After the Patriots blew most of a 20-point lead with two special teams flubs, Tom Brady hit a wide-open Chris Hogan with a 79-yard touchdown bomb with 6:18 remaining as New England escaped with a 30-23 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Monday.
Brady’s second touchdown pass of the game was also the 450th of his NFL career, making him the fourth player to hit that mark.
New England led 23-3 in the third quarter before rookie Cyrus Jones had a bouncing punt hit off his foot for a fumble and Matthew Slater dropped a kickoff that allowed Joe Flacco to throw a pair of short touchdown passes.
Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker’s 38-yard field goal then made it 23-20 before Brady came through.
Flacco took his team to another Tucker field goal (Tucker had one blocked in the first half) with 2:03 left. However, New England’s Patrick Chung recovered the onside kick and the Patriots (11-2) were able to run out the clock.
The Ravens (7-6) dropped a game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North.
Brady, 8-1 since returning from his ‘Deflategate’ suspension, went 25-of-38 for 406 yards, the 76th time Brady has cleared 300 and the ninth time he threw for 400 in a game.
He had three touchdown passes and his second interception of the season.
LeGarrette Blount (72 yards on 18 carries) tied the club record with his 14th rushing touchdown and also went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the second time in his career. He is the Patriots’ first 1,000-yard rusher since 2012.
New England’s Julian Edelman caught seven passes and Hogan five, the latter finishing with 129 yards for his second career 100-yard game.
New England outgained Baltimore 496 yards to 348.
Flacco completed a franchise-record 37 passes — many of them less than five yards — in 52 attempts for 324 yards. He was picked off once.
The New England special teams provided the early story, forcing the Ravens into an eventual safety and blocking a field goal.
Ryan Allen’s punt was kept out of the end zone by Jonathan Jones and downed by Slater at the one. On the first play, Kenneth Dixon was swallowed up by Malcolm Brown for a safety and it was 2-0.
Later in the quarter, the Ravens lined up for a 34-yard Tucker field goal but Shea McClellin hurdled snapper Morgan Cox and easily blocked the kick.
Blount ran for a score and Mitchell caught his fourth touchdown pass in four games to make it 16-0 but Brady’s interception throw into the end zone kept things from getting totally out of hand.
It got a bit closer when Tucker nailed a 50-yard field goal with 11 seconds left in the half.
(Editing by John O’Brien)