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Eric Weddle takes the blame for Ravens’ big mistake

Ravens safety Eric Weddle takes down Julian Edelman after a first-quarter reception.
Ravens safety Eric Weddle takes down Julian Edelman after a first-quarter reception.Jim Davis/Globe staff/Boston Globe

FOXBOROUGH — Baltimore coach John Harbaugh wouldn’t blame any one member of his defense for the play that cost his team the game, but safety Eric Weddle didn’t mind pointing the finger at himself.

Down 3 points halfway through the fourth quarter, the Ravens needed another stop. Despite losing two defensive backs — cornerback Jimmy Smith and nickel cornerback Jerraud Powers — the Ravens had allowed only one touchdown in the second half. The Patriots were struggling to move the ball. It felt like an upset was brewing at Gillette Stadium.

But when New England needed a big play, it got one.

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Ravens safety Lardarius Webb, forced to play out of position by moving down to nickel corner after Powers entered concussion protocol, lined up opposite New England wide receiver Chris Hogan. With no safety help over the top, Hogan took off down the field as Tom Brady faked a handoff. Webb slipped, Hogan grabbed a spiral from Brady out of the air, and took off down the middle of the field. His 79-yard reception put the Patriots up 10 points and essentially sealed the win.

After the game, Harbaugh said that he wouldn’t get into whose play it was to make, but Weddle made the miscue seem pretty clear.

“We played well, we just gave up a big play, myself making a mistake in a critical situation to lose the game, and that’s what happened,” Weddle said. “That was me. I should be there. I told everyone play-action was coming, and I move around so much that it hurt me on that play. It’s just unfortunate. You have a chance to win the game, and you give them a play like that.”

That the Ravens had a chance to win at that point was somewhat of a surprise. Baltimore’s defense, which came into Monday allowing a league-low 296.1 yards per game, gave up 289 yards to the Patriots by halftime. By the end, the Ravens allowed 496 total yards and relied on two special teams turnovers, plus Weddle’s end zone interception, to even keep the contest close.

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The Ravens defense, which was giving up just 17.3 points per game, was gashed for 30, while Brady threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns. The unit also allowed the Patriots to convert eight of their 16 third downs and gave up close to 8 yards per play.

Bill Belichick and the Patriots are now atop the AFC standings.
Bill Belichick and the Patriots are now atop the AFC standings.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

“I thought once we settled down and kind of got into the rhythm of things, we played well,” Weddle said. “A lot of the game, we did. But give up too many big plays like we did and it puts us in a position where we’re always playing catch-up.”

The Ravens seemed to miss Smith, one of their top defensive backs, after he went down with an ankle sprain in the first quarter, but Harbaugh said his absence wasn’t the reason his defense gave up so many yards.

“I don’t really chalk it up to anything,” he said. “Tom Brady does a great job, he obviously had a great night throwing the ball, and it was big plays. I chalk it up to big plays. Give them credit for making those plays. They did a good job executing.”

The Ravens also came into the game with the best run defense in the NFL, allowing 74 yards per game on the ground.

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While it wasn’t always pretty, the Patriots were able to run the ball when they needed to. LeGarrette Blount rushed for 72 yards and a touchdown, and the Patriots averaged close to 4 yards per carry.

Watch: Ben Volin and Nora Princiotti break down the Patriots’ win


Everett Cook can be reached at evcook4@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @everettcook.