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Monday, October 5, 2009

Flacco looks good without the unibrow

Nobody is talking about them nationally but the Patriots defense is legit. For the second week in a row, they beat a previously unbeaten team as they knocked off Baltimore 27-21 yesterday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.

Unlike the Falcons the week before, the Ravens (3-1) are for real. Not much separated these teams and essentially it came down to a dropped pass on fourth down by Baltimore receiver Mark Clayton.

Tom Brady had his best game of the season, 21 of 32 for 258 yards, a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown. Randy Moss (3 catches, 50 yards) scored his first touchdown of the season and Wes Welker (6 catches, 48 yards) returned after missing the past two games.

What this game will be remembered for is the Patriots' (3-1) defense making more plays than the much-hyped Baltimore D. On the opening kickoff of the game, New England's special teams caused and recovered a fumble. All they could get out of the great field position was a 32-yard kick by Stephen Gostkowski.

The next Ravens drive was the Joe Flacco (27 of 47, 264 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception) and Derrick Mason (7 catches, 88 yards) show. The ageless receiver had six catches for 77 yards on that drive alone. He finished it off with a leaping, 20-yard touchdown catch when he held on despite landing awkwardly on his head.

Ray Rice showed off his skills with 103 yards rushing and 49 yards receiving.

New England put together its best two drives of the game in the second quarter as they scored two touchdowns in the red zone (which has been the team's biggest issue).

Brady finished off the first with a quarterback sneak up the middle for a yard. Sammy Morris' 12-yard run gave New England a 17-7 halftime lead.

Baltimore's defense got it back into the game with a fumble recovery by Dwan Edwards in the end zone. Terrell Suggs strip-sacked Brady on that play.

Moss put the lead back to two scores (24-14) when he caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Brady. It wasn't a beautiful throw or play but Brady did what he had to do as the Ravens were coming on a blitz. He simply threw it to Moss who had the inside position on Dominique Foxworth.

The Ravens wouldn't go away, a sign of how good they are, as Willis McGahee scored on a 13-yard catch and run.

Brady and the offense had one more score in them as Gostkowski added the final points on a 33-yard field goal.

The scoring defense has been impressive for the Patriots but they had been lacking big plays, until yesterday. Leigh Bodden recorded his first interception for New England and Mike Wright had two sacks.

Brandon Meriweather continued to develop into the playmaker that the secondary desperately needs as he had a team-high nine tackles. Rookie cornerback Darius Butler saw his most playing time of the season and he delivered with a few key pass breakups.

Another test awaits next Sunday as the Patriots travel to Denver to face the 4-0 Broncos and ex-offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

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