Mac Jones suffers leg injury in Patriots' turnover-plagued loss to Ravens

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — If the New England Patriots want to show that they’re contenders in the AFC, they’ll have to perform better than they did on Sunday.

The team’s home opener was a great chance to show the league that this team has taken a step forward from last year’s wild-card campaign. Former MVP Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens came to Gillette Stadium following a 42-38 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

If this game served as a litmus test, the end result showed that the Patriots have a way to go before they’ll be contending for another title. The Raven handed the Patriots a 37-26 loss, dropping the Pats to 1-2. New England has a matchup with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers next week.

Jackson was as good as advertised. He threw for 218 yards with four touchdowns while adding 110 yards and another touchdown on the ground. He outdueled Mac Jones. The Patriots quarterback finished 22 of 32 for 323 yards but with three interceptions. Jones added 31 rushing yards to go with a rushing touchdown.

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The Patriots hung with the Ravens and even led briefly in the second half, but costly turnovers by the offense were the team’s undoing. To make it worse, it appeared as though Jones suffered a left leg injury late in the fourth quarter when he was sacked.

Here are the main takeaways:

Patriots quarterback Mac Jones crosses the goal line for a touchdown over the grasp of the Ravens' Josh Bynes.
Patriots quarterback Mac Jones crosses the goal line for a touchdown over the grasp of the Ravens' Josh Bynes.

A poor third quarter and turnovers hurt the Patriots

After a field goal with time expiring in the first half, the Pats opened the third quarter with a Damien Harris 2-yard touchdown run. That gave the Patriots a  20-14 lead. The team and home crowd were feeling good.  But that feeling didn’t last long.

The Ravens responded with a touchdown of their own as Jackson hit Josh Oliver with a 1-yard touchdown pass at 8:39 of the third quarter and the Ravens led, 21-20.

The Ravens started with solid field position on their next series thanks to a 43-yard punt return by Devin Duvernay. Jackson took the ball on the first play and ran for 38 yards to set up another first-and-goal. Three plays later, the quarterback hit Duvernay for on a 6-yard touchdown pass at 4:41 of the third quarter and the Pats were down by eight, 28-20.

After two consecutive Baltimore touchdowns, it got even worse for the Patriots. At 4:09 of the third quarter, Jones threw an easy interception to Josh Bynes. The Ravens turned that into a 31-20 lead, thanks to a 56-yard field goal by Justin Tucker at 2:33 of the third quarter.

It looked like the Pats regained the momentum in the fourth quarter, but that’s when Jones threw his second interception. This came on a third-and-goal from the 10-yard line. Jones tossed a ball into the end zone that was easily picked off by Marlon Humphrey with 9:12 left on the clock.

Down 31-26 with 5:45 left, Jones hit Nelson Agholor for a 30-yard gain, but the receiver fumbled. Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters recovered.

To make it all worse, Jones’ last pass was an interception to Peters with 2:01 left. The Patriots quarterback appeared to have suffered a left leg injury on the play. Jones limped off the field and struggled to put weight on his left foot. He immediately went to the locker room and the team announced he was being evaluated for a leg injury.

DeVante Parker had a huge day

With Patriots leading receiver Jakobi Meyers out of Sunday’s games because of a knee injury, DeVante Parker stepped up. The veteran receiver came into this game with just one catch for nine yards, despite leading all Pats receivers in offensive snaps. That led to some criticism of Parker and   how he was being used.

On Sunday, Parker showed everyone he has the ability to be the Patriots No. 1 receiver. The 29-year-old finished with five catches for 156 yards.

Jones hit Parker for a 31-yard gain to kick off their first series. On the second drive, he caught a 40-yard pass. That set up a Nick Folk for a 36-yard field goal at 14:57 of the second quarter and the Pats trailed, 7-3.

Parker continued to torture the Ravens secondary in the second half. In the opening drive of the third quarter, the receiver hauled in a 36-yard toss to push the Patriots downfield. Three plays later, Parker caught a 25-yard  pass and managed to get both feet in bounds  down the sideline. That set the Pats up at the 2-yard line.

Two plays later, Damien Harris ran in from two yards out for a touchdown at 12:14 of the third quarter. That put the Pats in front, 20-14. The last reception put Parker over the 100-yard mark for the 12th time in his career.

In the third quarter, Parker hauled in a 24-yard pass. That drive ended with a Rhamondre Stevenson 1-yard touchdown run at 12:39 of the fourth quarter. The Pats trailed 31-26, after the 2-point conversions failed.

Lamar Jackson got the better of the Patriots

The Patriots defense had several players step up, but Jackson showed everyone why he’s an MVP candidate.

The defense had a great start on Sunday, holding Jackson and the Ravens to a three-and-out. Matthew Judon, a former Raven, started with a sack on the game’s first snap. Daniel Ekuale, back from a two-game suspension, batted down Jackson’s third-down passing attempt on that opening drive.

The group didn’t have the same luck on the second series as the Ravens took a 7-0 lead. The 11-play, 69-yard drive was all about Jackson and his tight end Mark Andrews, who caught four passes. Andrews caught back-to-back passes of 17 and 11 yards for first downs. Jackson also connected with fullback Patrick Ricard on a 12-yard pass. Then on third-and-1, Jackson threw a shuffle pass to Andrews, who scampered five yards for a touchdown at 4:09 of the first quarter.

As the game went on, Patriots defensive lineman Deatrich Wise shined. The first-year captain sacked Jackson three times in the first half. That tied his season total from a year ago. Wise has four sacks in three games this season. Sunday's game marked the first time a Patriot had three or more sacks in a game since Chandler Jones in 2015.

Patriots defensive back  Jonathan Jones celebrates a second-quarter interception.
Patriots defensive back Jonathan Jones celebrates a second-quarter interception.

The secondary also got in on the action. Cornerback Jonathan Jones intercepted Jackson at 8:24 of the second quarter. But in the end, Jackson was too good. He hit Andrews for a 16-yard touchdown pass with 30 seconds left in the half.

Jones stepped up again in the fourth, forcing a fumble by Rashod Bateman. Jabril Peppers recovered the ball with 12:39 remaining.

Jackson ended the game with a 9-yard touchdown run with 3:07 left on the clock to ice  the outcome for the Ravens.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Patriots' Mac Jones injured in loss to Ravens