New England Patriots

Pats have fallen further, and faster, then expected

Typically, FOX knows a dog when it sniffs one.

Not all that long ago, the fourth-string announcing crew on duty Sunday would never have been working a Patriots-Ravens game. And it never would have been scheduled for 1 p.m. kickoff. Patriots-Ravens had 4 p.m., or 8 p.m., or 8 p.m. Monday, written all over it.

Maybe we should pick through the rubble for a possible bright side to the Patriots’ 37-26 loss.

Being a 1 p.m. game provided nauseous New Englanders with viewing options once the proceedings went into a fourth-quarter nosedive.

As we have been reminded a time or three this September, it really turned out to be a decent game for three quarters.

Every time someone says that it brings s growl to the lips of demanding Patriots fans.

How about this for silver-and-blue lining; three weeks into a season of futility, the Patriots may have stumbled upon an identity, satisfying those folks who have referred to their fading shadow of definition.

Championship material? No.

Playoff material? Not unless the AFC contenders all go belly up in a ditch.

This edition of the New England Patriots may be ready to master the art of staying within the striking distance through three, then coming unglued at the end.

They did it with astounding imprecision Sunday afternoon. Four turnovers in the second half. And if potential scoring drives didn’t end in a turnover, a play falling 5 or more yards short of a first down did the trick.

Of course, Ravens fans relished the ending. Baltimore coach John Harbaugh no doubt slept quite well Sunday night, having finally won a game on Bill Belichick’s home turf.

Baltimore’s defense, in its flawed state, saved its best for last – each time the Pats slid into scoring position.

It resembled the days at the beginning of the New England dynasty when the defense might bend but rarely broke with a game on the line.

Jones started the second half looking befuddled, then angry, then in pain. He hobbled off the field after the Pats’ frittered away their final scoring chance, unable to put weight on his left leg.

Later Sunday it was reported that of X-rays of his left ankle showed no break. On Monday he’ll have an MRI.

Considering the pounding Jones has taken through three weeks, maybe some time off would do him some good.

In the interim perhaps de facto play caller Matt Patricia can find a way to keep Jones safe – and maybe score a few more points along the way.

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