|5 things to know about Ravens: Stout run defense helping carry Baltimore down stretch drive||12.06.16 at 7:50 pm ET|
Five things you have to know about Ravens (7-5), who will travel to meet the Patriots (10-2) in a key AFC clash Monday night in Foxboro.
They’re OK at throwing the ball. Veteran quarterback Joe Flacco (321-for-497, 65 percent, 3,258 yards, 15 TDs, 11 INTs) leads a better-than-average passing attack that is currently 12th in the league (258 yards per game). Flacco does a nice job spreading things around in the passing game — six different offensive skill position players have 20 catches or more on the season, led by tight end Dennis Pitta (61 catches, 87 targets, 529 yards, 2 TDs), wide receiver Mike Wallace (57 catches, 92 targets, 851 yards, 4 TDs) and the ageless Steve Smith (54 catches, 76 targets, 589 yards, 3 TDs). The depth of the Baltimore passing game will be a good test for a New England secondary that has been tweaked a bit over the last few months.
They will occasionally have issues when it comes to pass defense. The Ravens are seventh in the league in passing yards allowed, having yielded an average of 222.3 yards per game. (Kirk Cousins, Eli Manning, Dak Prescott and Andy Dalton all had 250 or more passing yards against Baltimore.) The defense is pretty good when it comes to takeaways, as the Ravens have 14 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries. (The 22 takeaways are tied for fourth in the league.) Safety Eric Weddle and linebacker C.J. Mosley are tied for the team lead with three interceptions each, while Terrell Suggs is tops on the team with eight sacks. One more note: former New England defensive coordinator Dean Pees has been Baltimore’s DC since 2012. In four career games vs. Pees’ Baltimore defenses, quarterback Tom Brady is 2-2, and has gone 104-for-171 (61 percent) for 1,194 yards, with five touchdowns and three interceptions. Not bad, but not great either. With Baltimore’s run defense so stout and Rob Gronkowski on the shelf, Monday will be a sizable challenge for Brady and the Patriots’ passing game.
They’re really good at stopping the run. From a statistical standpoint, this is the best run defense the Patriots will face all season. The Ravens allow a paltry 73.8 rushing yards per game and 3.4 yards per carry, both of which are the best total in the league. In nine of the 12 games they’ve played, they’ve held opponents to 65 yards or less on the ground. Only two backs (Matt Forte and Isaiah Crowell) have hit the 100-yard mark all year against them. Bottom line? Don’t look for the Patriots to run the ball a lot on Monday.
As good as they are at stopping the run, they struggle to run the ball as a team. If there’s a weakness to the Ravens, it’s probably their lack of a ground game. Baltimore averages 89.7 rushing yards per game, 28th in the league, while the 3.7 yards per carry is good for 26th overall. Terrance West (163 carries, 650 yards, 5 TDs) is the closest thing they have to a lead back, while Kenneth Dixon (46 carries, 206 yards, 18 catches, 100 yards) is their answer as a third-down/change-up guy. While the Ravens occasionally been able to get the running game cranked up — they had 130 yards in an October loss to the Raiders — they’re pretty much a one-dimensional offense.
Kicker Justin Tucker is one of the best in the league. Tucker is the only regular kicker in the league who has been perfect when it comes to field goal attempts this season; the Texas product is 28-for-28 from the field (including 8-for-8 from 50-plus) and 20-for-20 on extra points. Punter Sam Koch is pretty good as well, as his 46 yards per punt average is 12th in the league and his 39.4 net is 21st. The Ravens have used a few different returners, but right now, veteran Devin Hester appears to be getting the majority of reps at both spots. Hester gas 24 punt returns for an average of 7 yards per chance and 17 kick returns for an average of 25.1 yards per opportunity. Good numbers, but nowhere near as impactful as he was earlier in his career. They do not have a return for touchdown, but yielded a punt return for a touchdown earlier in the season.
|Mike Pouncey: ‘[Patriots] kicked our ass in the second half’||12.14.14 at 5:40 pm ET|
FOXBORO — What a difference 14 weeks makes. After the Dolphins took it to the Patriots in the second half in Week 1 in South Florida, the Patriots returned the favor Sunday in Foxboro.
The Dolphins were feeling pretty good at halftime, entering the locker room trailing the Patriots 14-13, after scoring 10 points in the last 4:26 of the first half, including a touchdown with five seconds left.
Unfortunately, that those were the final points the Dolphins would score, as the Patriots took it to the Dolphins, outscoring them 27-0 in the second half, as the Patriots earned their sixth straight AFC East title with a 41-13 win.
This comes after Week 1 when the roles were reversed, as the Patriots were the ones who fell in the second half with Miami outscoring them, 23-0 for a 33-20 win in South Florida.
“They kicked our ass in the second half,” said Miami center/guard Mike Pouncey. “It felt like we had so much momentum going into halftime. Halftime speech was great. Guys were ready to go. They just beat us up in the second half. That simple.”
After totaling 271 yards of total offense in the first half, the Dolphins only had 113 in the second half. Over their first three drives — all in the third quarter — Miami totaled seven plays and 15 yards, including an interception. The Patriots scored 24 third quarter points, a franchise record, including 17 in the first 10:50 to blow the Dolphins right out of the water.
“Awful. It was an awful half, we didn’t come out to play,” wide receiver Mike Wallace said. “They whooped us from the first play to the last play. Bad. They dominated us in the second half, totally.”
|Miami’s Mike Wallace expects to go head-to-head with Darrelle Revis on Sunday||12.10.14 at 7:30 am ET|
The Miami receiver, who enters this weekend with 57 catches on 102 targets for 700 yards and seven touchdowns, is expected to renew acquaintances with the New England cornerback when the Dolphins meet the Patriots this weekend in Foxboro.
“It’s always going to be a challenge,” said Wallace. “He’s a great player, probably the best cornerback in the league, definitely top two or three no matter whose list you have. It’s always going to be a tough challenge, he’s a great player, no way around it.
“He’s a real smart, patient player. He has every intangible that’s needed to play cornerback. Good focus, good hips, hands. [And] he’s not afraid to tackle — he’ll get in your face. He has every single aspect you need to be a great cornerback, and that’s what makes him one of the best.”
Wallace estimated Tuesday they he saw Revis “maybe half of the game” when the two teams met in the regular season opener in September. He anticipates seeing him again this time around.
“I know I’ll see him. How much? I’m not sure,” said Wallace, who had seven catches on 11 targets for 81 yards and a touchdown in the opener against New England. “We’re playing the Patriots, [and] you never know what those guys are thinking. You just have to go about your business, prepare like you’re going to play against [Revis] or whoever. However the game comes and unfolds, we’ll be ready.”
Wallace has played a sizable role in the fact that Miami has won the last two games between the two teams dating back to last year (both of which took place in South Florida), including the 2014 season opener when the Dolphins captured a 33-20 win over the Patriots.
“When you hear so much about beating the Patriots, beating the Patriots, beating the Patriots, I think you get tired of hearing it during the week that you have no choice but to go out and beat the Patriots,” Wallace said.
“I think it’s just, when you play them, you’re mindset is just different,” he explained. “You just know, who you’re playing against and you know the challenge that they’ve presented for so many years for the entire league. It’s just normal. I don’t think it’s just us, I think it’s every single team in the league, when you play the Patriots it’s going to be like that.”
Ultimately, Wallace said he has nothing but “respect” for a New England team that can clinch another division title with a win over Miami on Sunday.
“I respect them,” he said. “I saw something that said they’ve won 10-plus games for [12 straight years] — you can’t hate a team like that. You have to respect them, respect their grind, respect what they’re doing. Hopefully, you can mimic some of that and go about your business the same way.”
|Revis Report, Week 2: Corner could face unique challenge in Minnesota’s Cordarrelle Patterson||09.11.14 at 11:35 pm ET|
Each week, we’ll present The Revis Report, a look at what’s on tap for the Patriots cornerback. This week, New England travels to Minnesota for a date with the Vikings.
Overview: This will mark Darrelle Revis‘ second regular-season game with the Patriots, and his first against the Vikings since he was with the Jets on Oct. 11, 2010. New England is coming off a surprising 33-20 loss to the Dolphins in the regular-season opener.
“We’re ready to go,” Revis told reporters after practice on Thursday. “We had a great practice today [and] we’ve just got to focus on [Friday] and tie all three practices together, and we’ll be ready to go.”
Last week: According to NFL gamebooks, Revis played 62 of a possible 74 snaps against the Dolphins (84 percent), and after looking at the All-22 film, we had him lined up on the left side for 61 of the possible 62 snaps. (This would certainly jibe with what we saw from him over the course of the preseason, where he was on the left side for 33 of his 36 preseason snaps.) In all, he was targeted five times by Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and yielded two catches for a total of 36 yards to Miami’s Mike Wallace, and also had two pass breakups.
While Revis stuck to one side of the field for the bulk of the afternoon, most of his action came in head-to-head matchups with Wallace. The most eventful play came in the first half when Wallace dropped an impressive double-move on Revis, allowing him to get some separation on the cornerback and get some clearance on the way to the end zone. However, the ball was just slightly off the mark, and Wallace was unable to come down with the ball inbounds. Revis ended the game with one tackle and a fumble recovery.
(For what it’s worth, Wallace’s move caused us to think about the most notable quote of the previous week from Revis on the receiver, saying that his speed can sometimes be deceptive. “Film can play tricks on your eyes sometimes when you watch it,” Revis said when asked about preparing for Wallace. “Until you get out there … film speed and game speed are totally two different things. I played against him in the past — a lot of guys on this team have — and I know how fast he is. He’s probably the fastest receiver in the league.”)
Ultimately, Wallace ended the game with seven catches (on 11 targets) for 81 yards and a touchdown, an uptick from the numbers he had averaged against Revis-led defenses in the past (four catches for 41 yards per contest).
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|Darrelle Revis: ‘Very frustrating’ to miss end of game with cramps||09.07.14 at 8:06 pm ET|
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — It may not have changed the outcome but Darrelle Revis said he was frustrated to be kept on the sideline by a minor issue in the closing moments of Sunday’s 33-20 loss to the Dolphins.
“Very frustrating. I couldn’t be out there and help the team out in desperation mode at that time,” Revis said.
Revis was asked specifically if it was cramping from the heat and humidity that kept him out of the game at the end.
“Uh, yeah,” Revis said. “Minor. Minor. Minor things going on but yeah.”
Revis made his official debut with the Patriots and was targeted several times by Ryan Tannehill, including on the Mike Wallace touchdown reception over the middle that tied the game, 20-20, in the third quarter.
“I actually knocked the pass down and thought it popped up like the post he ran earlier in the first half. I don’t know, I have to see the film,” Revis said of the Wallace TD grab. “My teammates were telling me it hit his knee and popped back into his hands. You don’t want those happen – sometimes they happen ‘ but the only thing you can do is, I don’t know. Sometimes the plays happen and you have to tip your hat off to Mike for keeping focus and coming up with it some weird way.”
Wallace, who finished with seven catches and a TD on 11 targets, nearly had another touchdown on Revis on an out-and-up move in the second quarter but Wallace’s right foot came down out of bounds.
“It’s not a good day for us,” Revis said. “We didn’t play too well and that’s the taste we have in our mouth today. It doesn’t matter about my first day, it would have been way better if we would have come out with a victory. We’re worried about the loss.”
|Revis Report, Week 1: Will it be Mike Wallace or Charles Clay?||09.04.14 at 11:13 pm ET|
Each week, we’ll present The Revis Report, a look at what’s on tap for the Patriots cornerback over the coming week. This week, it’s the first regular-season game for the Patriots, as they travel to Miami for a date with the Dolphins.
Overview: This is Darrelle Revis‘ first game with the Patriots, and so there’s not much to go on in terms of history within New England’s system. Over the course of the preseason, the cornerback played two games, and took 36 snaps overall. By our highly unscientific count, he was on the right side for 33 of those snaps, and on the left for three. He was thrown at three times, and there was one completion, a pass from Cam Newton to Kelvin Benjamin.
“I’m very excited. It’s the first week — it’s good to get things going now,” Revis said Thursday when asked if he was excited to get the regular season started. “I think we’re all excited. We’ve been waiting for this for awhile, and now, it’s here.”
Possible man matchups: Revis will likely be utilized against one of two people — either wide receiver Mike Wallace or tight end Charles Clay. Revis said Thursday he’s matched up against Wallace on several occasions times in the past — it appears the last time the two went head-to-head was Week 2 of the 2012 season. According to Pro Football Focus, Revis played in 43 of a possible 85 defensive snaps before going down with a knee injury that ultimately left him on the shelf for the rest of the season.
Then, there’s Clay. Why would Bill Belichick have Revis work against a tight end? A few reasons. First, Belichick has traditionally been all about trying to stop the opposing team’s No. 1 offensive option, and he has a clear level of respect for Clay, so much so that he assigned lead corner Aqib Talib (with some help) to Clay in last year’s contest against the Dolphins in Miami. Clay had one catch for six yards in the loss to the Dolphins.
Clay presents a myriad of challenges for a defender who might be assigned to him in single coverage, including the fact that he could line up at several different positions.
“You have to find him,” Belichick said of Clay earlier this week. “He’s all over. Sometimes he’s in the normal tight end location but you certainly can’t count on that — flex, could be in the backfield, could be detached as a receiver.”
FOXBORO — While it’s unclear how the Patriots will utilize Darrelle Revis in the regular season-opener Sunday against the Dolphins in Miami, it sounds like he’s intrigued about the challenge of facing wide receiver Mike Wallace.
Revis had nothing but positive things to say about Wallace on Thursday, saying he was “probably the fastest receiver in the league.”
“He’s very fast and he’s a very explosive receiver,” Revis said of Wallace, who was equally as effusive in his praise of Revis earlier in the week.
According to Revis — who faced him several times when he was in New York — the challenge of going up against Wallace means more than just watching him on film.
“Film can play tricks on your eyes sometimes when you watch it,” Revis said when pressed on Wallace’s skill set. “Until you get out there … film speed and game speed are totally two different things. I played against him in the past — a lot of guys on this team have — and I know how fast he is. He’s probably the fastest receiver in the league. We all know that and we are all aware of it as well.”
Then, there’s also the issue that comes with facing a team that is installing a new offensive system. With new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor — who made his bones working with Chip Kelly’s speedy offense in Philly last season — it’s likely that the Dolphins will keep their foot on the gas pedal.
When mixed with the swelling South Florida conditions, it presents a unique set of challenges for the New England defense.
“Miami always plays fast. They played fast in the past,” Revis said. “The weather plays a part as well. That hot weather. We’re aware. We’re aware of all the situations. I think that’s why we have a week to prepare to go through every scenario we can — player and coachwise — and just game plan the best we can.”
Ultimately, Revis — who was signed as a free agent in the spring — is excited for his first regular season action with the Patriots.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “It’s the first week — it’s good to get things going now. I think we’re all excited. We’ve been waiting for this for awhile, and now, it’s here.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.