New England Patriots Loss Highlighted by Penalties

Last Sunday, the New England Patriots were handed their first loss this season in the most embarrassing way possible. The Baltimore Ravens and quarterback Lamar Jackson absolutely steamrolled New England’s defense as well as emasculating the Patriots “Boogeymen.” However, despite the Patriots putrid run defense, their overall sloppy play in key situations should be the real criticism of Sunday’s game.

Penalties Play Significant Role in New England Patriots Loss in Week 9

Undisciplined Penalties

Over the past 20 years, New England and head coach Bill Belichick have prided themselves on having a fundamentally sound, disciplined football team. The Patriots were far from that expectation throughout this game as they committed several penalties during moments that had a major impact on the final score. The first major penalty came on a fourth and three during the Ravens opening drive. After the Patriots defense made an impressive goal-line stop that forced a Ravens field goal attempt, defensive end Shilique Calhoun was penalized for a neutral zone infraction. The penalty gave the Ravens a first down and led to a Jackson rushing touchdown on the very next play. If that out of character penalty does not happen, the first quarter would have concluded with only a six-point Ravens lead, rather than a 10-point lead. 

The second quarter was flag-plagued for New England, as the quarter accounted for 43 percent of their total penalties. The most significant penalty of the quarter came with just under six minutes left in the half while the Patriots had a first and goal from the Ravens seven-yard line. Right guard Shaq Mason was called for a holding penalty which created a Patriots first and goal from the Ravens 17-yard line. The penalty killed New England’s drive and ended with a field goal. Entering this game, the Patriots offense scored a touchdown 81 percent of the time during first and goal situations inside their opponent’s 10-yard line. If that holding penalty was not committed, New England likely would have scored a touchdown and lead Baltimore 17-13 going into halftime.

Throughout the entire third quarter as well as much of the fourth, New England cleaned up their untimely sloppy penalties. However, when the game was on the line during the middle of the fourth quarter, the Patriots defense yet again committed two inexcusable penalties. Both penalties occurred on third-down plays during the Ravens game-sealing touchdown drive. The first penalty came with just over 11 minutes left, on a third and four from the Ravens 38-yard line. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower committed an offside penalty, negating a defensive stop that would have resulted in a fourth and one. Instead, the penalty gave the Ravens a free first down and kept their drive alive. The second penalty occurred with just under eight minutes left, on a third and seven from New England’s own 30-yard line. Cornerback Jason McCourty committed an illegal use of hands penalty that negated an incomplete pass which would have created a fourth and seven. Again, the Patriots gifted the Ravens another free set of downs. 

Penalties Influencing Outcome

Continuing the above hypotheticals, if Hightower’s penalty was not committed, the Ravens would have likely punted, giving New England the ball with 11 minutes trailing only 24-26. Furthermore, if the Hightower penalty still happened, but the McCourty penalty did not, the Ravens would have likely kicked a field goal. This would have given the Patriots the ball back with around seven minutes, trailing by a score of 29-24. While there is certainly no guarantee of a Patriots win, there is no denying that without those terrible penalties, the Patriots would have at least had the chance for late-game heroics.

Official Game Recap 

Teams 1st Quarter 2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter 4th Quarter Total
Patriots 0 13 7 0 20
Ravens 10 7 7 13 37


Game Recap Without Key Penalties

Teams 1st Quarter 2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter 4th Quarter Total
Patriots 0 17 

(No Mason penalty)


(Would have had a chance for points, but no guarantees)


(Possibly more)


(No Calhoun penalty) 

7 7 6 or 9

(Depending which penalty is taken out)

26 or 29 

New England played their worst defensive game of the season, but the unacceptable penalties are what truly put the game out of reach. The Ravens proved they are a serious contender and if the Patriots continue to play the way they did last Sunday, they will not be the AFC’s number one seed.

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1 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I see it this was. We had the 1st neutral zone infraction that gave the Ravens 7 points instead of 3. The Edelman fumble gave the Ravens 7, and the Interception by Thomas and the Ravens worked that back down the field gave them 7 more. Pats would have had that game 20 – 19.

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