The New England Patriots held on tight to the football — even with a torrential downpour at Gillette Stadium — and they held onto their 23-17 win against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 10.
The Patriots’ season is still alive.
Just like we all thought, right? Everyone had faith when the Patriots fell to 2-5 … right?
Somehow, Bill Belichick always seems to turn around his season. When Tom Brady was at the helm, it took Belichick as many as five games to instill a degree of competency. As the Patriots transitioned from Brady to Cam Newton — a process which the pandemic interrupted — they seemed to need more time to get their act together. But that’s what they did against the Ravens. We saw New England’s offensive identity: a mistake-free, run-heavy brand of football. And the Patriots defense might be a bend-don’t-break unit, with a knack for generating turnovers at opportune moments.
So… can they keep it up? They’re still 4-5. They have a long way to go before they make they playoffs. But for now, let’s dive into the winners and losers from this stunning upset.
WINNER: WR Jakobi Meyers
So his receiving stats (five catches, 59 yards) didn’t match what he did in Week 9. That would’ve been wild if Meyers could match his breakout game, with 12 catches and 169 yards. Even so, Meyers didn’t disappoint. He was a steady contributor in the passing game — and I don’t just mean as a receiver. He threw New England’s second passing touchdown of the game. https://twitter.com/SInow/status/1328163870419136512 Meyers, who converted from quarterback to receiver at NC State, lofted a pretty moon ball to running back Rex Burkhead. An awfully fun play in an awfully fun game.
LOSER: WR N’Keal Harry
He looked a little gimpy in this game, but even if he had been healthy, he’d likely be the WR3 on this depth chart, with Meyers and Damiere Byrd advancing past Harry. If Julian Edelman returns over the next few weeks, then Harry drops to WR4. The former first-round pick is in danger of seeing his play time disappearing after a rough second season. His contributions as a run blocker only go so far.
WINNER: RB Damien Harris
He didn’t have a big play, per se. But his play was enormous in the scope of this game. New England pounded the ball with Harris throughout the game, and made this offense look legitimate — and not just because they were playing the New York Jets (which is why we brushed off their strong performance last week). The Ravens are a good defense. Harris hammered them 22 times for 121 yards. He’s RB1.
WINNER: CB J.C. Jackson
So … why do quarterbacks keep throwing at J.C. Jackson in crucial moments? Only bad things tend to happen. Lamar Jackson learned just that when he tried to force a ball in the red zone at the end of the first half. Baltimore should have walked away with a game-tying field goal, at least. Instead, Jackson ensured New England entered the second half with a lead. https://twitter.com/Patriots/status/1328166776220360705
LOSER: RB Sony Michel
Now what? Harris took Michel’s job. Michel’s body of work for the last two years speaks for itself and it says … nothing good. The Patriots probably can’t trade Michel for much in 2021. They’ll probably keep the former first-round pick for the final year of his contract as a lame duck on the back end of the roster.
WINNER: QB Cam Newton
He wasn’t ask to do much, but he was solid in what he did do, completing 13 of 17 for 118 yards and a touchdown. He added 11 carries for 21 yards and a touchdown. Most important, Newton didn’t turn over the football, which has been what sunk the Patriots in past weeks.
WINNER: LB Terez Hall
The speedy, undersized linebacker was making plays all over the field, and he played a huge role in helping limit the Ravens rushing attack. He finished with 10 tackles. Baltimore averaged 4.1 yards per carry. Their running backs (Mark ngram, Gus Edwards and J.K, Dobbins) averaged 3.4 yards per carry. Teams were whooping the Patriots with strong rushing attacks. But with Hall replacing Ja’Whuan Bentley at inside linebacker, that has changed.
LOSER: Special teams ace Justin Bethel
He committed a holding penalty on a punt return that Gunner Olszewski had interest in fielding during the game’s horrific conditions. Olszewski simply watched the ball bounce, likely for fear of muffing the punt. So when Bethel committed the holding penalty, he put the Patriots on the 4-yard line. That was brutal for New England, which needed all the yards it could get as it attempted to protect its lead in the fourth quarter.
WINNER: ILB(?) Chase Winovich
I’m mostly kidding when I say he’s an inside linebacker. He’s not. But he did play some snaps on the inside, and it’s a testament to his growing versatility (and the Patriots’ tremendous need at inside linebacker). Winovich was dropping into coverage far more than has been typical for him. The linebacker was stopping up the interior. And he was lining up on the edge. It seems the Patriots are hoping he can graduate from his situational role as a pass-rusher and third-down player. He made strides on Sunday night.