One week after being torched for 486 yards against the Eagles, the Ravens surrendered another 396 yards to the Patriots.
However, Baltimore permitted just 51 over the final 14 minutes of the game. The timely defense was a significant reason the Ravens were able to come back from a 30-21 deficit to eke out a 31-30 victory over Tom Brady and New England, improving to 2-1 on the season.
While cornerback Cary Williams and linebacker Ray Lewis each had a team-high 10 tackles, it was linebacker Dannell Ellerbe who was the unit’s top performer. Ellerbe contributed eight tackles, including two for loss, 1.5 sacks for a 12.5-yard loss and two quarterback hurries.
When the Patriots offense was at its best, the Ravens put no pressure on Brady whatsoever. It seemed like they went from the first series to the fourth quarter without laying a hand on him.
But in the moments it mattered most, Ellerbe helped take the quarterback down. The key rush came on second down with 2:06 remaining, as Ellerbe and Haloti Ngata broke through the Pats’ line for a sack, setting New England back seven yards and eventually forcing the visitors to punt.
Coach John Harbaugh was especially pleased to see the defense come up with the big stops late, rather than the long, clock-killing drives the Patriots had earlier put together.
“That’s what they had to do to win the game,” Harbaugh said. “We were fighting like crazy. This offense is really, really good. That quarterback is really, really good. We have great respect for Tom Brady. We have obviously been on the short end of a bunch of these in their stadium over the years. So we have a lot of respect for them. I am really proud of our defense.”
It might’ve been another night where the Ravens allowed an uncharacteristic amount of yards, but the way they finished is what seemed to stick.
“We had a long, long night on defense. A lot of things up, down,” cornerback Lardarius Webb said. “(But) we got the three-and-out when we needed to.”
Did the way last season ended in the AFC title game play a role in extra desire to come back?
“It wasn’t a redemption game,” Webb said. “But personally I was in that AFC championship game. I know in the back of some of these guys’ heads, it was kind of a redemption - you know, let’s get them back. But that was not even thought of this whole week.”
The Ravens’ defense was able to shrug off a slew of penalties, the majority of the team’s unsightly 14 flags for 135 yards. Slowing the game down was the fact that the replacement officials called New England for 10 more for 83 yards.
And both coaches had a rough night with the officiating, as Harbaugh drew a late 15-yard penalty for bumping one official and Pats coach Bill Belichick grabbed one by the arm at the end of the game.
“I’m not going to comment about that,” Belichick said. “You saw the game. What did we have, 30 penalties called in that game?”
Belichick appeared incensed that the game-winning kick wasn’t reviewed. What did Justin Tucker think?
“Bottom line is it went in,” he said. “That’s all I care about. It went in.”
As for other strong performances, the Ravens’ offense played its part with 503 total yards against the NFL’s second-ranked defense, made more impressive by the fact that Baltimore had just 21 yards in the first quarter.
Ray Rice ran 20 times for 101 yards and a touchdown and Joe Flacco had a terrific performance after last week’s shoddy one. He completed 28 of 39 attempts for 382 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. It was Flacco’s most passing yards since Sept. 27, 2011, the third game of last season.
Flacco downplayed the win even though it came against a strong opponent that edged the Ravens out of a Super Bowl berth a season ago.
“It just means we’re 2-1 and not 1-2,” he said. “We can probably move on to Cleveland a little bit quicker than we would have if it went the other way. It was a good win, and we have to take it for what it is, which is just a win and move on.”