It appeared that Baltimore was setting itself up for a tying field goal with 14 seconds left, but Jackson tried to complete a deep pass to WR Marquise Brown. His throw was a bit short and to the inside, giving CB J.C. Jackson enough room to make the interception – his fifth in as many consecutive games, which established a new franchise record. New England went into the half with a narrow lead.
“I’m a playmaker, man. I know how to play the ball pretty well,” Jackson asserted afterward. “I’m just proud of my team the way we came out and competed and won. We played good against a good offensive team.”
The Patriots then got the ball back at the start of the third quarter and wasted little time. Two long runs by Damien Harris preceded a deep throw from Newton to Meyers inside the Ravens’ 10-yard line. Newton took care of the rest on a designed QB-keeper to score the third Patriots touchdown of the night.
“We knew we were facing a tough, physical team that wanted to come in and kind of bully us and push us around, but we wanted to stand up for ourselves and show how tough and physical we are,” Harris admitted. “That was the mentality of the whole team tonight. We competed hard for 60 minutes and came out with a great win against a great team. We knew if we played the way we’re capable of playing, we’d have a chance. I wanted to be a part of it and do my part to help this team win.”
Baltimore wouldn’t make it easy, however. From their own 48-yard line, the Ravens elected to go for a 4th-and-1 with a direct snap to RB Mark Ingram. However, an errant snap resulted in an 11-yard loss and a turnover on downs to the Patriots. Up by 10 midway through the third, New England had prime field position.
More good running by Harris – who finished with a career-best 121 yards rushing on 22 carries – only resulted in three more points from Folk, but with six minutes to play in the third, the Patriots led 23-10.
In his brief NFL career, Baltimore’s Jackson was 1-6 as a starter when his team trailed at the half, but the former Heisman Trophy winner hoped to mount his second such comeback. In 11 plays, he guided his tea 75 yards, finding Snead on the other end of an 18-yard touchdown strike just before the end of the third quarter. Tucker’s PAT narrowed the gap to just six points, 23-17.
The Ravens’ D then forced a quick three-and-out punt and got the ball back, albeit deep in their own end of the field. Baltimore wound up punting it right back, but a penalty pushed the Patriots inside their own 5-yard line with 11:25 left in the game.
Four minutes later, they punted and Baltimore was in business at their own 20. Whether it was a slippery football or just sloppy execution, Jackson and the Ravens were plagued throughout the night by off-target shotgun snaps by starting center Matt Skura. One of those came with six minutes to go and pushed the Ravens back to a 2nd-and-26 situation deep in their end of the field. It proved too much to overcome. Even though they got the ball back one more time, that particular play essentially sealed the outcome and seemed to encapsulate the kind of night the Ravens had here at Gillette.
“The ball is just wet… couldn’t do [anything] about it,” Baltimore’s Jackson acknowledged. “You know, [Skura] was trying to the best of his ability and I was trying right there with him. But things happen, especially in conditions like this.
“The weather wasn’t on our side. Every time we [had the ball], it was like the rain just started pouring down even harder. But you know, it’s part of football. Things happen. The weather’s not always going to be perfect, and we still have to find a way to pull out a victory. We just didn’t tonight.”
“This was a really fun game for a lot of reasons. It was a great team win,” Winovich confessed. “It was a big day for the team in general. A few weeks ago, there was – I don’t want to say a difference in morale – there were a lot of things outside our control and after last week, getting a win, there was a definite change in energy across the team.
“You could tell everyone was playing for each other, playing hard, playing through the whistle, and playing to the end of the game. We wanted that win. We’re fortunate to have gotten it. It was a hard-fought win.”
“It was huge. That’s a great team that we played tonight,” echoed Burkhead. “We were hoping to build off the win last week against the Jets. We really had a great week of preparation in practice. So, we had confidence going into the game, as long as we executed, controlled the line of scrimmage, and were physical throughout the game, we knew we could come out victorious. And that’s what we did.”