Last night’s game was one of the most difficult Patriots games I’ve had to watch in quite some time. It wasn’t the Patriots play that was the problem, it was the constant flag throwing and penalty calling. On Sunday Night Football it became clear that the replacement referees are in over their heads and Roger Goodell needs to speed up negotiations with the actual referees. For the sake of the game and the safety of the players, something needs to be done and soon.
The Patriots took some bad calls from the refs Sunday night but that doesn’t mean they were flawless. The Baltimore Ravens were able to expose the defense and put a serious block on the run game. They held the Patriots to just 77 yards rushing with Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead picking up only 37 and 34 yards respectively. In Week 3 the Ravens showed the rest of the league that a stout defense can clog up what was an impressive streak of run plays by the Patriots.
Brady and the Patriots fought hard but came up short Sunday night. (FILE:USPresswire)
The positive side of that is the Patriots were able to adjust and make some big plays in the air. Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker both had big games and it was encouraging to see that Tom Brady has finally gotten in sync with his receivers. Welker had eight catches for 142 yards and Lloyd had nine for 108 yards. Josh McDaniels seemed to do a better job with the play calling this week which wasn’t easy with the speed and size of the Baltimore defense. The offensive line stepped up their game in response making some big holes and protecting Brady a lot better than last week. They seem to be on the right track, progressing in each game.
The Patriots defense on the other hand struggled to get to Joe Flacco. Chandler Jones and Michael Oher fought hard and Oher did a good job of keeping Jones in check. The linebackers were unable to collapse the pocket and Flacco stood tall all night. He proved he is a better quarterback than we all give him credit for. He was 28 for 39 with 382 yards and three touchdowns. They executed the run game and the Patriots were unable to take Ray Rice out of the game. He carried the ball 20 times for 101 yards and completely changed the pace of the game. Once the Ravens hit the ground running, the game shifted and momentum was on their side. The Patriots defense showed this week that they are not invincible. They still have some work to do and the secondary still needs to elevate the level of their game.
Moving forward to next week the Patriots are going to have to work more on their offense than defense. The defense will rebound and should not have a problem with the Buffalo Bills as long as the secondary can keep Steve Johnson in check and the line can stop C.J. Spiller. Offensively Brady and McDaniels need to find a way to incorporate Rob Gronkowski as well as the other receivers. He is a big target that should be utilized. For the first time since 2003 the Patriots are under .500 and that should be motivation enough to have a good week of practice and get their focus and hunger back for next Sunday.