Before a fourth-and-4 pass bounced off **Mark Clayton's** chest, before the Ravens' comeback fizzled in the game's final minute, there were several costly Baltimore errors that, although not as bitter, were just as damaging in the Ravens' 27-21 loss in New England.
And it's those mistakes that will leave the Ravens and their fans pondering what would have happened had they been avoided.
All told, the Ravens committed two turnovers and nine penalties that cost them 85 yards.
The two turnovers gave New England three points and took a potential field goal or more off the board for the Ravens. Of the penalties, three were on the defense and two gave second life to two New England touchdown drives.
Afterwards, the Ravens expressed their dissatisfaction with the game's officiating.
"Without totally going off the wall here, it is embarrassing to the game," linebacker Ray Lewis!(/team/roster/ray-lewis/1c6d5ed3-fe49-4a89-a6b5-9e358e906ae7/ "Ray Lewis") said. "[Tom] Brady is good enough to make his own plays, let him make the play. When you have two great teams that are going at it, let them go at it. Both of their touchdown drives had personal fouls on them that kept the drives alive. Did that win or lose the game? No, but it got them 14 points."
The troubles started early, as Ravens free agent kick returner **Chris Carr** fumbled the opening kickoff into the Patriots' hands. That led to a 3-0 New England lead less than a minute-and-a-half into the game.
Then, following a touchdown that gave the Ravens their only lead in the game, defensive end Haloti Ngata!(/team/roster/haloti-ngata/9225ada6-37a5-4b66-9776-1b6e4df2fb50/ "Haloti Ngata") was called for roughing the passer after a Tom Brady third-and-9 pass fell incomplete. Ngata's hand hit Brady's helmet after the pass was released.
The Patriots would have been on the edge of field goal range, but were instead awarded a first down at Baltimore's 22-yard line. Brady later regained the lead for the Patriots with a quarterback sneak across the goal line.
"I saw it. I'm not allowed to comment on it," Ravens head coach **John Harbaugh** said when asked about the penalty. "And I think you guys saw it too and you make those judgments for yourself."
The Ravens also helped Brady on a touchdown drive in the second quarter. Following a 1-yard completion, Terrell Suggs!(/team/roster/terrell-suggs/ad26be43-1380-45f1-b047-a91e850d9761/ "Terrell Suggs") was flagged for another roughing the passer penalty. Suggs was penalized for going low at Brady's knees after the pass, even though he missed Brady on the attempt.
Instead of 3rd-and-10 from Baltimore's 43-yard line, New England had a first down on the 27-yard line. Two plays later, Sammy Morris ran 12 yards for a touchdown.
The Ravens' offense rallied to drive deep into Patriots territory in the final minutes of the first half, but another mishap proved costly.
Quarterback Joe Flacco!(/team/roster/joe-flacco/3e20766f-6520-4ca1-9901-44389aaea8b8/ "Joe Flacco") lobbed a pass to the sideline on the outside shoulder of Clayton. But as Flacco let go of the pass, Clayton turned up-field towards the end zone. Patriots cornerback Leigh Bodden stepped in for the uncontested interception at the 9-yard line.
"It was a bad job by myself," Flacco said. "We were looking for Mark and I just choked the ball and I threw it right to the guy. You guys could see it. It wasn't that great of a play."
The problems spread to the second half as Carr committed an illegal contact penalty on the Patriots' first drive of the third quarter. Brady's third-down pass was incomplete, but the Patriots were awarded a first down on the penalty.
By that point, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was boiling on the sidelines and could be heard giving the referees his opinion of the call. Before second down, the Baltimore bench was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, a 15-yard penalty that gave New England another first down.
The final and most glaring mistake was Clayton's drop, which essentially ended the game. Flacco rolled to his right on fourth-and-4 and fired the ball into Clayton's chest for what would have been a first down.
But the ball bounced off Clayton's pads and out of his outstretched arms, handing possession to the Pats with 28 seconds left.
"I ran the route, got open, Joe threw a great ball and I dropped it," Clayton said. "I just wasn't able to come up with it and it cost us the game."