After Sunday’s contest against the Baltimore Ravens, which ended in a slightly controversial 31-30 defeat, the New England Patriots no doubt found themselves with conflicting emotions, depending on which side of the ball they played and/or coached. Those on the offensive side of the ball, at least those most directly involved in the New England Patriots passing game, had multiple reasons to be proud of their performances while those on the defensive side of the ball were left shaking their heads and wondering if they would ever be able to defend a good offense. In other words, the Patriots on Sunday resembled in many ways the Patriots of the last few seasons.
For the first time all season, the Patriots offense looked like the prolific offense we have come to expect from the team with Tom Brady and his group of receivers having their way with the still respected Baltimore Ravens defense. Of course, after the way in which Tom Brady carved up, one might wonder why the Ravens are considered to have one of the premier defenses in the league; as a sidenote, it is worth noting that the Ravens only ranked 18th in defense DVOA (-0.5 percent) after the first three weeks of the NFL season.
Still, even dominating an average defense counts for something, especially when it is done in the manner Brady and his receivers did in Sunday’s game. Brady was able to complete 28 of his 41 pass attempts for 335 yards. Since Brady also threw a touchdown pass and was sacked only twice for a loss of 16 yards, he was able to gain 8.2 yards per pass attempt, 8.7 adjusted yards per pass attempt, 7.4 yards per net attempt, and 7.9 adjusted net yards per pass attempt. Each of those statistics represented an elite level of passing efficiency for Brady.
Brady was helped out in his passing production by the play of wide receivers Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker, who combined to catch 17 of the 22 passes for which they were targeted and gain 250 yards. In doing so, the two wide receivers provided their quarterback with an enormous amount of value.
It is a good thing the passing offense was so prolific on Sunday, too, since the rushing offense for the Patriots was beyond anemic. The Patriots players who carried the ball were only able to muster 77 yards on 34 carries for a measly average of 2.3 yards per rush. If one needed a reminder that an offense does not need to be a great rushing team to score points, the Patriots on Sunday served up a very good reminder.
As a result of the Patriots passing attack being able to almost gain yards at will against the Ravens, the Patriots offense netted a total of 30 points for the game. Usually scoring 30 points in a single game will lead an NFL team to victory, but most teams do not have to play with the Patriots defense from Sunday.
The Patriots defense, through their feeble defensive efforts, made the Baltimore Ravens offense look even more unstoppable than the Patriots offense. Not only was Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco able to gain astronomically high 9.8 yards per pass attempt, 9.2 adjusted yards per pass attempt, 9.8 net yards per pass attempt, and 9.2 adjusted net yards per pass attempt against the Patriots, but the Ravens rushing attack also performed capably against the Patriots. The Ravens gained 121 yards on the ground in the contest on 26 carries.
Altogether, the Ravens were able to gain 7.7 yards per play en route to scoring 31 points, thus exposing the deficiencies the Patriots defense continues to have. All it took was finally facing a good offense to bring the Patriots defense crashing back down to earth.
Luckily for the Patriots, the team will not be forced to play many other teams with above-average quarterbacks so there is a strong possibility the Patriots defense will not be exposed in the future as they were on Sunday. Therefore, the next time the Patriots offense scores 30 points, the Patriots will be on the winning side of the final score.