The New England Patriots survived a nail-biter against the Baltimore Ravens Oct. 17, claiming a 23-20 win in overtime at Gillette Stadium as kicker Stephen Gotskowski nailed a 35-yard field goal to seal a come-from-behind victory.

The Ravens played well offensively for most of the game, building a 20-10 lead at the start of the fourth quarter. But New England’s defense shut the Ravens out from that point on, giving Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offensive unit just enough time to march back and tie the score to end regulation.

Brady had a fair performance, completing 27 of 44 passes for 292 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

Outstanding Player of the Game:
For anyone wondering how the Patriots were going to make plays offensively without recently traded star receiver Randy Moss, all doubt may be removed by Deion Branch’s performance. New England traded for Branch, who started the season with the Seattle Seahawks, not long after trading Moss away to the Vikings, and the move worked in the Patriots’ favor. Branch caught nine passes for 98 yards, including a touchdown catch to close out the third quarter. Branch won multiple Super Bowls with the Patriots earlier in the 2000s and was able to fit right back into the team’s passing scheme.

Unsung Hero of the Game:

Patriots punter Zoltan Mesko was outstanding for New England Sunday, pinning two of six punts inside the 20-yard line. Zoltan saved the Patriots after a three-and-out drive in overtime by booting a 65-yard punt that forced Baltimore to take over at their own 17-yard line. His punting allowed the Patriots to win the battle of field possession when it mattered most.

More Game Notes:

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco put on one of his best performances so far this season, completing 27 of 35 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns. He connected frequently with veteran receiver Derrick Mason, who caught eight passes for 100 yards, and Anquan Boldin, who caught four passes for 63 yards and a touchdown. Third-year tailback Ray Rice rushed for 88 yards on 28 carries. Baltimore’s offense recorded 377 total yards but stalled in the final moments of the game, blowing a chance at stealing a tough road win against a possible playoff contender.

Next Up:

The Ravens fell to a 4-2 overall record and will host the winless Buffalo Bills (0-5 overall) Oct. 24 at M&T Bank Stadium while New England (4-1) will take to the road to face the San Diego Chargers (2-4 overall).

 

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor