fair share of opportunities in this game, and it was one of those games against an elite opponent that ends up a loss despite the strong play from the Pats.

1. Happy for Torrey Smith

This isn’t something we learned, but it’s something that I feel after this game, and it’s something that surpasses any other emotion I am feeling at this point. I feel happy for Torrey Smith for showing what he can do on the football field and for playing and being the difference in this game despite the death of his younger brother. I have no idea how Smith is able to cope with this tragedy, and I feel both terrible and happy for him at the same time. I have no idea how those two feelings can co-exist, but they do now.

Smith went off against the Patriots with six catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns. It exemplifies what the second-year receiver does for the Ravens, and that is making big plays and stretching the field vertically. Without Smith, the Ravens don’t win this game; it’s as simple as that. You could also say that for Joe Flacco, but I don’t think anybody had as big of an impact in this game as Smith.

One thing we did learn that pertains to Smith is that he deserves a bigger role with the Ravens offense. He was inconsistent last year, but what big-play, rookie receiver isn’t? If you say A.J. Green, then you better explain all the penalties- among other things- that he committed last season.

In any case, Smith’s big performance shows that he deserves to be utilized as Baltimore’s primary deep threat as the season wears on. What a performance.

2. We need real refs

Let me begin by saying that Tucker’s field goal was indeed good. It was extremely close, but I think people enraged about the legitimacy about that kick need to calm down.

That doesn’t stop the replacement refs from being terrible, because there were atrocious calls made on both sides. Four years from now, I will probably still remember that defensive holding call on Brandon Spikes and shake my head in disgust. What were they thinking? There were several other bogus calls as well, and it amounted to over 200 penalty yards in total. I want to watch football, not the refs make fancy hand signals every time a player sneezes, only to miss calls that cause part of a star quarterback’s earlobe to fall off (different game, I know).

Bad calls on both sides, and I’m sure that fans of all 32 teams will agree that the refs on the field need to be the best available in order to match the quality of play from the players and coaches, as well as the fans. We all deserve better.

3. Ray Rice is insane

The New England Patriots have one of the best run defenses in the league, but that didn’t stop Ray Rice from blowing the Pats apart with 101 rushing yards and five catches for 49 yards to show off his dual-threat ability. Rice is one of the best backs in the league, and he showed his ability to get yards in various ways against the Pats. I was thoroughly impressed with the job he did, and sometimes you just have to tip your cap off to the guy on the other team. Actually, you have to do that quite often.

4. Welk

That’s simply all I need to put there, and I bet Wes Welker’s eight catches and 142 yards in this one dampen the trade rumors that have been swirling around. With Aaron Hernandez out and Welker producing at this high of a rate, I doubt the Pats will deal him unless if a team is willing to overpay. That’s not going to happen for a veteran receiver on a franchise tender, so it looks like Welk is going to be staying. I’m happy, and I bet every Pats fan is happy. I mean, who would want to see Wes go?

Some have speculated that Josh McDaniels was playing Julian Edelman more often to test whether or not the Pats can play better with Welker. Despite his recent drops, there has never been a doubt as to who is better and this game highlights Welker’s impact for this team. Whenever he is on the field, Tom Brady is going to be looking for him.

5. The Pats really like Danny Woodhead

It was kind of weird looking at the box score this morning and realizing that the Patriots handed it off to Danny Woodhead a whopping 15 times. It’s difficult to tell whether or not he received more carries than Stevan Ridley when being focused on the game, but he did receive two more carries than Ridley (13). Neither back fared out well against the Ravens defense, but Woodhead was worse and averaged 2.3 yards per carry compared to 2.8 from Ridley. I don’t know why the Pats gave it to him 15 times, but I doubt he leads the Pats in carries again.

But here’s the thing about the running game, it bothered me when people said “Yeah, the Ravens defense is no good without Terrell Suggs”. Bull. No way to sugarcoat my thoughts on that statement. Suggs is one of the best players in the league, but the Ravnes defense is still one of the best in the game. Albert McClellan has effectively replaced Suggs against the run- but definitely not as a pass rusher- and the Ravens front seven is still one of the best run-stopping units in the league.

Follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe

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Tags: Baltimore Ravens New England Patriots

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