With the playoffs right around the corner, getting yesterday’s win in Baltimore was huge for the New England Patriots. Not only are they keeping pace with the Denver Broncos for the top seed in the AFC, but they are also holding off the Bengals for the two seed, and the all important first round bye.
The Pats impressed me in a lot of areas in yesterday’s game, but the way they ran the ball, and the way the defense took it to the Ravens really stood out, and that is why they rolled to a 41-7 win.
It is no secret that the Baltimore Ravens forte, is their physical defense. Even though the cast has changed, they still want to knock the opposition’s head off, especially when that opposition is a team like the Patriots, who like to spread you out, and throw the football. But the Pats pulled the rug out on the Ravens on Sunday, and they were the more physical team, both on the offensive side of the ball, and the defensive side of the ball. Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount pounded the rock all game long, wearing out the Baltimore defense, and ultimately winning this game. The Patriots makeshift offensive line dominated what is widely considered to be one of the best defensive fronts in the league, and hopefully with Nate Solder returning shortly, they will continue this dominance on the ground, as we move towards the playoffs.
Much like the offense, the Pats defense was not expected to play very well against this Ravens offense. But one of the most decimated units in the league rose to the occasion, and while they lost their best remaining defensive player in the process (McCourty), this group put forth an incredible performance. Joe Flacco’s final passer rating was a whopping 56.9, largely because of the job the New England front seven did in pressuring him throughout the contest. He went down four times, completed only 58% of his passes, and was picked off twice. The Patriots secondary didn’t play as well as the front seven did, but they played well enough, and more importantly, they were opportunistic. This is something that has been missing from the Pats defense over the last couple of games, and it was nice to see the turnovers make a return to the stat sheet.
The battle of the run offense and run defense between the Ravens and the Pats was a big story-line heading into this game, and the 31st ranked run defense of the Pats won out. Taking out the three late scrambles by backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor, the Ravens ran for 82 yards on 25 carries (a 3.28 average). Ray Rice was once again ineffective, and I think this lack of a running game really helped the New England defensive front have success in rushing the passer. The insertion of Sealver Siliga into the middle has done wonders for this run defense, as over the last couple of games, they have absolutely shut down the opposing running backs. Granted, the teams they have played haven’t exactly had the most powerful running games, but it has been nice to see the middle of the Patriot defense hold up on the ground.
A Few Leftover Notes From The Game:
Mankins was terrific, holding his own all game long at left tackle, even when going up against top pass rushers like Terrell Suggs.
Logan Ryan is starting to emerge as a top cornerback on the team, adding two more interceptions to his resume. His ability to play man coverage on the outside is outstanding.
Alfonzo Dennard was active, but didn’t play much. In fact, his only playing time came when Kyle Arrington was injured in the second half, and even then Dennard was only in for a few plays.
Julian Edelman having a career season, and getting better and better as the weeks go on. He will be a key contributor in this years’ playoff run.
Pats were 3-3 in the red zone. Utilized the running game to negate the loss of Gronkowski, and Ridley and Blount answered the bell.
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