FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Mark Clayton got open and waited for the fourth-down pass that could keep the Ravens’ chances alive.
Joe Flacco reached his target inside the Patriots 10-yard line and beyond the first-down marker, but Clayton didn’t hold on with 28 seconds left. New England did – eking out a 27-21 win over Baltimore on Sunday.
“Flat out drop,” Clayton said. “It was a perfect ball. Joe put it on the money. To not come up with it is tough. It cost us the game.”
The Ravens failed on another fourth-down play on their next-to-last series as they tried to overcome the first scoring pass of the season from Tom Brady to Randy Moss and a 1-yard touchdown sneak by the quarterback.
On that fourth-and-1 at the Ravens 45-yard line, Warren stopped Willis McGahee for no gain with 5:09 remaining.
“That was quite a finish,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “Stop them on fourth down twice in the fourth quarter, that’s when you’ve got to be there. Luckily, we were.”
But Ravens players thought McGahee had made the first down.
“The spots were terrible,” Baltimore safety Ed Reed said.
Moss’ touchdown made it 24-14 late in the third quarter, but Flacco’s 13-yard scoring pass to McGahee cut that to 24-21. Stephen Gostkowski’s 33-yard field goal gave the Patriots (3-1) a six-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.
After McGahee came up short, the Patriots punted and the Ravens (3-1) got the ball back with 5:09 left then moved to a fourth-and-4 at the 14.
The game was decided when Clayton dropped the ball and the Patriots ran out the clock, keeping their unbeaten record against the Ravens with their fifth win.
Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis complained about rushing the passer penalties that helped the drives on which Brady and Morris scored.
“Without totally going off the wall here, it is embarrassing to the game,” Lewis said. “Brady is good enough to make his own plays, let him make the play.”
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