Sports Outside the Beltway

Well at least they beat the spread

Well given the history the Ravens should get some satisfaction from last night’s performance.

The Ravens’ motivation for tomorrow night comes from the chance to end the New England Patriots’ perfect season, stop a franchise-worst five-game losing streak and make NFL history of their own.

If the 20-point-underdog Ravens beat the undefeated Patriots, it would mark the biggest upset in 33 years, at least by Las Vegas standards.

In recorded oddsmaker history, only one team has won an NFL game after being an underdog of at least 20 points. It occurred in 1974, when the San Diego Chargers upended the heavily favored Cincinnati Bengals, 20-17.

From ESPN’s play by play

3rd and 10 at BLT 39
(1:53) (No Huddle, Shotgun) T.Brady pass short left to K.Faulk ran ob at BLT 30 for 9 yards.
Timeout #2 by BLT at 01:48.
4th and 1 at BLT 30
(1:48) H.Evans up the middle to BLT 31 for -1 yards.
PENALTY on NE-R.Hochstein, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at BLT 30 – No Play.
4th and 6 at BLT 35
(1:48) (Shotgun) T.Brady scrambles up the middle to BLT 23 for 12 yards (R.Lewis).
PENALTY on BLT-S.Rolle, Illegal Contact, 5 yards, enforced at BLT 23.
1st and 10 at BLT 18
(1:38) (Shotgun) K.Faulk up the middle to BLT 13 for 5 yards (H.Ngata).
2nd and 5 at BLT 13 (1:06) (Shotgun) T.Brady pass incomplete short middle to W.Welker (R.Lewis).
3rd and 5 at BLT 13
(1:00) (No Huddle, Shotgun) T.Brady pass incomplete short left to W.Welker.
Timeout #2 by NE at 00:55.
4th and 5 at BLT 13
(:55) (Shotgun) T.Brady pass incomplete short middle to B.Watson.
PENALTY on BLT-J.Winborne, Defensive Holding, 5 yards, enforced at BLT 13 – No Play.

There were 3 4th down plays in that series that looked like the Ravens had successfully defended their lead.
The first play isn’t listed as a play, for it was “Timeout #2 by BLT.” The Ravens had successfully stopped the one yard run, but the timeout was called before the play started.
On the next play New England got called for a false start, so even though the Ravens again successfully defended the run, the play was done over. The five yard penalty actually helped the Patriots. (A few play earlier the Ravens had declined a penalty, choosing to let the Patriots burn a down instead.)
Finally the 4th and 5 pass to Watson was incomplete, only then a penalty was called on the Ravens, and again the Patriots were saved from a 4th down.

All that said, it was still one of the most exciting games I ever saw. Even the game ended with a perfect 52 yard pass to Mark Clayton. Unfortunately Clayton was at the New England 3 when he caught it after time ran out.

Perhaps the most significant point of the Baltimore Sun’s scouting report is this:

Ravens run offense vs. Patriots run defense

If the Ravens have any chance of winning, they need to control the ball with a commitment to the running game. The Patriots have allowed 4.1 yards a carry, which is 20th in the NFL. But few teams can exploit New England’s run defense because most fall behind so early, which explains why offenses average 21.2 attempts (second fewest in the league) against the Patriots. Ranked third in the NFL in rushing, Ravens running back Willis McGahee is averaging 82.7 yards a game. He has scored a touchdown in each of his past six games. Edge: Ravens

Indeed McGahee ran for 138 yards and helped the Ravens hold the ball (and keep it away from Tom Brady.) He regularly broke tackles and had some really nice gains.

Perhaps the most meaningless stat in the game is that New England only converted 2 of 12 third down opportunities. That’s true as far as it goes. But as demonstrated above penalties and an ill-timed time out call bailed them out in the fourth quarter. But before that their second quarter touchdown drive was also aided by Baltimore penalties.

The Ravens controlled enough of the game that they should have won. But they gave Tom Brady a few too many extra chances and he exploited them.

I didn’t learn my lesson from 2000, when I woke a Yankees fan son to watch Mariano Rivera save the win against the Diamondbacks. Last night I woke a Ravens fan son to see the end of the game, even if his older (and now wiser) brother reminded me “Diamondbacks.”

Deadspin hopes this will stop those last minute time outs before big plays.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad.

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