|Boston Herald | Matt West|
It wasn’t all bad for the New England Patriots’ special teams Monday night, but a very short 1:33 in the third quarter almost proved costly, in the team’s 30-23 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football.
Let’s start with the good news.
Linebacker Shea McClellin spoiled Ravens kicker Justin Tucker’s perfect streak on the season after he leaped over the line to block a field goal. Tucker had made 34 previous field goals before that high-flying play.
Kicker Stephen Gostowski seemed to have his confidence back as he went four-for-four on the night in extra points, while punter Ryan Allen added 43.7 yards per punt. Two of his punts were downed near the goal line thanks to the help of cornerback Jonathan Jones.
Now, here comes the bad news.
A 23-3 game suddenly saw itself become 23-17 after two very uncharacteristic mishaps by the special teams.
Rookie cornerback Cyrus Jones hasn’t been off to a great start in his professional career, and Monday night’s performance shows his continued struggles. Jones kicked a punt near the goal line that gave Baltimore possession at the 3-yard line. The mistake resulted in a Ravens touchdown.
On the very next try, Matthew Slater fumbled the kickoff, which resulted in another touchdown for the Ravens.
“It’s obviously disappointing, especially from myself, being the leader of that group and not taking care of the football in a clutch situation,” Slater said of his costly turnover, “Down the stretch, we’re going to have to clean some of that up.”
The Patriots’ special teams are going to have to “clean some of that up” very soon as they have tough road game coming up next Sunday. New England will travel to take on the Denver Broncos on December 18.
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