BALTIMORE — Lamar Jackson is a scary man.
More scary even than a bunch of Boogeymen.
The Ravens quarterback broke the ankles and hearts of many New Englanders Sunday night, juking his club to a 37-20 win over the previously undefeated Patriots at M&T Bank Stadium.
Jackson rushed for 61 yards and passed for another 163, accounting for three total touchdowns and giving the Patriot defenders more than they could handle.
His ability to change speeds and directions with ease consistently froze and frustrated New England’s front seven — a group that had previously given nightmares to its opponents.
Jackson slept well last night.
“They had a good scheme,’’ said Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who noted the Ravens showed “a couple of [new] wrinkles here and there” to their offense. “Ultimately, they outplayed us, and we’ve got to go back to the drawing board.’’
As much damage as Jackson caused, the Patriots hurt themselves with some costly penalties that extended Ravens’ drives and some uncharacteristic mistakes that halted their own.
Driving to possibly take their first lead of the night on the first possession of the second half, Julian Edelman fumbled and it was returned 70 yards for a touchdown that extended Baltimore’s lead to 24-13.
Early in the fourth quarter and staring at a 30-20 deficit, Ben Watson couldn’t snag a deep seam pass from Brady and the quarterback threw a game-sealing interception on the next play.
“Not good enough,’’ said Watson. “When those things happen, it’s hard to beat a good football team.’’
New England also scored touchdowns on just 2 of 4 trips to the red zone.
“That hasn’t really been a strength of ours all year, so we have to figure out how to improve it,’’ said Brady, who threw for 285 yards and a touchdown but was hit 10 times.
The 8-1 Patriots head into their bye week with a bad taste in their mouths but also with time to examine their problems.
“When we come back from the bye week hopefully we’ve made those corrections and we’re a better team for it,’’ said running back Rex Burkhead.
The Patriots defense got its first real taste of adversity right out of the gates as Jackson powered back-to-back 11-play drives on Baltimore’s first two possessions to help his club to a 10-0 lead.
Jackson showed right away why he is such a difficult player to defend. The second-year quarterback used his arm, his legs, and a little sleight of hand to fuel the scoring marches.
While Jackson ran through he New England defense, Brady was running for his life. Brady didn’t complete his first pass until the second quarter, and he was under consistent pressure, especially from linebacker Matthew Judon, who landed four hits on the Patriots QB.
Jackson’s quick decisions and quick feet kept the Patriots’ defense on edge and a step behind all night.
On the Baltimore’s first drive, Jackson completed passes of 6, 26, and 7 yards to three different targets as he moved to the New England 6, where the drive halted — but only temporarily.
As Justin Tucker lined up for a 23-yard field goal, Shalique Calhoun spilled into the neutral zone — though it appeared long snapper Morgan Cox may have simulated the snap — giving Baltimore a first down.
Jackson made the penalty hurt on the very next snap, rolling left on a boot leg and literally swiping the ball across the goal line in a bit of showmanship.
New England’s first possession last just 13 seconds as Brady was harassed into three straight incompletions.
The Ravens went right back to work, with Jackson and Mark Ingram dancing through creases in the defense. New England’s defense again stiffened in the red zone, with Lawrence Guy dropping Jackson for a 1-yard sack on second down and Jackson throwing incomplete on third down.
Tucker nailed a 39-yard field goal to boost the home team to 10-0 lead.
New England’s next drive lasted just four plays before it was forced to give the ball back to the Ravens.
Ingram, who rushed for 97 yards in the first half, sparked the next drive, bowling through the heart of the defense for 53-yard run. Two plays later, Gus Edwards ran it in from 12 yards and the Ravens had a 17-0 lead.
The Patriots’ offense still couldn’t get on track but received a spark from old friend Cyrus Jones, who muffed a punt at the 20 and had it recovered by Justin Bethel (the Ravens’ old friend).
It took Brady four plays to capitalize, hitting Mohamed Sanu for 4-yard touchdown, his first as a Patriot, cutting the New England deficit to 17-7.
New England sliced into Baltimore’s lead again courtesy of another gift from the hosts. Ingram fumbled on second down at the Baltimore 19.
Nick Folk’s 22-yard field goal, his first in the red, white, and blue, made it 17-10.
The Patriots had a chance to tie it as the half closed but they couldn’t punch it in and had to settle for Folk’s 19-yarder that cut the Baltimore lead to 17-13 at the break.
The Patriots had the momentum to start the second half and drove to the Baltimore 30 when Edelman’s fumble was returned 70 yards for a touchdown by Marlon Humphrey.
“It put us in a hole,’’ said Edelman, who had 10 receptions for 89 yards. “Can’t turn the ball over against a team like that.’’
Brady and his troops proved resilient, however, picking up the tempo on the next drive and marching 75 yards on 11 plays, with James White cashing in from the 1-yard line to pull his club within 24-20 late in the third quarter.
But just as they started the game with two long drives, the Ravens finished it the same way, with Jackson engineering back-to-back clock-killing drives.