BAL-NE grades: Brady’s short passing game seals Patriots win

The top takeaways and highest-graded players from New England’s victory over Baltimore.

| 5 months ago
(Maddie Meyer, Getty Images)

(Maddie Meyer, Getty Images)

BAL-NE grades: Brady’s short passing game seals Patriots win

New England Patriots 30, Baltimore Ravens 23 

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from New England’s 30-23 victory over Baltimore.

New England Patriots

Quarterback grade: Tom Brady, 81.9

Short passes lead to gains after the catch

Tom Brady led the Patriots’ offense with multiple missing weapons and showed why he is one of the best-ever quarterbacks to play the game. While the Patriots didn’t score as many points as his performance would make you think, his play was on the money. As per usual Brady was able to take control of the game through short and intermediate passes. Brady was able to lead his receivers to yards after the catch by consistently putting the ball in front of the receiver where they did not have to adjust for the ball. When Brady did struggle it came when he was pressured, part of this is from the poor interception he threw when he threw the ball to Eric Weddle. However for the rest of the game Brady was pressured on 38.5 percent of his passes and he had a QB rating of 107.1. He was able to produce some big plays while being pressured, as he was too strong for the Ravens defense.


Top offensive players 

FB James Develin, 91.7
TE Martellus Bennett, 85.8
C David Andrews, 81.8
WR Chris Hogan, 78.4
WR Malcolm Mitchell, 72.6

Martellus Bennett shines on Monday night

When Rob Gronkowski went down for the season everyone knew it would fall on the shoulders of Martellus Bennett to perform at the level he did earlier in the season. And while he was a better run blocker this week, it was his performance as a receiver that showed his value. His best play came on his touchdown play where he was able to take the ball over Zachary Orr head and use his strength to keep the ball away from Orr. For the game Bennett caught every pass that was targeted his way and showed that teams still have to worry about the Patriots’ No. 1 tight end, even if he isn’t at the same level as Gronkowski.

Top defensive players 

CB Malcolm Butler, 82.3
DI Malcom Brown, 76.2
ED Rob Ninkovich, 74.7
S Patrick Chung, 74.0
ED Shea McClellin, 72.9

Malcolm Butler leads the way

Malcolm Butler led the Patriots defense in terms of overall grade on Monday night, and his 88.2 overall grade now ranks fifth among all cornerbacks this season. Against Baltimore, Butler allowed three of four targets to be caught but for just 31 yards total, with 25 of those coming on one play. Butler also had one pass breakup and made a critical stop, tackling Dennis Pitta just short of a first down on what would end up being Baltimore’s final drive. Malcom Brown led the defense with four hurries – a season high for him – and tied with Butler and Rob Ninkovich with a team-high three stops (a stop is a solo tackle which results in a loss for the offense, given the situation).

Baltimore Ravens

Quarterback Grade: Joe Flacco, 74.4

 Flacco bounces back in second half

The Raven’s quarterback had a brutal first half — he went just one of five for 18 yards and an interception on balls thrown at least 10 yards down field, and just 13 of 21 for 130 yards and an interception when throwing from a clean pocket. Afterward, however, Flacco was able to get into a rhythm to lead the Ravens back into contention (albeit with the benefit of some momentous Patriots’ turnovers on special teams). Flacco completed five of seven passes for 111 yards and a touchdown on throws traveling at least 10 yards in the air in the second half, while also going 20 of 25 for 132 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions on throws from a clean pocket. 


Top offensive players

T Ronnie Stanley, 83.6
G Marshal Yanda, 81.7
FB Kyle Juszczyk, 81.6
T Ricky Wagner, 79.8
C Jeremy Zuttah, 76.8 

Offensive line excels in pass protection in New England 

Joe Flacco was under pressure on four of his first ten drop backs on Monday night and it looked like the Patriots were going to have no issues bullying their way into the Ravens’ backfield. Well, that certainly didn’t end up being the case as Flacco finished the night facing pressure on just eight of his 55 drop backs, which translates to a 14.5 percent rate, the lowest among all QBs in Week 14. All five members of Baltimore’s offensive line allowed a pressure but only RG Jeremy Zuttah allowed more then that, as he gave up two hurries.

Top defensive players

 S Eric Weddle, 80.8
DI Brandon Williams, 79.8
CB Shareece Wright, 76.2
CB Tavon Young, 76.0
DI Timmy Jernigan, 75.9

Eric Weddle continues high level of play 

The Baltimore defense had one standout performance on defense in Eric Weddle, who once again showed his value to this defense. He had an interception and was active in all phases with a sack and a stop in the run game. What he was unable to do was make up for the performance by some of the other defenders for the Ravens. The Patriots picked on linebacker Zachary Orr to the tune of 70 yards with every pass completed where he was in coverage by six different players, as he was unable to prevent the Patriots’ offense completing the ball in the middle of the field.


  • Dollar Flipper

    Tom Brady’s such a game manager.

    • crosseyedlemon

      If the end result is a win, then it really doesn’t matter if the QB is a pet detective.

      • Dollar Flipper

        Agreed! When the Pats won their last Superbowl, it looked like the Chiefs offense. Quick passes under 10 yards every time. Just sick of the Alex Smith complaints (not saying he’s as good as TB of course).

        • Rare_Ndividual

          I totally agree with you. I was thinking that to myself. Alex Smith is consistantly criticized for getting the ball out quick in X amount of time, yet have seen many games that showed Brady’s release time and it’s always among the quickest. Also like you I am in no way saying Alex is better than Brady.

          • Chris Cross

            The patriots winning with other QBs is evidence of them being a good team that’s well coached and better they the crappy teams they’ve beaten. I don’t know how them ranking in bottom 10 in passing through those 4 games somehow makes Brady a worse QB.

  • JudoPrince

    Baltimore gave this game away with the conservative offensive approach. They have challenged and beaten New England in past playoff games, against better defenses with aggressive passes downfield. The numerous 2-4 yard checkdowns were surprising especially in the first half and during the two minute drill late in the game. The Ravens know the formula for beating this team and it simply wasn’t applied.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Formula for beating Patriots:

    • Scott West

      As the Ravens said after the game, the Pats were defending the deep routes all game, and Flacco had no opportunities. He took an ill-advised shot once, and McCourty secured the interception. Throwing more interceptions like that is not the recipe for anything but losing. The tried to do what you are saying, and the Pats defended it well.

      • JudoPrince

        New England plays that style of defense every game. They haven’t deviated from that philosophy for over a decade. They commit to defending deep routes and force underneath completions. In past games however, the Ravens figured out how to push the ball down field.

        For example, establishing a run game to force linebackers and safeties in the box on play action and then attacking the deep middle. Flacco hitting receivers with timely throws after identifying soft spots in zone coverage. Using fly routes to create coverage dilemmas for safeties resulting in big plays deep in the seems. The Ravens have used these concepts in the past with success against New England. The approach was far different this game. They planned their offense around underneath throws to set up manageable situations and sacrificed aggressive downfield plays. That plays into NE’s hands.

        • Rare_Ndividual

          I wasn’t making excuses for the Ravens losing, we lost fair and square, we had dumb playcalling, mistakes, and dropped passes. But The whole night Flacco was impatient in the pocket and the Patriots knew it ,which was why they continued to rush 3 defenders. Flacco wasn’t showing poise the pocket like a Aaron Rodgers or Phillip Rivers or Brady. Rushing 3 against those guys they show awareness to sit in the pocket and wait to guy to get open where as Flacco was in a hurry to throw checkdowns. Weshould have run the ball right at their 3-man rush, but our OC is dumb, and continues to call way more passes than runs.