The New England Patriots hadn’t lost since Dec. 16, 2018 – a stretch of 13 straight wins.
They’re the defending Super Bowl champions. They were an undefeated 8-0 this season.
But after Baltimore scored a memorable 37-20 midseason win over the NFL’s golden child on Sunday Night Football at M&T Bank Stadium, Ravens players were of course happy, but not deliriously so.
Lamar Jackson shrugged off MVP chants from the crowd and questions about it from media. Earl Thomas III said intercepting Tom Brady was great, but he’d done it before. Marlon Humphrey, who turned the tide with the longest fumble recovery return in Ravens history, downplayed what the win “says” about Baltimore’s team.
“We don’t really care what ya’ll think,” Humphrey said. “We already know what we can do. So it really wasn’t a statement win for us. … We’ll probably see them again.”
Baltimore moved to 6-2 and has a two-game lead over the Steelers (4-4) and four-game lead on the Cleveland Browns (2-6) in the AFC North midway through the season.
The final score was rather lopsided, but this one had all the twists and turns of a typical Ravens-Patriots battle.
Baltimore jumped out to a 17-0 lead and had M&T Bank Stadium rocking. Jackson and the offense were running all over the Patriots and the defense was suffocating Brady and Co.
You knew it wasn’t going to play out that way the entire game, but the Ravens seemed to start giving it away. A muffed punt by Cyrus Jones set up a Patriots touchdown and a fumble deep in Baltimore territory teed up a field goal.
Suddenly, the Patriots were back in the game and their no-huddle offense had the Ravens' defense gassed. It was 17-13 at intermission and the Patriots started marching with their first possession of the second half.
That’s when Patrick Onwuasor punched the ball out of Julian Edelman’s hands and Humphrey returned it 70 yards to give Baltimore a 24-13 lead.
“We just handled the current events,” Thomas said. “We didn’t flinch.”
The game was hardly over after Humphrey’s touchdown return. New England came right back down the field for a quick touchdown, and the defense was again on its heels. Humphrey admitted after the game that Brady’s hurry-up offense felt “unstoppable” at times.
Just when the defense needed it, however, Jackson and the offense carried it across the finish line.
First was a 14-play touchdown drive highlighted by an 18-yard completion on third down to Mark Andrews, in which Jackson stared down an all-out blitz and delivered the perfect pass. Andrews leapt to make the perfect catch too.
Jackson hit Willie Snead IV on a crucial fourth-and-4 pass from New England’s 38-yard line and Jackson juked out Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy on an 11-yard run that put the Ravens in position for Nick Boyle’s 5-yard touchdown catch – the first of his five-year career.
“They’re the Patriots. They’re good,” said Boyle, who led the team with five catches and scored his first career touchdown. “But we’re good too.”
The defense got a huge turnover on Thomas’ interception – thanks to an assist from Matthew Judon who drilled Brady to force an overthrow – and the offense was back in business again.
Jackson and his crew strung together another 14-play touchdown drive that he capped himself with a 1-yard score in which he extended the ball over the goal line with some help from right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to essentially ice the win.
“I think it was just the mindset we had all week,” Snead said. “Watching the film, a lot of teams were just letting them do what they wanted to do and not being aggressive, not attacking them. I think out of the gate, we were just coming at these guys. We weren’t afraid of them.”
It was the same mentality the Ravens took on defense. The Ravens hit Brady 10 times and sacked him twice. For as gassed as they were, they made the big plays when it counted.
“Aggressive, that’s what we are,” Judon said. “We came out trying to be physical and trying to be aggressive. We did what we do. We didn’t change for anybody.”