For the last 20 years New England’s bread and butter has featured a potent rushing attack with the inclusion of a fullback. The Patriots stuck to that gameplan in a shocking 23-17 upset over the Baltimore Ravens. A heavy rainstorm descended upon Foxborough, and it played right into the hands of Bill Belichick and the Patriots. The rain clearly flustered Lamar Jackson and the Ravens as evident by the numerous botched snaps that killed several Baltimore drives.
Belichick’s and Josh McDaniels’ gameplan focused solely around Damien Harris and Rex Burkhead. Harris ran for 121 yards on 22 carries, while also reaching the 100 yard marker in the first minute of the third quarter. Burkhead only carried the ball 6 times for 31 yards, but he came up clutch in the passing game with 4 receptions for 35 yards with 2 touchdowns. One of those touchdowns came off a 24 yard pass from Jakobi Meyers at the end of the first half.
Cam Newton only threw for 118 yards, but he connected when it counted by going 13/17 in his pass attempts. The threat of the run early on set up the play action pass, which gave New England a ton of chunk plays. Newton’s favorite target at the moment is Meyers who caught 5 passes for 59 yards. Meyers always seems to make the right play and is in the right spot when Newton needs him.
Going into this Sunday night matchup the main concern for the Patriots was stopping Baltimore’s rushing attack. The Ravens have four guys on their roster who can kill teams on the ground, but New England outran Baltimore with 173 rushing yards to 115 yards. Jackson led the way for Baltimore with 55 yards on 11 rushing attempts, and the running backs were kept quiet. Gus Edwards led all Ravens backs with 42 yards on 7 carries, but J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram would combine for 18 yards on 10 carries.
Through 9 weeks the Ravens averaged 170 rushing yards per game, so it looked like they would have their way with New England considering the fact that the Patriots allowed 131 rushing yards per game going into this contest. Other than the Chiefs game, this was New England’s best defensive effort of the season. The Patriots contained the run game for the first time this season and J.C. Jackson came away with his league leading 6th interception of the year, while also intercepting a pass in 5 straight games which is a franchise record.
With more than half the 2020 season finished, the New England Patriots are currently Livin’ on a Prayer as they try and climb the AFC standings. This win against Baltimore puts the Pats at 4-5. They are 2.5 games behind the AFC East leading Buffalo Bills and 2 games out of a Wild Card spot. There is still a chance for New England to make the playoffs, but they will need a win against the 2-7 Texans in Houston next week to keep the hope alive.