Monday, September 24, 2012

New England Loses in Bizarre Fashion for the Second Week in a Row

For the second week in a row, a crazy, insane game was down to a field goal for New England.  Four lead changes, 218 penalty yards, and 899 yards of offense on Sunday night came down to a field goal attempt by Baltimore’s Justin Tucker with just two seconds left on the game clock. 

For a brief moment, it looked like Tucker had missed the 27-yard chip shot that would have been the fifth lead change of the game and given Baltimore a victory.  But in a ruling that seems just as wild as the game itself had been, the kick, which appeared to have dipped over the right upright was ruled good, handing the Patriots their second loss in as many games.

The 31-30 Ravens victory was set up by two bad plays by a New England secondary that, like the rest of the Patriots defense, couldn’t seem to do its job Sunday night in Baltimore.  First, a lofty pass by Joe Flacco intended for Anquan Boldin was nearly picked off by Kyle Arrington.  Then, Devin McCourty was called for pass interference when Flacco tried to hit Jacoby Jones deep, moving the ball from the New England 34 down inside the 10 with less than a minute to play.  From there, all Baltimore had to do was run the clock down and kick the field goal.

They did both successfully, notching their first-ever regular-season victory over the Pats in the process.

The Patriots defensive backs also missed two other potential interceptions.  A Flacco pass for Torrey Smith near the end of the first quarter was almost picked by McCourty.  New England led 13-0, and Baltimore had gained just 17 yards on 7 plays, but the Ravens turned their third drive of the game into a touchdown.

Then, with just over 13 minutes remaining and New England leading 30-21, McCourty had another chance at an interception, but the ball wound up incomplete instead.  The Ravens turned the ball over on downs five plays later when Bernard Pierce was stopped for a one-yard loss on fourth-and-1.

McCourty and the other defensive backs got an assist in losing the game with a little over two minutes to play.  Just before the two-minute warning with New England leading 30-28, Tom Brady was sacked for a seven-yard loss.  Despite giving Brady plenty of time to throw the ball all night, the offensive line allowed its second sack of the game at a critical moment.  The Patriots punted back to the Ravens two plays later with two minutes to go. 

Baltimore then proceeded to go on to the game-winning drive.

The New England offense wasn’t slowed despite missing standout tight end Aaron Hernandez.  Brady found Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd all night long, with each receiver hauling in over 100 yards receiving.

Fifty-nine of Welker’s 142 yards receiving came on a single play in the first quarter, when Brady hit him on a long pass on the left side of the field.  The play set up a Gostkowski field goal that gave the Pats a 3-0 lead. 

The Patriots are now 1-2.  They’ll head to Buffalo next week to take on the 2-1 Bills in an AFC East showdown.  

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