Joe Flacco(notes) 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 lost left tackle Jared Gaither(notes) after a collision that put him on his back for about 10 minutes before he was taken off the field on a stretcher midway through the second quarter. X-rays at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he had tests on his neck and shoulder, were negative.
“We knew it wasn’t serious,” Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. “We’ll see how long he’ll be out.”
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(notes) to Randy Moss(notes) and a 1-yard touchdown sneak by the quarterback.
“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.
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(notes) 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 as they kept their unbeaten record against the Ravens with their fifth win.
Trailing 17-7 at halftime, the Ravens made it 17-14 when Terrell Suggs(notes) hit Brady for a sack and knocked the ball out of his right hand. Dwan Edwards(notes) recovered in the end zone for a touchdown with 6:19 left in the third quarter.
“We kind of had control of the game and then Suggs turned it around,” Belichick said.
But Brady led the Patriots on their next possession, a 79-yard drive ending with his 14-yard touchdown pass to Moss.
Moss caught 23 scoring passes in 2007, his first season with Brady, who was sidelined for all of last season except for the first half of the first quarter of the opener.
Flacco then led the Ravens on a 15-play, 81-yard drive capped by a 20-yard scoring pass to Mason, who had six catches for 77 yards on the series.
The Patriots went ahead 10-7 on the next series with a 1-yard sneak by Brady.
The Patriots made it 17-7 with 3:57 left in the half on Morris’ 12-yard run.
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.”
Notes: Brady completed 21 of 32 passes for 258 yards, one TD and no interceptions. Flacco went 27 for 47 for 264 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. … Moss’ touchdown was his 137th, breaking a tie with Marshall Faulk(notes) and moving into sixth place in NFL history. … Suggs set a club record with 437 sack yards on the sack that resulted in a touchdown. … Baltimore held its 39th straight opponent without a 100-yard rusher, the longest current streak in the NFL. … Patriots WR Wes Welker(notes) returned after missing two games with a knee injury and had five catches.