• It was as simple as Lamar Jackson making too many plays.

    The New England Patriots’ 37-26 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday was, essentially, the result of one quarterback making more positive plays than the other. Where Mac Jones finished with one touchdown, which was on the ground, and three interceptions, Jackson threw four touchdowns and ran for a fifth while throwing just one pick.

    Jackson especially caught fire at the end of the second quarter through the third, when the Ravens went on three consecutive touchdown drives after his interception. This was the sequence that Baltimore seized control of the game, and they did it through a mix of runs and passes, and plays both big and small.

    “All three of those drives, they had explosive plays, running the ball and passing the ball,” Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon said after the game. “We’ve got to stop that. We’ve got to play better defense and execute better. We’ll watch it on film, but I know that’s the big thing, the explosive plays.”

    A second look at the game tape reveals a Ravens offense that really got things going on the ground, whether it was Jackson himself or the backs carrying the ball. At the same time, Jackson showed off his improved pocket passing, burning the Pats for a handful of key plays through the air.

    Sep 25, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) passes the ball the ball during the first half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Sep 25, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) passes the ball during the first half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Here’s a breakdown of the Ravens’ three consecutive touchdown drives and what they did to get those explosive plays…

  • Mark Andrews Touchdown, Second Quarter

    The Patriots had just taken their first lead of the game at 10-7. This is where RPOs and the run game really started to click for the Ravens. They consistently ran at the C gap (outside the tackles), where the Patriots lined up various players at defensive end, specifically the 5-technique (DE in a 3-4 alignment).

    Jackson sparked this drive with a 17-yard pickup on second-and-14, on an RPO that he kept. He was able to get Judon and Mack Wilson to bite on the handoff, while tackles Daniel Faalele and Moses Morgan got to the second level to take care of Ja’Whaun Bentley and Adrian Phillips. Deatrich Wise can’t contain Jackson off the edge, and all these factors combine to give Jackson room for the chunk run.

    Patriots head coach Bill Belichick sounded unsurprised by the Ravens’ play-calling in these situations.

    “I don’t think there were any new plays. They ran their C gap plays,” Belichick said after the game. “Lamar did a good job on keeping some of those, not keeping those, the option choices that he made. We lost leverage, missed a couple of tackles there, so… Combination of all those things.”

  • Running back Justice Hill also carved out an 11-yard run at the C gap later in the same drive, with Davon Godchaux lined up at defensive end and blocked on the play. Judon was lined up next to Godchaux, but Ravens right guard Kevin Zeitler pulled left to seal him off, giving Hill a nice lane.

    On the very next play, Jackson beat the Pats with his arm. He’s pressured up the middle by Lawrence Guy and has to backpedal, but Wilson also breaks off from tight end Josh Oliver to try and get to him. This leaves Oliver open for Jackson to find him with a slick sidearm throw. A potential loss of yards is turned into a seven-yard gain.

    Next snap? Another RPO and a QB keeper, and a C gap run. This time they target the right side, where Guy was lined up at the 5-tech. Guy can’t beat his blockers and Jackson has a crease. Eleven yards.

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens runs the ball during the second half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens runs the ball during the second half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    The Andrews touchdown is really a tip-your-cap kind of play. Jackson faced a blitz up the middle from Wilson, but he’s able to get an off-balance throw off, and it’s just high enough for Andrews to go up and get the ball. Andrews made a ridiculous play to snatch the pass away from Devin McCourty, who was between him and the ball in coverage.

    “Yeah, again, it goes back to the red area,” McCourty said after the game. “When you play an explosive offense, you want to try to force them to drive the field. You got to show up in the red area when they do do that. Like I said, they’re going to make some plays, and they did that.

    “Give up 37 points, it’s going to be tough to win in this league.”

  • Josh Oliver Touchdown, Third Quarter

    This was the Patriots’ best opportunity to get off the field in the midst of the Ravens’ offensive hot streak. But facing a third-and-5, Jackson dropped back and got just enough protection to fire a strike over the middle to Devin Duvernay, who got separation on Jalen Mills after faking to the outside.

    The Pats rushed only three guys on this play – Christian Barmore, Josh Uche, and Daniel Ekuale – and none of them can come up with a play to beat their blockers. A huge play in the game, especially considering the Pats held a 20-14 lead at the time.

    The biggest play of this drive, however, was a 34-yard run by Hill that set up a first-and-goal. Once again, they targeted the C gap, this time with Barmore lined up at defensive end. Barmore was basically triple-teamed on the play, pushed back by Moses and Oliver then by pulling left guard Ben Powers. Judon was lined up over the tight end and got through unblocked, but fullback Patrick Ricard picked him up. Andrews takes care of Jabrill Peppers off the ball, and Hill has a gaping hole to attack.

    The Oliver touchdown once again highlighted the Pats’ defensive struggles in the red zone. In a similar play to Jackson’s touchdown pass to tight end Nick Boyle in the Ravens’ 2019 win over the Pats, the Ravens showed run with Oliver lined up next to the right tackle. Oliver then released upfield and crossed left, and nobody was able to pick him up before the pass.

    Linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley vacated the area, while Wilson and Peppers couldn’t react to Oliver’s route quickly enough. Jackson times his throw perfectly and it’s a fairly easy touchdown.

  • Devin Duvernay Touchdown, Third Quarter

    Baltimore needed just four plays to find the end zone this time, thanks to two massive plays: a 43-yard punt return by Duvernay, and a 38-yard run by Jackson.

    The latter was once again an RPO and a Jackson keeper that targeted the C gap. This time, Godchaux was lined up at the 5-tech and got locked up on a double-team by Powers and Faalele. Wise lost contain on the fake handoff. Wilson had a chance to clog the lane, but Ricard got to the second level and boxed him out. Against Jackson, that opening might as well be the Grand Canyon.

  • Three plays later, Jackson faced pressure from Judon to the right, but was just able to get the throw off and give Duvernay a chance 1-on-1. He was against Myles Bryant, which was a mismatch, so he made the play. Touchdown, eight-point lead.

    The Patriots adjusted well after that. On the next Ravens drive, linebacker Jahlani Tavai set the edge with Phillips in the box closing up the C gap to keep the first run to just four yards. Daniel Ekuale lined up at the 5-technique on the next play, and was able to shed his blocker and drop Hill for just a one-yard gain. Jackson’s third-down deep ball can’t connect with receiver Rashod Bateman, and so the Ravens had to settle for a Justin Tucker field goal.

  • But the damage was done at that point. The Ravens went up 31-20 and that margin of victory held in the end.

    “We kept sacking him, kept sacking him, then they slowed it down with play-action and quarterback runs, then they came out in the second half and did the same thing,” Godchaux said after the game. “We kind of adjusted to it a little bit too late, and they took advantage of it and got some scores. We had our opportunities. We didn’t take advantage of them.”

    Considering the Patriots were able to make a few sound adjustments to slow down the Ravens offense after the three-touchdown burst, it’s fair to wonder if there’s enough coaching on the sidelines to recognize the problems and fix them on the fly. If Bill Belichick didn’t have to focus so much on the offense due to the relative inexperience of his assistants on that side of the ball, maybe he would’ve called for the adjustments on defense a little sooner.

    Ultimately, the Ravens won with superior play-calling and quarterback play. It’ll be hard for the Pats to win any game when they take an L at both coach and QB.

    We’ll continue to cover the fallout from Patriots-Ravens, and look ahead to Week 4 against the Packers. Click here for complete New England Patriots coverage here at 985TheSportsHub.com.

  • Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster 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 and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.

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