Start of Game
The Patriots would start with the ball, but the Ravens defense proved their number one ranking right of the bat, forcing a quick three-and-out, keeping the Patriots offense largely out of sync.
The offense didn’t fare much better its first drive. After RB Terrance West pushed his way through two Patriots defenders on his way to a first down. The Ravens couldn’t muster any more yards after that, and following a sack on a third-and-six from the Ravens 36 yard line incurring a 10 yard loss, the Patriots would get the ball back.
The Ravens pass rush continued to cause New England problems, forcing Brady out of the pocket on both second and third down of what would be another three-and-out for the Ravens defense. The Patriots offensive line has had no answer for OLB Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil’s speed off the edges, as well as NT Brandon Williams’ power up the middle. A fantastic punt by Patriots punter Ryan Allen would pin the Ravens at their own one yard line.
That field position would prove very costly however. On the Ravens first play on its second offensive drive, the Patriots Malcolm Brown and Patrick Chung tackled Ravens RB Kenneth Dixon in the end zone, giving New England the first points of the game on a safety.
The safety would give the Patriots offense life, having their first sustained drive of the game. Once at the Baltimore 31, Dumervil provided quick pressure off the edge, forcing QB Tom Brady to throw the ball away. Brady through the ball with no receiver in the area, and a intentional ground call moved the Patriots to a third-and-20. Spectacular coverage by Jimmy Smith on Julian Edelman downfield forced an incompletion, and the Ravens would take over following a touchback on Allen’s punt.
After quickly being forced into a third down, Joe Flacco checked down to FB Kyle Juszcyck who charged his way 40 yards downfield to the Patriots 21 yard line (aided by an unnecessary roughness call on New England). Juszyzck broke multiple tackles on one the best runs of his career.
The run was not capitalized on. After being unable to find Darren Waller or Mike Wallace on second or third down respectively, the Ravens brought on Justin Tucker to attempt a 34 yard field goal. The usually reliable Tucker failed to put the Ravens on top however as Patriots linebacker Shea McClellin jumped over Morgan Cox and blocked the Tucker kick.
The Patriots yet again capitalized on their opputunities, efficiently driving down the field, seemingly moving the ball at will. Once on the doorstep of the end zone, Ravens corner Jimmy Smith tried to make a stop on Patriots receiver Malcolm Mitchell. While Smith was successful, he seemed to injure his leg on the play, unable to put any weight on his right leg. Smith was carted off the field in pain. The Patriots would score on the next play via a LeGarrette Blount dive.
Start of Second Quarter
After a false start penalty on Dennis Pitta, Flacco and the offense, recovered, picking up a first down on a beautiful pass to Kamar Aiken outside the numbers. The offense couldn’t get anything going after that, as drops by Breshad Permian and Kenneth Dixon killed the drive. Sam Koch’s ensuing punt would pin the Patriots at their own 11 yard line.
The Patriots continued to build on their momentum, moving quickly down the field despite the field position. A 60+ yard catch and run for James White moved the Patriots deep into Ravens territory. The Ravens were then unable to contain Blount, who pushed the Patriots near the goal line. It was there that Brady found Mitchell over the middle for a score.
The Ravens would get the ball back and continue to struggle. Joe Flacco looked deep to Mike Wallace in double coverage. Patriots safety Devin McCourty came down with an interception. The Ravens offense to this points has been completely dead in the water, putting together one of its worst games following one of its best games. Barstool Sports pretty much summed up the feeling.
ELITE arm punt by Joe Flacco https://t.co/63RG9qxa4B— Barstool Sports (@barstooltweetss) December 13, 2016
After big gains from Martellus Bennett and Malcolm Mitchell, the Patriots threatened to score yet again. On a third-and-goal play, Brady was unable to find a receiver. Brady through the ball away just before being sacked, but unlike many times in this game where he was able to get it away just in time and find a receiver, this time Brady found Eric Weddle in the end zone. Weddle came up with a huge momentum shift right before the Patriots seemed about to put the Ravens away.
John Urschel would take over center as Jeremy Zuttah went to the locker room following suffering an injury of McCourty’s interception return. (Update: Zuttah would pass concussion protocol, and would return to the game)
Ravens C Jeremy Zuttah is in concussion protocol. John Urschel has replaced him. https://t.co/afaW3Bbpoo— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) December 13, 2016
The offense could not capitalize however. After a beautiful throw to Mike Wallace on the sideline, the Ravens were unable to move the ball. Harbaugh and the coaching staff elected to go for a fourth-and-two on the Ravens half of the field. A brutal false start penalty on Kenneth Dixon would however force the Ravens to punt, again.
And Kenneth Dixon is called for a false start and Ravens will punt. Ravens can't get out of their own way. Brutal performance.— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) December 13, 2016
The defense picked a good time to remember how to play. The unit forced a quick three-and-out as Eric Weddle sacked Tom Brady on a third-and-10.
The Ravens offense finally capitalized on an opportunity given to them. A 15 yard gain via a Kenneth Dixon catch and run would help the Ravens cross onto the New England half of the field. Justin Tucker would get an oppurtunity to redeem himself with a 50 yard field goal. Shockingly, Tucker made the field goal. 50 yarders are just too easy for him.
The half would expire as the Patriots took a knee upon receiving the ball back.
End of First Half
First Half Notes
Offense - They really don’t deserve to have anything written about them, but the performance was absolutely horrible. The Ravens had 142 total yards in the first half. They have been completely unable to move the ball, and unable to get out of their own way.
Defense - The defense had one of its worst halves of the season, with an Eric Weddle interception the only reason why this game isn’t a complete blowout.
Special Teams - It is rare to see the Ravens special teams unit have an off game, but that is what has happened tonight. Allowing the blocked field goal massively turned the momentum in favor of the Patriots, and the Ravens could not recover.
First Half Winners
Sam Koch - Koch is the only player who has played well in the first half. But hey, he’s gotten a lot of chances.
Eric Weddle - Weddle got a huge interception right when it seemed the Patriots were going to extend their lead over the Patriots. Weddle also sacked Tom Brady on a third down with under 90 second remaining in the half, giving the Ravens offense one more chance before the half.
First Half Losers
Kenneth Dixon - Dixon has had two key drops, one a third down right when the Patriots were gaining momentum. After playing so well in recent games, Dixon has not provided the same electric running ability so far tonight, and his mistakes have cost his team. Dixon was also called for a false start as the Ravens attempted to convert a fourth down. This would force the Ravens to punt.
Everyone else - See “First Half Notes”
Penalties - The Ravens continue to commit an obscene amount of penalties, and all of them seem to come at the worst times. Most notably the false start call on Dixon as the Ravens were trying to convert on a fourth down.
Start of Second Half
After Devin Hester finally had one of his better returns of the season, a holding call on Matt Judon brought the Ravens back to their own seven. The offense would go three-and-out from there, and New England would take over for their first drive of the second half.
Pulling a trick out of the bag, the Patriots used a Blount to Brady flee flicker to find Chris Hogan down field for a big gain. Brady would find Martellus Bennett in the end zone despite having Zach Orr draped all over him, adding to the Patriots lead. This is getting really ugly. After starting hot, the Ravens defense has struggled to slow the Patriots, and the offense continues to show no life whats so ever.
The Ravens offense would quickly punt again, picking up just one first down. Flake looked down field to Wallace just before the Ravens punt, but Wallace dropped a ball he absolutely should have caught, its just been that kind of night.
However the Ravens would catch a huge break as the Koch punt bounced off Cyrus Jones foot, and right into the arms of Chris Moore, who would down the ball on the New England 3.
WHAT A BREAK FOR BALTIMORE— Kyle P Barber (@BMoreBeatdown) December 13, 2016
As if by some miracle, the Ravens took advantage of what they were gifted, and scored as Flacco found Darren Waller in the back of end zone. While the Ravens were gifted the opportunity, the fact that they took advantage of it will hopefully give the team some momentum to work off of.
On the ensuing kickoff, Patriots special teams ace Matthew Slater added to New England’s special teams misery, as Jusczcyk forced a Slater fumble. Shareece Wright happened to be in the right place in the right time, and fell on the ball, giving the Ravens the ball right back.
A pass to Steve Smith moved the Ravens inside the Patriots 10, where Flacco would find Kenneth Dixon in the flat. Dixon would easily run it into the end zone, putting the Ravens right back in the game.
The defense provided the shutdown drive it needed to keep the momentum. After allowing a first down to Julian Edelman on the sideline, the Patriots were unable to move the ball much further. Following a holding call on the Patriots, Ravens pressure forced bad throws from Brady, leading to a punt that would pin the Ravens at their own one yard line.
The Ravens all of the sudden starting running the ball, but were able to pick up first downs, mainly on the back of Dixon. A Flacco pass to Wallace on the sideline resembling Flacco’s crucial third down completion to Anquan Boldin in the Super Bowl, helped the Ravens convert another crucial third down as the third quarter expired.
Start of Fourth Quarter
A third-and-14, following Dixon being stuffed in the backfield and a Dixon drop, would end the Ravens drive. Despite Mike Wallace running from sideline to sideline to try to make space, the Patriots had too many players in coverage for Wallace to beat them all. The Patriots would take over at their own 23 following the Koch punt.
Wallace tried. Valiantly tried.— Kyle P Barber (@BMoreBeatdown) December 13, 2016
The Ravens defense would come up with another key three-and-out as Zach Orr stopped the shifty Dion Lewis in the open field. With the tackle, Orr now has 10 in the game, adding to his massive team lead, as well as helping him move up in the league ranks for tackles, a stat he was already in the top 10 for.
Kenneth Dixon continued his strong second half play on the Ravens ensuing drive, picking up tough yards running behind blockers, as well as having the shiftiness to break tackles. A 47 yard completion to Breshad Permian down field set the Ravens up in a great position to score.
The offense failed to get in the end zone however, as a Rob Ninkovich sack on Joe Flacco forced a field goal. The Ravens had called a timeout as the play clock was expiring on the third down play, and still not converting is definitely not ideal. Tucker would nail the field goal, putting the Ravens within three.
The Ravens defense had a massive gaffe on the ensuing Patriots possession. A massive busted coverage by Matt Elam left Chris Hogan running wide open down the field. Hogan would run easily in for the 80 yard score.
The Ravens, desprateltly needed to get points on the board, and fast. Flacco would find Mike Wallace and Steve Smith Sr. respectively for clutch third down conversions. A third down pass to Dennis Pitta came up just short of the first down, forcing a Ravens field goal. A field goal that barely squeaked in, giving Ravens fans some kind of mini-heart attack.
Just enough!— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) December 13, 2016
Justin Tucker makes the FG to get the Ravens back within 7 with just over 2 minutes to play. pic.twitter.com/jKnapPCmBu
The Ravens would attempt an onside kick, which would be unsuccessful. The Patriots used the power rushing of LeGarrette Blount, and picked up a key first down, the Ravens would be forced to use all of their time outs. The Patriots would run out the clock, completing the victory.
End of Game, Final Score: 30-23 Patriots
Second Half Notes
Offense - The offense found life in second half, turning what was a blowout into a thrilling contest. Led by Flacco and Dixon, the offense looked exponentially more explosive. Dixon had the breakout game that we at Baltimore Beatdown believed that he could have.
Defense - Talk about inconsistent. The defense had drives where it completely dominated the Patriots offense, but others where Brady easily picked them apart.
Special Teams - Two huge fumble recoveries, one on a punt and one on a kick put the Ravens right back in the game.
Second Half Winners
Joe Flacco - Flacco passed for 324 yards and 2 touchdowns on 37 completions. Flacco was relatively efficient, the majority of the incompletions coming on drops. Flacco also had huge third down conversions all throughout the second half. After an abysmal first half, Flacco stepped up and made plays to get the Ravens back in the game.
Kenneth Dixon - Dixon had a breakout game for the Ravens, totaling 81 total yards and a receiving touchdown. Dixon seemed to break a tackle on every single touch he had. The Ravens have found their future star at running back.
Zach Orr - Orr finished with 10 tackles. The Ravens tackling machine continues his impressive season. Orr already was in the top 10 in the NFL with over 110 tackles, and now increased his ranking yet again. The Ravens yet again made the right choice in making Orr its starting ILB in place of Darryl Smith.
Kyle Jusczyzk - Jusczyzk made a big play in the first half, and made a huge one in the second half, forcing a Matthew Slater fumble, fully shifting the momentum back to Baltimore.
Second Half Losers
Matt Elam - Elam allowed the biggest play, an 80 yard touchdown to Chris Hogan, but it was one of a number of secondary breakdowns. The Ravens allowed multiple long gains, to James White, Martellus Bennett, and Malcom Mitchell among others. Elam is the loser as his busted coverage may have costed the Ravens the game.
Terrance West - West was almost a non-factor. Dixon was such a major played in both the rushing and passing game. Dixon had 11 carries to West’s two. Dixon also had eight catches, leading the team, on 11 targets, also leading the team. West had four targets in the game in addition to his two carries. The changing of the guard at running back may be complete as Dixon proved to be the much more explosive and productive back.
The Ravens would fall to 7-6, one game back of the Steelers. The Ravens are still in a prime position to make the playoffs, but the Week 16 trip to Pittsburgh becomes even more important. The Ravens were able to come back from being down by 20. They showed fight after an abysmal first half. The Ravens offense set a game plan for future games. Considering the defense was without Jimmy Smith for the majority of the game, and without Jerraud Powers for most of the second half, the Ravens were able to stay in the game. Yes, it allowed over 400 passing yards, but the game did not turn into a blowout despite the injuries the Ravens suffered. The Ravens will return home to play the Eagles next week in a must win game.