The Ravens won’t be playing for the AFC North title in Week 17.
They needed a win against the Patriots on Sunday to put themselves into position for a shot at the division crown, but turnovers, penalties and overall sloppy play doomed them to a 41-7 loss. The first half was a disaster for the Ravens and any feeling about a comeback in the final 30 minutes pretty much evaporated when Justin Tucker missed a field goal in the second half. Not only was it a curious call after the Ravens had gone on several fourth down tries after falling three scores behind New England, but it also resulted in Tucker’s first miss after 33 straight makes.
In other words, when Tucker’s not right then nothing’s going right for the Ravens. And very little went right for Baltimore on Sunday. Most of the focus will deservedly be on the offense, which extended their touchdown-less streak to seven quarters before Joe Flacco scored on a one-yard plunge in the fourth quarter.
Flacco was 22-of-38 for 260 yards and two inteceptions on a day when he and his receivers seemed largely out of sync. The running game succeeded in fits and starts, but passing became the order of the day once the Ravens fell behind and they could never sustain momentum until the game was way out of reach. It didn’t help that the Patriots also came up with four sacks on a very strong defensive day across the board that was capped off with a pair of defensive scores off turnovers by Tyrod Taylor in garbage time.
The loss makes the Bengals AFC North champions and it gives a reprieve to the Dolphins after Miami lost earlier in the day in similarly one-sided fashion against the Bills. With the Dolphins, Steelers and Chargers also in the mix for the final playoff spot, the Ravens will still need to beat the Bengals even with the division on the table.
The Patriots didn’t put up many fireworks on offense Sunday, but they ground out 142 rushing yards on 34 carries to make their early lead stand up. They clinched the AFC East when the Dolphins lost and the win keeps them ahead of the Bengals in the race for the No. 2 seed and a bye into the divisional round of the playoffs. If they beat the Bills next week, that spot will be theirs and they can try to get cornerback Kyle Arrington, safety Devin McCourty and running back Shane Vereen healthy after injuries on Sunday.