After so much hype by the NFL and NBC, Sunday night’s game lived up to everything that was promised. But after 60 minutes of play, the Patriots are 1-2 and below .500 for the first time in nine years. It took Baltimore all 60 minutes to win the game, and a field goal as time expired that many Patriots players thought was no good to win. Here are five notables about the game that led the Patriots to their second loss in as many weeks:
1.) The Replacement Officials.
Bernard Pollard was right about the Refs when he was interviewed by the Sports Hub Toucher and Rich. These replacements don’t have control over the players. The 1st quarter was evidence as there were many arms and elbows being thrown around after plays between groups of players. The refs could do nothing to stop these extra circulars from happening. In the game the refs called 24 penalties, 12 of which resulted in 1st downs, totaling in 218 yards. It sounds whiny and immature to blame the game solely on the refs, so I can’t put all the blame there. But I can say that Roger Goodell needs to the right thing and get the actual refs back on the field immediately.
2.) Gronkowski was ineffective without Aaron Hernandez
Rob Gronkowski, the almighty Tight End was held to just 2 receptions in the game which resulted in just 21 yards. A big part to Gronkowski’s ineffectiveness can be pinned on the absence of Tight End Aaron Hernandez. Without Hernandez, the Ravens were able to focus just on Gronk, and were able to hold him to just 2 receptions. Kellen Winslow who was signed this week by New England to fill the void Hernandez left, had just 1 catch for 12 yards and he dropped another pass that was intended for him in the first half.
3.) Ridley Is NOT the Dominant Running Back he Appeared to be in Week 1
After a week 1 win in which Stevan Ridley ran for 125 yards on 21 carries and scored 1 touchdown, he’s been irrelevant. Last week against the Cardinals he ran for 71 yards on 18 carries. Against the Ravens he only ran for 37 yards on 13 carries with his longest rush being just 14 yards. Danny Woodhead seemed more reliable in the game with 34 yards on 15 carries. Ridley lost yards multiple times in the game, and he makes Patriots fan miss the reliability of the Law Firm, Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis.
4.) Edelman Injury in the 2nd quarter
In the first half Julian Edleman was tearing it up! He was playing with as much passion as you can ever ask a player to have. He had 4 catches for 28 yards, and should have had a big reception in the 2nd quarter, but it was called back after a questionable call by the officials. At the end of the 1st half Edelman left the game with a hand injury and didn’t return.
5.) McCourty Drops an Interception
Early in the 4th quarter, Devin McCourty had a chance to intercept a Joe Flacco pass intended for Torrey Smith. McCourty had the ball in his hands but then dropped it. Had McCourty held on, the Patriots would have taken over control in decent field position. Instead on the next play, Flacco connected with Anquan Boldin for 24 yards. Patriots defense did stop the Ravens, and in field goal range, the Ravens attempted to convert on 4th and 1. They failed conversion, and didn’t score, but had McCourty held on to the interception it could have led to a more points from the Patriots offense.
The Patriots will now get ready to play the Bills in Buffalo next Sunday. Next week will be no easy game for the Pats as Buffalo is coming off a 24-14 victory over the Cleveland Browns and have a 2-1 record. Also expect the NFL to hand a hefty fine to Bill Belichick this week for touching an official after the game to try and get an explanation of the field goal that won the game for the Ravens at the end of regulation.