The Patriots and Ravens battled it out in a classic back-and-forth affair on Sunday afternoon that was reminiscent of some of their all-time classic games. The contest featured four lead changes through three quarters as the two AFC foes went blow-for-blow early on.
However, it would be the Ravens who pulled away in the second half, capitalizing on New England's second-half mistakes and making the key plays with the game on the line, as Baltimore downed them 37-26, sending New England to 1-2 on the season.
The Patriots competed hard throughout, making a late comeback push, but came up just a handful of plays short as they continue to search for the kind of clean and consistent game needed to beat the better teams in the league.
Here are the key takeaways from a Patriots perspective!
Big play Parker
DeVante Parker was one of the Patriots biggest threats in practice this summer, as he put on an early clinic with his contested catch ability. Many were wondering where Parker was through two games after being involved in two turnover plays, but the former first-rounder made his presence felt out of the gate like it was an early OTA practice, hauling in catches of 31 and 40 yards on the Patriots first two offensive possessions.
Those kinds of big plays were just what the Patriots needed to get going, however, both drives were short-circuited by two penalties by Isaiah Wynn, an illegal formation call and then a holding call. The offense could not overcome the loss of yardage, as they were forced to punt on the opening drive and then had to settle for a field goal on the second, despite making it down to Baltimore's 16-yard-line.
Parker would add a 36-yard reception on New England's opening drive of the third quarter to get the offense into Ravens territory, while the catch put him over 100 yards for the game. Three plays later he'd tack on another toe-tapping 25-yarder that put the offense at the two-yard line before Damien Harris took it in for a touchdown.
A week after Nelson Agholor broke 100 receiving yards, it was Parker's turn to break out.
Pass rush comes early for Lamar
The Patriots pass rush took advantage of mounting injuries along the Ravens offensive line by getting after Lamar Jackson early and often in the contest. Matthew Judon (one sack) and Deatrich Wise (three sacks) led the way, as they were consistently in the backfield and forcing Lamar into tough decisions from the get-go, getting bookended three-and-outs on two of the first three Ravens possessions.
Of course, the Ravens quarterback made his fair share of plays even with pressure in his face as he was still able to make things happen for his offense. Baltimore strung together an 11-play, 69-yard touchdown-scoring drive on the second possession with a variety of clever play designs while leaning on tight end Mark Andrews.
Even when the Patriots weren't disrupting Jackson, they were containing him in the pocket and forcing him to go through his pass reads. The results were uneven in the first half, with Jonathan Jones coming up with a half-changing interception after a bad throw by Jackson from the pocket. New England took a 10-7 lead off of the turnover.
Back-and-forth before the half
After forcing two three-and-outs and an interception in the first half, the Patriots allowed a long scoring drive just before halftime that gave the Ravens back a 14-10 lead. It was a nine-play, 75-yard drive and Baltimore never faced a third down as they took advantage of the situational possession.
Jackson accounted for 28 yards on the ground, as the Patriots struggled to bring the speedy quarterback down to the ground. Even after a solid start to the game keeping Jackson contained, he showed just how dangerous he is on every snap.
But the Patriots offense did their part when it came to situational football, getting the ball back with just 30 seconds left, countering with a five-play, 43-yard field goal scoring drive to make it a one-point game at the half. Kendrick Bourne came up with the critical last two catches, totaling 32 yards to set up the field goal attempt. Nick Folk nailed the 50-yard field goal to cap a solid first 30 minutes of game time.
New England carried over the momentum into the third quarter, posting a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown-scoring drive to open the second half that gave them back the lead, 20-14.
Ravens get running
After New England took a 20-14 lead, the Ravens countered with their own seven-play, 75-yard drive to retake lead as the seesawing on the scoreboard continued into the third quarter. Baltimore's success on the ground played a big part, as again the Ravens saw just one third down that was easily converted with Jackson getting time in the pocket to find Devin Duvernay for a 21-yard gain. Two plays later Justice Hill ripped off a 34-yard run to get Baltimore deep into New England territory.
The Pats missed Lawrence Guy on the drive, as he was lost early on to a shoulder injury during the possession.
After forcing a New England three-and-out, Baltimore would put the hammer down, starting with a 43-yard punt return that set them up in Patriots territory. Then, on first down, Jackson picked up 38 yards on the ground and two plays later they'd score again as the Ravens pulled ahead, 28-20. Following a Mac Jones interception, the Ravens would tack on a 56-yard field goal to make it 31-20.
Mistakes crush comeback hopes
After falling into an 11-point hole midway through the second half, the Patriots could've packed things in but they instead fought back and turned things around. First came a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to get them back into the game. Of course, it included another big play to Parker, before it was finished off by Rhamondre Stevenson for a touchdown that closed the score to 31-26 Ravens following a failed two-point attempt.
On the Ravens' ensuing possession, Jonathan Jones came through with his second big play of the game, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Jabrill Peppers. Mac Jones would lead the Pats again inside the red zone but couldn't wrestle the lead back, throwing his second interception of the day and giving the ball back to the Ravens.
Even after another Patriots defensive stop, the offense gave the ball back to Baltimore with their third turnover of the game, a fumble by Nelson Agholor coming on the tail end of a 30-yard catch-and-run. Baltimore closed things out with another score after that.
Three second-half turnovers were critical, game-deciding errors.
Patriots are 1-2
The Patriots went toe-to-toe with the Ravens early in the game, flashing big plays on offense and big stops on defense but ultimately, the Ravens were able to pull away with a handful more big plays and some egregious Patriots mistakes. New England fought down to the wire, but just didn't have enough to overcome both Lamar Jackson and their own giveaways.
Most promising were the explosive downfield passes which coincided with a breakout game for DeVante Parker. Mac Jones put together his best game of the season in many regards, but his second-half turnovers were killers with the Patriots needing to mount a comeback. But Mac also left the game limping off the field with what appeared to be an injury, adding more complications coming out of the defeat.
New England showed some strides in this one, but they weren't enough to knock off the Ravens. The bottom line was they just didn't have enough consistent answers to stop Jackson and couldn't put their best football together in the game's most critical moments. They'll need to quickly regroup before heading on the road to face the Packers in Green Bay next Sunday at 4:25pm EST.