To illustrate how the 2020 Patriots have been harder to grasp than a greased piglet:
On the first drive, rhythm felt right and the running game was punishing and it ended with a punt. The following drive was powered by the pass and like the gimmick musket fire that permeated the end zone, it ended with a bang and six points. It shows, well, I’m not really sure what it shows.
All offseason we’ve waited for something to happen involving Joe Thuney. The phenomenal left guard was thought to be heading out of town because of cap reasons (they sold out to win three Super Bowls, you know). Even after receiving the “franchise” tag, it seemed like just a matter of time before the other shoe would drop and Thuney would be traded out of town. Even at the trade deadline with the battered offensive line, there were rumors of him being traded because, again, he’s not signed beyond this season. But watching this unit, finally completely healthy, I understand why Thuney is still on this roster. Wynn, Thuney, Andrews, Mason and Onwenu are as stout an offensive line as there is in the league.
The turning point of the first half Sunday was the third-and-goal stop midway through the second quarter that held the Ravens to a Justin Tucker field goal. The Patriots capitalized with a little razzmatazz where having the quarterback throw touchdowns to Rex Burkhead had become such old hat, they had receiver Jakobi Meyers do the honors instead. Meyers’ pass and JC Jackson’s sixth pick of the season seemed to set up everything we saw to start the second half.
This Patriots team is made for prime time, perhaps not in the old “Saturday Night Live” sense of the word but from a time efficiency standpoint, the kids are alright. Who knew this whole “running the football” thing could move these 8:25 p.m. games along so much faster?
After the Ravens gifted New England with prime field possession on a botched fourth-and-1 snap, they settled for a Nick Folk field goal. Not to second-guess anything the Patriots were doing at that point, but with second-and-goal from the 3-yard line, I would’ve liked to see Damien Harris get a touch. Harris has become a certified bell cow back and, as we all know, there is nothing I love more than a bell cow back! The Kevin Faulks, Shane Vereens and James Whites are great, but guys like Corey Dillon, LeGarrette Blount and Antowain Smith hold a special place in my heart. Harris runs with a ton of power, the sort of back that can go around you or through you and doesn’t particularly care which he needs to employ on a given run. If Harris can stay healthy, he’ll be a 1,000-yard rusher for the Patriots.
The Ravens answered the Patriots field goal with a touchdown drive, where New England flirted with two turnovers but never took them home. An uninspired three-and-out to start the fourth quarter didn’t help matters. The rain was coming down in buckets now and I hadn’t seen someone as miserable as Lamar Jackson since that time I took my girlfriend to the wrestling matches for her birthday.
In the end, it wasn’t the Patriots’ battering rushing attack that wore down the Ravens front, nor was it the heroics of the defending league MVP that settled the score Sunday night. Mother Nature simply weighed down both sides, turning this clash of titans into an aquatic affair.
Wind whipping over the bridge, water coming down in sheets, a night so treacherous I’m pretty sure the Ravens actually needed the lighthouse on their final drive to know which direction they needed to go.
As daunting as the weather was during the fourth quarter, I couldn’t help but think how much I’d have loved to be in the stands at Gillette Stadium Sunday night. This was a classic Patriots win, their first of the season. New England now sits at 4-5 with a 1 p.m. clash at Houston on the horizon Sunday.
Sterling Pingree is the senior staff writer for Jeff Solari’s Maine Sports Chowdah newsletter and a co-host of the 3 Point Stance Podcast with NFL veteran Mike DeVito and Aaron Jackson. An avid golfer, Pingree has been a member for more than a decade at Bangor Muni. He is a native of Kingfield and was a 4-year letterman in basketball and baseball at Mount Abram High School.