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Previously Stout Patriots' Defense Fades vs. Jackson, Ravens in 2nd Half

The New England Patriots' defense eventually wilted against Lamar Jackson in Sunday's loss.

The New England Patriots' regular-season success at home against the Baltimore Ravens is - to quote a certain famous author - nevermore ... nevermore. 

Baltimore spoiled the festivities at the Patriots' 2022 home opener at Gillette Stadium, breaking one of the more uncanny streaks in NFL history. With their 37-26 victory, the Ravens (2-1), victors of three prior playoff games held in Foxboro, won their first regular season game in Massachusetts in seven tries. 

New England (1-2) had a blueprint to defeat the favored Ravens, furiously fresh off a notoriously blown lead (or two) last weekend: they had to bottle up Baltimore's rushing and tight end attacks (allowing only 37 yards to opposing tight ends in the first two weeks) and force the leg of Justin Tucker, rather than the Ravens' multi-faceted arsenal of Lamar Jackson, Rashod Bateman, Mark Andrews, and Devin Duvernay, to beat them.

In the first half, the Patriots rose to the occasion. Bateman was held without a single reception and a dominant pass rush effort headlined by three Deatrich Wise takedowns of Jackson (Matthew Judon adding one more). Andrews broke loose for a couple of scores, but the Patriots likely easily lived with a one-point halftime deficit at 14-13. 

But any forward momentum ... as even the offense did its part, embarking on a 75-yard touchdown drive ending with a Damien Harris tally ... was killed when the Patriots fell victim to, ironically, a matching seven-play, 75-yard drive, this one capped off by Josh Oliver's one-yard tally from Jackson. 

The floodgates thus opened to yield 23-second-half points, a downright deluge after the New England defense allowed only a single touchdown in each of its first two appearances. A beleaguered offense still finding itself thus easily fell behind when forced to compensate. The unit, namely Jabrill Peppers, managed to force a lost fumble from Bateman, limited to only two receptions. But, in their desperation, Mac Jones was forced into three interceptions, more or less killing any hope at a comeback. 

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The fumble offered a quantum of redemption for Peppers and a tired secondary that also allowed a passing score to Duvernay in the red zone. Beyond Wise and Judon, only Ja'Whaun Bentley was able to register a hurry on Jackson. 

New England's staff thus has major questions to answer moving forward, especially with John Harbaugh's halftime adjustments (well-needed after their relaxed approach to the end of the second quarter yielded a Nick Folk field goal) clearly outclassing those of Bill Belichick. 

The road gets no easier for the Patriots' defense, which will have to deal with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers next Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS). 


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Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags