Morning sports update: ESPN analysts still doubt Patriots’ playoff chances despite upset vs. Ravens

"A nice win yesterday, great coaching using the fullback in the run game, but this is not a playoff football team."

Patriots win Ravens
Patriots players celebrate on Sunday night in the win against the Ravens. –Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The Patriots upset the Ravens on a rainswept Sunday night at Gillette Stadium, 23-17. New England ran for 173 yards in total and played mistake-free football to move to 4-5 on the season.

Also on Sunday, Dustin Johnson won the Masters by finishing at 20-under.

Experts still doubt the Patriots’ playoff chances: The Patriots, entering Sunday’s game 3-5 and in desperate need of a win, stunned the Ravens (now 6-3) to keep playoff hopes in the 2020 season alive.

The win came thanks to an efficient New England performance, drawing praise from ESPN commentators on the morning show “Get Up!” for the coaching quality in particular.


“I saw an incredible performance by Bill Belichick and company,” admitted former coach Rex Ryan, now an ESPN analyst. “Look, there was no great passing game, throwing the ball down the field. I mean, let’s face it, they had Jakobi Meyers was the only one that threw the ball down the field. But it was a creative running game.”

“Chalk that up to the New England Patriots,” Ryan said of the team’s game plan. “They schemed [the Ravens]. They knew Baltimore was playing all that man coverage, so what did they do? A lot of outside runs, crack tosses, [got] the numbers in their favor, and then quarterback runs obviously.”

Yet while the show’s roundtable discussion had praise for the Patriots’ win, the collective agreement remained that New England isn’t going to be a playoff team.

“They’re still not talented enough,” said former quarterback-turned-analyst Dan Orlovsky. “Listen, if they’re going to play in 30 degrees in pouring rain against a team with no passing game, sure. Then I’ll give it to you, but no, I look at this schedule. They’ll probably beat Houston,  that Cardinals game will probably be a loss. They’ll probably beat the Chargers, then they’ll lose to the Rams, they’ll lose to the Dolphins, they’ll lose to the Bills.


“So you’re looking at what, 7-9?” pondered Orlovsky. “Maybe 6-10, so still not a playoff team. A nice win yesterday, great coaching using the fullback in the run game, but this is not a playoff football team.”

Trivia: Who was the quarterback of the last NFL team to win its division with a losing record?

(Answer at the bottom).

Hint: In college, he originally committed to play for Urban Meyer at Florida before transferring.

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On this day: In 1957, Bill Russell pulled down a new NBA record for rebounds in a single game, snagging 49 along with 28 points in a 111-89 win over the Philadelphia Warriors.

The record would stand until 1960, when Russell’s rival, Wilt Chamberlain, totaled 55 rebounds in a game against the Celtics. Yet while Chamberlain ended up with the record, Russell — as he so often did during the two players’ rivalry — got the win, as Boston prevailed 132-129.

Daily highlight: DeAndre Hopkins completed a truly remarkable game-winning play for the Cardinals on Sunday, as Arizona defeated Buffalo 32-30 thanks to the touchdown catch with no time remaining.

Trivia answer: Cam Newton

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