Patriots Survive a Wild One in Primetime
By Peter Santo
Well a win is a win I guess. The Patriots defeated the Ravens 30-23 on Monday night, but this one should’ve been a blowout. New England came out firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball, special teams and defense led to an early safety, and Tom Brady and the offense was rolling.
Mr. Checkdown Joe Flacco refused to throw the ball more than ten yards downfield in the first half as the Patriots cruised to a 16-3 halftime lead. It should’ve been about 30-3 at halftime, but referee Ed Hochuli took away a Trey Flowers strip sack and a Devin McCourty INT return.
But it all came unraveled for New England when Cyrus Jones muffed a punt which led to a Ravens’ score, followed by Matthew Slater fumbling the ensuing kickoff leading to yet another Baltimore touchdown.
Just when it looked like it was going to be a New England blowout, Flacco had his troops ready to upset Brady and Belichick again.
But that’s why Tom Brady has four Super Bowl rings and Flacco has been stuck on neutral ever since his one Super Bowl. Brady looked off one of the best safeties in the league in Eric Weddle and found Chris Hogan down the seam for the dagger touchdown, putting the Patriots up 30-20 with 6 minutes left.
This was a big win for the Patriots, you expect Brady and Belichick to win games at home against decent quarterbacks in December, and that’s what they did. They’ve yet to show me that this team is Super Bowl caliber, there are lots of issues to address, but there’s still time.
There were lots of positives from this game, Brady was flawless apart from one play. When Brady found Martellus Bennett on a fade route in the end zone on the first possession of the second half the game appeared over at 23-3. The Patriots were blowing out a good team in primetime.
But the special teams issues were paramount, and for New England it starts with Cyrus Jones. Jones had a rough night, not just returning punts, but he also let up a long pass to Breshad Perriman. He was replaced in coverage by Jonathan Jones, an undrafted rookie out of Auburn, and Jones looked better in limited action.
There were people on Twitter calling for Cyrus Jones to be cut last night, and that’s crazy. The Patriots aren’t going to give up on their second round pick just yet. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve probably seen the last of Cyrus Jones returning punts this season, but Belichick can still use him in coverage.
It was a big win, but this team still has a long way to go.