By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Suddenly, the Patriots look like they could go on a run after securing a massive 23-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night. Here are the ups & downs (mostly ups) from easily the Pats’ best win of the season.
WR/QB Jakobi Meyers. Gotta put “QB” there, because Meyers made the play of the night with his double-pass dime to Rex Burkhead, which gave the Patriots the lead that they never looked back from. Meyers also led the Patriots (again) with five catches and 59 yards and played every snap as he continued to entrench himself as the Patriots. No. 1 wideout.
RBs Rex Burkhead and Damien Harris. Harris led the way on the ground with 22 carries for 131 yards, a career-best for the sophomore back out of Alabama. Burkhead, meanwhile, had 10 touches for 66 yards and two touchdowns as the Patriots’ best dual threat at the RB position.
LG Joe Thuney. The entire offensive line deserves credit, but Thuney will get the nod for leading an incredible combo block with Isaiah Wynn that sprung Harris for a 16-yard run and jump-started an explosive touchdown drive for the Patriots. The run game was excellent and the blocking up front was a major part of that.
CB J.C. Jackson. The cornerback made an interception for the fifth straight game, a new Patriots franchise record. And it came at an opportune time, keeping the Ravens off the scoreboard when they had a chance to score at the end of the first half.
S Kyle Dugger. The rookie led the team with 12 tackles, the biggest of which came on the second-to-last play of the game. Dugger’s shoestring tackle on Mark Ingram kept the back in bounds and forced the Ravens to scramble for a last-second play. A big step forward for the rookie.
LB Chase Winovich. Think Winovich enjoyed this gameplan? Per Jeff Howe, he finished with a QB hit, 10 pressures, a run stuff, and a drawn holding penalty. Quite an active game in one where they certainly needed the front-seven to make plays to contain Lamar Jackson, and Winovich came through.
Ball security. Ultimately, taking care of the football is what won the Patriots this game and gave them the advantage over the Ravens, especially in the second half. No turnovers or botched snaps for the offense. Meanwhile, Ravens center Matt Skura had a bad night and botched a snap on what would turn out to be the Ravens’ final possession. In extreme weather conditions, sometimes the game comes down to simple ball security, and this game could serve as an example.
K Nick Folk. Hard to really blame him for being unable to play a perfect game in such torrential conditions, but Folk’s missed extra point in the first half loomed large at the end of the game when the Patriots were clinging to a six-point lead. Thankfully, the game never came down to that point.
WR N’Keal Harry. An uninspiring return for the Patriots wideout, who played 35 snaps but didn’t get a single target. He made a good block on Cam Newton’s touchdown pass to Rex Burkhead, but Harry needs to be more than just a blocker. If he can start making big plays alongside Jakobi Meyers, the offense would be in much better shape. They need him to do more as a pass-catcher.
Fourth-quarter offense. It was a good night overall for the unit, especially considering they never beat themselves. But they sputtered in the fourth quarter with multiple opportunities to put the game out of reach. The Pats did a better job closing the game than the Ravens did, but the offense could have been better down the stretch.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff or send him a nasty email at email@example.com.