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Game Observations: Patriots get big win over Ravens

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The Patriots got their fourth win of the season with an outstanding team effort that helped them knock off the Baltimore Ravens and continue getting their season back on track. It was the best win of the Patriots 2020 season, and should give them renewed confidence in their continued development.

Despite the disparity in the two team's records coming in, it was a classic back-and-forth Patriots-Ravens game for much of the contest. New England again featured some hard running from Damien Harris (121 yards) and some key catches from Jakobi Meyers, as they continued to build on their recent offensive performances. Cam Newton looked comfortable in the pocket for much of the night and made some key plays with his legs, while he and Rex Burkhead (two touchdowns) helped New England get an impressive first-half lead.

The Patriots defense contained Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense for most of the night, but the Ravens still put together some long drives that featured some big plays. Two bad snaps by center Matt Skura loomed large as they short circuited two of Baltimore's drives.

Still, the Patriots did everything they had to to knock off one of the best teams in the conference. It wasn't anything new or fancy, just hard-nosed football in a monsoon, led by the running game and a quarterback who, for a second week in a row, didn't make any game-changing mistakes and did all the right things. With the game on the line, the Patriots were able to close things out and get their first win streak of the 2020 season going.

Here's how it all went down in what was an exciting victory!

- After winning the opening toss and deferring to the second half, the Patriots defense had a good first showing against the Ravens, going to three down lineman with Carl Davis at the nose and Lawrence Guy and Byron Cowart on the ends. The rest of the second level was mostly off the ball, with Kyle Dugger and Adrian Phillips playing off the edges, giving the Pats the kind of speed they lacked last year against Baltimore. Aside from a late throw-and-catch to Mark Ingram that picked up 17 yards on their very first play, the Pats held the Ravens in check, forcing the punt with good third down coverage up the sideline by Jason McCourty. Getting a stop on the first possession was important.

- The Patriots offense opened the game with a heavy dose of Damien Harris, they handed it off to him on the first five-straight plays. Harris, who was on the injury report with two injuries all week, showed the same hard running style we've come to expect and it was effective, leading them past midfield. Newton would convert a 4th-and-1 with a QB sneak to keep the drive going as the offense showed better pace than they've had for much of the year. But the drive would stall out though, with Newton taking a sack on third-and-long as the passing game sputtered. It was an 11-play, 29-yard drive with Harris' two seven-yard runs being the longest plays of the drive.

- The Ravens offense would find their stride on their second offensive possession, sparked in part by targeting the middle seam, with two plays picking up 13 and 21 yards to get them inside the Patriots red zone. Jackson would also have passing plays of 19 and 21 yards as Baltimore picked up some chunk yardage through the air as well. New England would almost get a third-down stop close to their end zone, with Terez Hall just missing a tackle in the backfield on Gus Edwards that allowed him to squirt through for the first down as the first quarter came to an end. The Patriots defense came out playing pretty well, holding the Ravens scoreless in the first frame, a big key to keeping the game manageable.

- Baltimore would get on the board on the first play of the second quarter, with Willie Snead taking a shovel pass from Jackson around the right end for the score. It was a 13-play, 94-yard drive that ate up 8:04 of clock, while facing just two short-yardage third downs.

- New England would quickly respond, with Newton using play action on first down to find Jakobi Meyers for 19 yards, with an extra 15 yards tacked on for a penalty on Baltimore for lowering the helmet to initiate contact. Rex Burkhead would continue his third-down hot streak with a four-yard carry that picked up a new set of downs, before Newton would find Ryan Izzo for a 20-yard completion and the Burkhead would finish it off with a touchdown catch to tie the game. It was one of the Patriots best drives of the season, with two big passing plays and Newton's first passing touchdown since Week 2. After going down 7-0, the team showed some nice bounce back and fight.

- Baltimore would reel off another long drive after New England tied things up, this one going 11 plays, with a 31 catch-and-run up the sideline by Gus Edwards being the highlight play, and then they picked up another 15 yards by yet another lowering the helmet to initiate contact penalty on the ensuing play, this one on the Pats. But New England would hold in the red zone, getting off the field on third-and-six. New England did a pretty good job against the run, but the short third downs were all converted by the Ravens. The Pats got stops on 3rd-and-11 and 3rd-and-6 but gave up three conversions of three yards-or-less. It was the shorter dump-off passes that hurt the Pats in the first half, as they held up well against the run and defended the deep passes pretty well.

- The back-and-forth first half would continue as the Patriots once again looked to Damien Harris to spark things with his hard running and yards-after-contact. He had runs of 12 and 13 yards on the drive, while Jakobi Meyers came through with an important third-down conversion catch that just picked up enough yardage. The offensive line was really leading the way, opening up good holes for Harris, who still picked up yards even when there wasn't a gaping hole. When there was, he was getting double-digit yards. He had 63 yards on 12 carries in the first half, the Pats as a team had 85.

- Meyers would then finish the drive in dramatic fashion, taking a pass behind the line of scrimmage from Newton then throwing it to Burkhead in the end zone with a perfect 24-yard touchdown score. It was a beautifully thrown ball by the former QB and the kind of unexpected play we've come to expect the Patriots to bust out against Baltimore. Despite Nick Folk's missed extra point, it was New England's second excellent offensive drive of the half and one that gave them a 13-10 lead.

- The Ravens still got one more shot before the half, a situation the Patriots defense has had their struggles with this season. But a Josh Uche sack, the first of his career, put the Ravens in a quick hole that took away any hope of establishing an easy rhythm. Jackson would still get the Ravens moving, taking them all the way to the New England 38, on the edge of Justin Tucker's range, but J.C. Jackson picked off a deep attempt to get his fifth interception in five consecutive games, a new franchise record, and his sixth interception overall, best in the NFL. It was an excellent way to close out the first half with some momentum on both sides of the ball.

- Harris would pick up where he left off, ripping off 16 yards on the first play of the third quarter and then taking the second for another 25 with a bruising run. The Pats would then go to the air for the next play, with Newton finding Meyers for 20 yards, before Newton finished the drive off with a four-yard QB keeper sweep, cleanly carrying the ball into the end zone without being touched. Yes, it was a jaw-dropping four-play, touchdown-scoring drive for the Patriots that was too easy. Those have been non-existent this year. The Ravens had no answer for the Patriots physicality running the ball and that put New England's offense into a gear we hadn't quite seen yet. It was impressive. Folk converted the kick to extend the lead to 20-10.

- John Harbaugh likes to be aggressive so it wasn't a big surprise to see the Ravens go for a 4th-and-1 from their own 48-yard line on the next drive, but a bad direct snap to Mark Ingram blew up any chance the play had and the Patriots took over at the Ravens 37-yard line, looking for the knockout blow midway into the third quarter. Harris would add on 19 more rushing yards, putting him over his career high, but the Pats couldn't crack the goal-line, settling for a field goal that made it 23-10.

- Down 13 points, the Ravens found a way to respond on their next drive, including a fourth-down conversion by Gus Edwards. The Patriots did a better job of containing the big plays on this drive, but the Ravens still kept grinding out tough yards. Jackson would finish it off with a nice pass up the seam for an 18-yard touchdown to Willie Snead. It was the Ravens third drive of 10 plays-or-more as Baltimore closed the lead to 23-17 as the third quarter came to an end.

- A three-and-out by the Patriots offense, their first of the game, put the pressure right back on the defense as the game entered the fourth quarter but they'd force a three-and-out of their own. The defenses both stepped up as the final quarter arrived.

- New England would begin their next drive on their own four-yard-line as the Ravens began to really key on their running game and shut it down. The grinded out to their 27 but would be forced to punt midway through the fourth quarter. The heavy weather might've played a part in the offensive slowdown for both teams as the game entered crunch time.

- Lamar Jackson showed one of his most dynamic runs of the game on a 3rd-and-3 play that saw multiple Patriots defenders near him but unable to get a hand on him. He got the big conversion, but another botched snap by the Ravens on the next play backed them up, setting up a key 3rd-and-15 with just over four minutes left. Jackson's pass would fall incomplete off of Devin McCourty's hands, forcing a late punt by the Ravens, giving the Patriots a chance to ice the game.

- The Patriots quickly came up against a third down that they needed to convert, and Newton went with his favorite target Meyers, who found a hole in the zone coverage, made the catch and fell for a first down. It was another clutch play by Meyers who continues to stand out. They would have to punt the ball back to the Ravens to give them one last chance, down just six points but with no timeouts and 1:05 left in the game. But a first-down holding call set the Ravens back and the Patriots finished them off, sealing up their fourth win of the season.

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