Monday Night Football saw New England Patriots take their winning run to five as they overcame the Raven’s to win by 30 – 23. After NFL Week 13, the Patriots stand at 11 – 2 and atop the AFC. The Patriots win takes them level with NFC leaders Dallas Cowboys, who have an identical 11 – 2 record and who are the only NFL team to have secured their place in this season’s playoffs. The Patriots will join the Cowboys in the playoffs if they can overcome the Broncos on Sunday. Oddly for teams with identical 2016 league records the Patriots and the Cowboys are also tied for the highest number of Super Bowl appearances, both teams stand at eight.
The Patriots and Cowboys will nudge ahead of Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos, who also have eight Super Bowl appearances. The Patriots’ victory on Monday Night Football was anything but plain sailing as a sloppy second half allowed the Ravens back into a game that should have been more comfortable for the New England Patriots.
Bleacher Report highlighted the Patriots uncharacteristic sloppiness, they coughed up three turnovers to the Ravens, something they haven’t done for close to three years. Those turnovers could easily have cost the game against the Ravens, who are themselves playoff contenders. Even more concerning for Patriots fans will be the fact that two of the turnovers came in their own “red zone” and led to Baltimore touchdowns.
How The Patriots Offense Overcame The Ravens Defense
Of course, when you have Tom Brady on your team then your game is likely built on offense, and it was offense that saw the Patriots home. As the New York Times reported, Brady threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns. Brady connected with Chris Hogan for a 79-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and that score gave the Patriots just enough breathing space to keep their winning streak going into week 14. Brady’s performance saw him become the fourth NFL quarterback to throw 450 touchdowns.
Patriots fans will be counting their blessings this morning because Brady’s 79-yard bomb came when his team had their backs to the wall and looked likely to lose the game. Two fumbles, in under a minute, gifted the Ravens 14 points and when Baltimore kicked a field goal, a comfortable Patriots lead was reduced to just three points. That 17-point turnaround will have ensured Patriots fans had their hearts in their mouths. New England simply don’t lose games when they go into the fourth quarter with a lead. By scraping home in this one, the Patriots have now managed 90 straight wins when they started the fourth quarter with a lead.
After an error ridden performance last night, some might question whether a Patriots side without Rob Gronkowski, who is injured again, can maintain their momentum through the rest of the regular season and the playoffs. Let’s remember that coming into this game, the Ravens boasted the NFL’s top-ranked defense. The Ravens have given up less than 300 yards per game this season, yet the Patriots offense had put them into a 23 – 3 lead with under nine minutes to play. It was defensive mistakes that allowed Baltimore back into the game.
Let’s face it, sometimes in sport you must win ugly. As New England showed last night, if you can win when you are not at your best then that is the mark of a champion team. Patriots fans won’t mind seeing more ugly wins as they take on the Broncos, Jets and Dolphins in their final three regular season games. Fans will be happy seeing the Patriots enter the playoffs as their conference’s top-seeded team.
Seven-Point Patriots Win Costs Gambler A Fortune
Spare a thought this morning for a gambler from Nevada. ESPN reports that the gambler had bet a $5 stake on a 15-game parlay. With 14 games in the bag all he needed was new England to beat the Ravens by more than seven points. He stood to win over $100,000. With the Patriots winning by seven his bet turned out to be a loser, a single point costing him a potential $100,000. Ouch!
[Featured Image by David Goldman/AP]