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Patriots defense struggles against Ravens

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff  September 24, 2012 01:38 AM

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The young Patriots defense, which had played well in the first two games of the season, did not have its finest effort against the Ravens.

As Vince Wilfork said after the loss, "The offense played their tails off and we just left them out to dry."

The easy thing to do is to blame the replacement officials, but look at the numbers:

New England gave up 503 yards of offense, and the vast majority of that was in the final three quarters - the Ravens did not have a first down and had just 21 yards in the first quarter, meaning the Patriots allowed 482 yards over the final 45 minutes.

As bad statistically as the Patriots D was last year, it had just one game allowing over 500 yards - in Week 4 in Oakland, when it gave up 504.

Joe Flacco completed 71.4 percent of his passes (28-for-39) for 382 yards; the two top ballcarriers, Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce, averaged 4.9 yards per carry. The Ravens converted 50 percent of their third down tries.

And Baltimore's five scoring drives were 82, 92, 80, 92 and 70 yards.

And if you're still not convinced that it wasn't just the refs, consider this: of the Ravens' 28 first downs, five, or 17.8 percent, came by penalty. Of the Patriots' 33 first downs, nearly a quarter (eight), came by penalty. So New England gained more from the at-time-crazy calls than Baltimore.

Rob Ninkovich called this one "a hard pill to swallow," and it's tough to argue with him.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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