New England 30, Baltimore 23
When: 8:30 PM ET, Monday, December 12, 2016
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
FOXBOROUGH – (Wire Service Report by Sports XChange for Digital Sports Desk) – It wasn’t supposed to be that close. The New England Patriots delighted their home crowd by leading the Baltimore Ravens by 20 in what had all the makings of a Monday night blowout. Not so fast.
“Kind of not the way we expected the game to go,” New England coach Bill Belichick said after two huge mistakes by his special teams forced the Patriots to hang on for a 30-23 victory.
Tom Brady hit a wide-open Chris Hogan with a 79-yard touchdown bomb with 6:18 left to keep the Ravens at bay.
“He was kind of not really the primary receiver on that play,” said Brady, who had his ninth career 400-yard game in the win. “He saw what I saw on that play … and kind of adjusted his route and I just tried to put it out there for him.
“It was a big play. We needed it.”
Tom Brady (12)
Brady’s second touchdown pass of the game was also the 450th of his NFL career, making him the fourth player to hit that mark. He also recorded his 100th home victory and became the third quarterback with 180 regular-season victories.
Punter Ryan Allen pinned the Ravens on their 1, leading to New England’s third safety of the season, and linebacker Shea McClellin hurdled the long snapper to block a field goal in the first half. But the second half turned into a special-teams nightmare for the home team.
New England rookie Cyrus Jones, who has had a nightmarish season in the return game, had a bouncing punt hit off his foot for a fumble. Then, special teams captain Matthew Slater (back after missing two games with a foot injury) fumbled away a kickoff.
Those miscues set up Joe Flacco for a pair of short touchdown passes. Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker’s 38-yard field goal made it 23-20 before Brady came through.
Flacco took his team to another Tucker field goal with 2:03 left. However, New England’s Patrick Chung recovered the onside kick and the Patriots (11-2) were able to run out the clock.
The Ravens (7-6) dropped a game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North and left their playoff chances very much in doubt.
“It doesn’t really matter what our record is,” Flacco said. “Like I heard you guys say, we’ve just got to win our games. Obviously, Pittsburgh is a game ahead of us, but we still have another game against them at their place. So it will be tough, but we’ve just got to focus one week at a time and go win football games.”
Brady, 8-1 since returning from his Deflategate suspension, completed 25 of 38 passes for 406 yards, the 76th time he has cleared 300. He threw three touchdown passes and also threw his second interception of the season, another mistake that helped the Ravens stay afloat.
The Patriots gained 496 yards against the No. 1 defense in the NFL.
“It was a big game for us,” Brady said. “You play at home in December on Monday night against a great defense, it was important for us to come out and play well. We knew it was going to be a 60-minute game; they’re a tough defense. There were some plays I wish we all would have had back, but they’re a competitive team; they force you into some errors.”
LeGarrette Blount (72 yards on 18 carries) tied the club record with his 14th rushing touchdown and also went over the 1,000-yard mark for the second time in his career. He is the Patriots’ first 1,000-yard rusher since 2012 and has a career-high 1,029 yards.