By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
In the end, the Patriots’ upset win over the Ravens came in large part due to simple ball security. The Pats dominated in that area.
For the second straight week, Cam Newton and the Patriots offense didn’t turn the ball over en route to a 23-17 win over road favorite Baltimore. They’ve won the turnover battle in all four wins this season. The Ravens, meanwhile, turned it over twice – once on a Lamar Jackson interception that killed Baltimore’s chances of points at the end of the first half.
The Ravens’ other turnover came on downs, and exemplified why weather can be the great equalizer. In driving rain and heavy winds, talent tends to fly out the window. Discipline can take over in conditions like what we saw Sunday night, and clearly, the Patriots were the more prepared and disciplined team. There’s no better example than the Ravens’ attempt to go for it on fourth-and-1 out of the wildcat, which resulted in a botched snap, one of several on the night for Matt Skura. It also resulted in arguably the biggest mistake of the game, a rolling snap that torpedoed a crucial fourth-quarter drive.
Baltimore’s poor handling of the wet ball doomed them in the end. And it drew some serious salt out of John Harbaugh.
“Well, I mean, I don’t know if you guys – I guess you guys weren’t here, but why [bad snapping] was happening was the balls were wet and rain was coming down really hard,” Harbaugh said. “That’s not an excuse. I mean, they still have to make the snaps. They made their snaps. I think that’s the main reason.”
Not an excuse, but Harbaugh basically made the excuse. Contrast that with Bill Belichick, whose team had a few off snaps here and there but avoided the killer mistakes.
“It wasn’t bad at the beginning and then just a little precipitation, a little rain there at the end,” Belichick said. “But, again, we practice in that during the course of the year and handle the wet ball and all that, so whatever we get, we get.”
It wasn’t just the snaps or the turnovers. The Patriots also had just three penalties for 18 yards, compared to eight penalties for 64 yards for the Ravens. Punter Jake Bailey and punt returner Gunner Olszewski earned high marks from Belichick for handling the ball well despite the weather.
The game was a tale of two coaches, both on and off the field. Harbaugh is no buffoon, but he clearly didn’t prepare his team for the conditions as well as Belichick did. And their postgame remarks reflected the coaching difference, too.
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.