Whether you were rooting for the Patriots, the Ravens or were an innocent bystander that was dragged into this bedlam, we can all agree on one thing: This game may have finally provided the ‘real’ referees—the ones who are sitting at home, probably drinking a stiff alcoholic beverage (I do not blame them)—with some real momentum in their prolonged standoff with the National Football League.
Time will tell.
From the opening quarter when over 5 skirmishes took place and no referee called an unsportsmenlike conduct, to Raven’s kicker Justin Tucker’s 27-yard game winning field goal, this game was simply absurd. (24 total penalties totaling 218 total yards.) Football fanatics may ask the following questions around the water cooler tomorrow:
- How does Patriot’s linebacker Jerod Mayo get a 2-3 yard pass interference call?
- How is Patriot’s receiver Julian Edelmen flagged for a questionable offensive pass interference down the left seam in the first half?
- How does Raven’s coach John Harbough called for an unsportsmanlike conduct when he wants simply to call a time out?
- Was Patriot's tight end Rob Gronkowski really holding on New England's 4th drive of the game, which eventually culminated in a Stephen Gostkowki 49 yard field goal?
- Why has the NFL not realized that when they changed the rule so that all scoring plays are reviewed, a field goal is also a scoring play, no matter if it's "difficult to see" or not. Therefore, the last field goal (in future games) needs to be reviewed
- How does....and the conversation continues
It seemed partly right (and very wrong) that the last seconds of the game would come down to, again, a questionable play. But, hey, at least something was consistent.
The world awaits the following: Patriot fans, #OccupyNFL commence in 3…2…1.
But anyways, with that rant over, let us also agree on something else: This is the type of hard hitting, adrenaline game that has a flare for the drama we long for every football weekend and, as fans, our wish was granted tonight. At least Monday morning won't be boring in the office.
Instant Game Analysis
New England began this game strong by scoring 10 unanswered points and playing more focused than in their loss last week to Arizona; they played up to the Ravens usual aggressive, strong play. It is no easy task to hold the stingy Ravens to only 17 total yards with 1 interception in the first quarter. Baltimore's first 3 possessions consisted of a punt, interception and another punt.
However, by the second half, Baltimore (and in many cases, questionable penalty calls) began to swing the momentum in their favor. During the Raven’s next 2 possessions, they used a heavy dose of star-running back and heavy lifter Ray Rice (20 car, 101 total yds, 1 td), receivers Torrey Smith (6 rec, 127 total yds, 2 tds) and Jacoby Jones (3 rec, 86 total yds) to score 2 key touchdowns.
Staring at a possible 14-13 deficit to end the half, New England put another touchdown on the board with a laser from Tom Brady to receiver Juilan Edlemen, who, also seeming to injure his hand on the drive, would leave and not return to the game. (Edlemen’s injury is yet another blow to an offense that loves diversity in their players and his condition is something to monitor going into next week’s showdown at Buffalo.)
The Ravens, deferring the kick to start the game, took full advantage to begin the third quarter and responded to New England’s previous score by driving 80 yards in 8 plays for a Ray Rice 7 yard touchdown run. The Ravens tested the Patriot’s run defense and, by the 2nd half, had begun to take control. By reestablishing a phase of the game the Patriots had and were looking to continue to shut down, the Ravens were able to restablish their passing attack.
Almost immediately after the Raven’s scored to take the lead 21-20, the Patriots quickly capatlized with a 12 play, 78-yard touchdown drive of their own, culminating with a 3 yard Danny Woodhead end zone plunge. Score 27-21 Patriots. On the drive, New England had found their own favorable match up by attacking Raven’s cornerback Carey Williams while he was attempting to blanket receivers Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker. He had his problems in coverage.
In all, let us face it. It might have been the streaker on the field or the crowd chanting obscenities in unison that had you thinking this game would not end quietly, or maybe the way we wanted. And it didn't. Facing a 9-point deficit with less than 7 minutes to go, Joe Flacco threw yet another touchdown pass (5 yards) to receiver Torrey Smith to put the Ravens within 2 points. He would later drive down the field on a final 8 play, 70 yard drive to help set up new kicker Justin Tucker for 27-yard game winning field goal. Ravens 31. Patriots 30.
New England battled and one can argue they, like last week, had their chances to squeak out a victory. Last season, a close win seemed all, but certain. Thus far this year, their fortunes have not been as favorable. Today New England’s offense had the ability to close out Baltimore with less than 3 minutes remaining in the game and failed. New England’s defense also had opportunities to stop a final, surging Raven’s drive that left New England helpless with 2 worthless time outs with less than 40 seconds remaining. But, in general, New England couldn't and can never expect to win when the Raven's final drive consisted of long plays of 24 and 17 yards and a Devin McCourty pass interference for 27 yards, which set up the Ravens deep in their redzone.
Sitting at 1-2, the Patriots drag themselves to Buffalo next week. The season is young, but games and outcomes like we witnessed on Sunday night can make that season look old very quick.