Ravens-Patriots: What We Learned
The Baltimore Ravens took down the defending Super-Bowl champion New England Patriots, 37-20, in Week 9. In the process, the Ravens firmly established themselves as a legitimate Super Bowl contender and quarterback Lamar Jackson continued his MVP-caliber season.
Here are three things we learned:
1. New England coach Bill Belichick admitted last week that he didn't have anyone on the roster to duplicate Jackson's skill set in practices leading up to the game. That was evident from the opening whistle as Jackson was able to make plays both running and throwing the football. He finished with 61 yards rushing on 16 carries with two touchdowns. Jackson also completed 17 of 23 passes for 163 yards with a touchdown and a 107.7 passer rating. Late in the fourth quarter, Jackson left the field to chants of "MVP." The Ravens are confident they can compete for a Super Bowl title with Jackson behind center.
2. The Ravens tightened their grip on the AFC North and put themselves in position to host a playoff game for the second straight year. It was a statement win that showed Baltimore can play with any team in the league. The Patriots had allowed four touchdowns all season, but gave up that many to Baltimore. The Ravens, who ran for 210 yards, likely only need to go 4-4 the rest of the way to secure a second consecutive division title. But they're aspirations are much higher and Baltimore has the potential to make a deep playoff run.
3. After some early struggles, Baltimore's defense is playing at a high level. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was 30 of 46 for 285 yards with a touchdown and interception. He was also sacked twice. The return of cornerback Jimmy Smith from a knee injury and the acquisition of Marcus Peters has strengthened the Ravens' secondary. Defensive coordinator Don Martindale has also developed some schemes to help the pass rush.