Patriots

5 takeaways from the Patriots’ back-and-forth defeat to the Ravens

Second-half turnovers decided a dramatic home opener.

DeVante Parker
DeVante Parker makes a catch against Ravens defensive back Brandon Stephens. AP Photo/Paul Connors

The Patriots lost a wild game to the Ravens 37-26 in the 2022 home opener on Sunday, dropping the team’s record to 1-2.

Adding to New England’s problems was the fact that quarterback Mac Jones suffered a leg injury on his final play in the fourth quarter, and had to be helped to the locker room.

Here are a few takeaways from an up-and-down day:

Second-half mistakes tilted the game away from the Patriots.

The Patriots committed four second-half turnovers, dooming any possibility of a getting a win on Sunday.

As always with turnovers, they seem to coalesce neatly with the fault lines of the game in retrospect.

The first Jones interception allowed the Ravens to make it a two-score lead in the third quarter (31-20). The second Jones interception came on the heels of a Baltimore turnover (Rashod Batemen’s fumble), squandering a golden opportunity.

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Even after that, the Patriots still managed to get the ball back in the fourth quarter down just 31-26.

This time, it was not Jones’s fault, but wide receiver Nelson Agholor’s. Cruelly, Agholor’s mistake came after he made a clutch catch and was running downfield. Ravens rookie safety Kyle Hamilton caught him from behind and knocked the ball out.

Baltimore took the ensuing possession down the field 73 yards on seven plays to put the game away on a Jackson touchdown run.

Having held the game in their hands, the Patriots let multiple opportunities slip through their fingers.

The good, the bad, and the ugly from Mac Jones

For much of the game, it was possible to say that Jones was having his best performance of the young season.

Ironically coming on a day when leading receiver Jakobi Meyers was out with a knee injury, Jones and the Patriots’ passing game came as close as the team has looked in 2022 to having a rhythm at various points.

Along with DeVante Parker’s big day, Kendrick Bourne also returned to increased usage in the passing game with four catches for 58 yards. The high-water mark came after the Patriots took the lead (21-20) following a touchdown drive to open the second half (which bookended a successful field goal drive at the end of the first half).

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Things deteriorated for Jones as the day went along, however. Turnovers, including a poorly judged fourth-quarter interception to Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey in the end zone, cost the Patriots points.

On the final play of his day — which ended in his third interception of the afternoon — Jones suffered an injury to his left leg and appeared to be in serious pain as he was carried to the locker room.

After the game, Bill Belichick provided no immediate updates on Jones’s status. Update: According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the X-rays on Jones’ ankle came back negative.

DeVante Parker’s day was an encouraging performance.

Having made just one catch for nine yards in two games prior to Sunday, Parker broke out in a big way against the Ravens.

Targeted 10 times, Parker made five catches for a whopping 156 yards. Though he was targeted by Jones later in the game on the end zone interception, Parker’s contributions shouldn’t get overlooked simply because the day ended in disappointment.

Whether or not Parker, onetime the 14th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, can continue to consistently be productive remains to be seen (with Jones’s uncertain injury status a key part of the equation as well).

Jonathan Jones and Deatrich Wise played well.

While the Patriots defense — much like the team as a whole — had both good and bad moments on Sunday, cornerback Jonathan Jones and defensive end Deatrich Wise put together solid afternoons.

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Wise, 28, justified his recent elevation to being one of the team’s captains, totaling three sacks and four tackles-for-loss in the game. His disruptive ability was an asset for Belichick’s defense.

Jones, 29, was a playmaker in the secondary for New England. He picked off Jackson in the first half, and gave the Patriots a glimmer of hope in the second half by forcing Bateman into a fumble after the Ravens wide receiver made a catch.

Lamar Jackson was too much.

Baltimore entered the the game without starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley, and backup Patrick Mekari left Sunday’s game with an injury. But despite being down to a third string tackle, Jackson still found a way to make plays.

In the end, his nine-yard touchdown run sealed the win for Baltimore.

And throughout the day, his ability — even merely as an occasional decoy on option plays — was a force that the Patriots defense had trouble containing.

Jackson finished with four touchdowns in the air and one on the ground, willing his team to a win.

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