The New England Patriots are undefeated no more. After starting the season 8-0, the reigning Super Bowl champions lost their first game of 2019 Sunday night, falling to the Ravens on the road 37-20. While going undefeated was always unlikely, even for New England, the loss may have shined a light on some flaws the Patriots were able to hide during the first half of the season.
During their journey to 8-0, the Patriots were able to beat up on some of the worst teams in the NFL. Some of New England’s amazing stats, specifically on the defensive side of the ball were no doubt skewed by playing weak competition. That all changed against the Ravens, who ran for 210 yards while holding the Patriots to just 74 yards rushing and forcing two turnovers, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
“We knew they had one of the best running attacks in the NFL this year and they were able to really run the ball, we struggled stopping the run, and it pretty much gave them control of the game,” said Patriots safety Devin McCourty after the game. “They were able to play it on their terms, and that’s what hurt us the most.”
The Patriots had no answer for Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson, who scored two rushing touchdowns and added a third through the air. While Jackson has struggled at times as a passer this year, he completed 17 of his 23 passes, and because the Ravens never trailed, Jackson was never forced to push the ball downfield. In the end, New England’s defense gave up four touchdowns to the Baltimore offense, doubling the amount of touchdowns they’ve given up all year.
Obviously, being 8-1 isn’t the end of the world for the Patriots. However, after playing just one team with a winning record in their first eight games, New England will play their next four games against winning teams. It’s a stretch that appears even more challenging after the Ravens proved that good teams can expose some of New England’s flaws.
“Losses always find a way to re-calibrate how you see yourself. And we obviously have a lot of work to do,” said Tom Brady after the loss “Get beat by 17 points, that’s not what we’re all about. I give the Ravens credit. I think they played really well, took advantage of their opportunities.”