BALTIMORE — New England is undefeated no more.
Fueled by a dominant defensive performance and more brilliance from quarterback Lamar Jackson, the Baltimore Ravens knocked off the only unbeaten team left in the AFC on Sunday night, downing the Patriots, 37-20.
Jackson threw for 163 yards, ran for 61 more and tallied three total touchdowns.
Here are three things we learned from Sunday night’s game:
1. Lamar Jackson is for real: OK, so we probably learned this before Sunday night, but it bears repeating anyways. Jackson is absolutely the real deal. He might not be the best quarterback in the league, but there’s nobody else like him. The jukes, arm talent and overall swag are evident. But don’t let that stuff overshadow the broad, complex and deeply significant impact that Jackson has on opposing defenses. He creates so many problems and forces teams to come up with solutions on the fly.
We saw as much with Bill Belichick and the Patriots on Sunday night. Jackson and the Ravens completely bamboozled New England’s defense to start the game. Belichick and his staff answered — but only for a time. Their goal was probably to make Jackson beat them from the pocket, but that proved to be easier said than done.
2. New England’s defense is mortal: The Patriots entered Week 9 with the league’s best defense, holding opponents to just 234 yards and 7.6 points per game. On Sunday, they gave up 226 yards and 17 points in the first half alone. They made some ugly mistakes, especially in the first half, and lacked the type of discipline that has been one of their chief characteristics in recent years. Most notably, they committed four penalties that directly resulted in Baltimore first downs.
3. The AFC just got more interesting: The Patriots are still the front-runners in the AFC, but they’re no longer running away with the conference like they once were. All those “maybe they can go 16-0” musings are dead. The Ravens, meanwhile, look legit — especially if Jackson continues to play like he did Sunday. The Chiefs proved their mettle by beating the Vikings without Patrick Mahomes. The Texans, led by Deshaun Watson, are right there, too. Even the Bills — yes, the Buffalo Bills — are rolling. There’s still a lot of season left, obviously, but Sunday night showed that the top of the AFC might not be as clear-cut as it previously seemed.
SOURCE: USA Today, Tom Schad