BALTIMORE — In almost every training camp practice, the Patriots practice a “four-minute drill” that is designed for the offense to finish off the game by running out the final four minutes.
The Patriots, leading the Ravens, 30-28, had that exact scenario when they took over with 4:01 to play. New England gained three first downs, but it couldn’t gain the final one needed to put the game out of reach.
“It’s the situational football that we talk about,” Brady said. “Two-minute, four-minute… two minute was good before the end of the half. Four minute, we had a chance to win it. We just don’t play well when we need to. Certainly, we’ve got to play our best when it means the most. And we need to start winning close games.”
Receiver Deion Branch shared the same frustration as Brady.
“Exactly,” he said. “Especially us on offense, we want to have the ball at the end of the game. We had it, and we didn’t execute the last couple of plays.”
There was a lot of good from the offense, with Brady completing 28 of 41 passes for 335 yards and a touchdown. Much of it came in a no-huddle attack with three receivers that seemed to have the Ravens’ defense reeling.
“We thought we had a good plan of attack against the Ravens,” coach Bill Belichick said of the offense. “We did a number of different things in the game. We did what we thought was best. Obviously it didn’t work out quite as good as we though it would. But there were some good things.”
Receiver Brandon Lloyd clicked much better with Brady, catching 9 of the 12 passes targeted to him for 108 yards. Wes Welker, who saw his role increase when Julian Edelman did not return with a hand injury, caught 8 of 10 passes for 142 yards, including a 59-yarder.
There will certainly be second-guesses for the offense: The decision by offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to called a reverse that lost 13 yards and stalled a drive, Danny Woodhead getting much more playing time than Stevan Ridley at running back, and tight end Rob Gronkowski getting just three passes (two for 21 yards).
“We just didn’t move the ball consistently enough to score points, score touchdowns,” Brady said. “They’re a good defense, they play well at home, and we just really didn’t take advantage of our opportunities.”