The New England Patriots have never been a team known for their defense. For the past decade their unrivaled success has been built around Tom Brady and their record-setting offenses. This year things were supposed to be different, this year the defense was supposed to step up and win their share of the games. That hadn’t happened so far this year, mostly because of injuries, but against their rival Baltimore Ravens, the New England defense finally won them a game.
And it wasn’t just any game, it was the most important game of the year up to this point. After a tough loss to the Miami Dolphins the week before, the Patriots needed a statement win against the defending Super Bowl champions. That win looked unlikely earlier in the week, but with the defense dominating the Ravens all game long, the win was never in jeopardy.
The New England defense held the Ravens to just 358 yards and 19 first downs on their way to the blowout victory, and much of that came in the fourth quarter when they were just trying to keep everything in front of them. They stuffed the run all day long, kept a gimpy Joe Flacco from beating them deep and came up big on fourth down. Despite several major injuries of their own, the Patriots defense smothered an offense that has the ability to get big plays against teams that aren’t prepared for them.
The Patriots still have championship aspirations this season, despite their up-and-down play this season. They locked up their fifth straight AFC East championship today, but they still have a long way to go before they can be considered among the league’s true contenders. If they want to win it all this year they’ll need the defense to use this game as a springboard and continue to do as much, if not more, than the offense.