The New England Patriots upset win over the Baltimore Ravens was the type of victory that they were in desperate need for, inching closer to the .500 and inserting themselves into the playoff race. New England handed the Ravens their first road loss of the season, and beat quarterback Lamar Jackson who was 25-5 as a starter entering the night.
The win was marked by a few key moments and statistics, which I’ve detailed below.
Critical Stat: New England running backs ran for 152 yards on 22 carries (5.4 yards per carry)
Feature running back Damien Harris and change-of-pace back Rex Burkhead combined for those 28 carries, which consistently kept the Patriots offense on schedule throughout the game. New England picked up 3 first downs on their first drive, but ultimately punted. However, that 11-play drive was paramount in getting the offense into a rhythm.
New England would score touchdowns on their next three possessions and a field goal after that. On those four consecutive scoring drives, New England’s running backs combined for 113 yards on just 14 carries.
Critical Moment: J.C. Jackson intercepts Lamar Jackson
New England took a 3-point lead with just over 1 minute remaining in the first half and seemed to be heading into the locker room with an advantage. The Ravens offense had other plans, converting an early 3rd and 9 and eventually moving the ball to the 38 yard line with 14 seconds remaining. While that would’ve been a long field goal in the swirling wind and rain, it was well within kicker Justin Tucker’s range.
Lamar Jackson decided to take a shot towards the endzone, targeting the speedy Marquise Brown down the sideline on a “stutter and go” route. Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson didn’t bite on the double move, stayed on Brown’s upfield shoulder and was in perfect position to play the ball when it arrived. Jackson’s interception likely saved 3 points and sent the Patriots into the locker room with momentum, which continued into the second half as the offense scored in just 4 plays coming out of the half.
Critical Stat: Kyle Dugger registers 5 run stops and only allows 5.8 yards per catch
Playing against the Ravens offense requires defensive speed, as Lamar Jackson presents a unique challenge. New England countered with extra defensive backs, playing rookie safety Kyle Dugger on 85% of the defensive snaps. Dugger is a special athlete in his own right, and New England used him in coverage and near the line of scrimmage. Dugger led the team with 5 run stops (tackles in the run game less than 4 yards on first down, less than 50% of the line to gain on second down, or shorter than the mark on 3rd and 4th down).
In coverage, Dugger was targeted 5 times, allowing just 29 yards on 4 receptions. His athleticism is a weapon for the Patriots defense as he gains more experience in the system.
Critical Moment: Patriots defense forces a late 3-and-out
Though New England opened up a 13-point second half lead, the Ravens immediately took back momentum. Baltimore went on an 11-play scoring drive to cut the deficit to 6 points, and then the Ravens defense forced New England into a 3-and-out. The tide seemed to be turning as the Ravens got the ball back early in the 4th quarter.
The Patriots defense responded by stopping Ravens running back Mark Ingram for a loss, forcing an incompletion on 2nd down, and then stopping receiver Willie Snead short of the marker on 3rd down. That response by the Patriots defense proved to be a turning point, as the rest of the quarter was a field position battle as the rain got heavier and heavier.