BALTIMORE — The New England Patriots’ unbeaten season crashed to an end under the weight of their own mistakes and inability to contain Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Jackson ripped apart the NFL’s stingiest defense with his arm and legs, accounting for three touchdowns and directing a dominant running game in a 37-20 victory Sunday night.
Baltimore (6-2) zipped to an early 17-0 lead and let the Patriots (8-1) creep within striking distance before quelling the comeback with a 70-yard fumble return by Marlon Humphrey and a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to Nick Boyle early in the fourth quarter.
That made it 30-20, and not even six-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady could bring New England out of the hole. Brady, who went 30 for 46 for 285 yards, threw an interception with 12:47 left.
Jackson then led a methodical 9 1/2-minute drive that ended with his thrust into the end zone from the 1, with no small assist to right tackle Orlando Brown Jr.
“I was hoping I was in. Orlando pulled me,” Jackson said. “I didn’t even know it was him until I got up. He was like, ‘I pulled you in. I need half of that touchdown.’ It was cool.”
Jackson, the slick second-year quarterback, ran for 61 yards and two touchdowns and went 17 for 23 for 163 yards and a score. Mark Ingram rushed for 115 yards, and the NFL’s leading ground attack amassed 210 yards.
“We played tonight like it was a championship game,” Jackson said after Baltimore’s fourth straight victory. “We’ve just got to keep going.”
New England mixed up its coverages and blitz packages, and the Ravens responded accordingly.
“Nobody does it better than they do, and I thought our guys handled it really well, starting with the quarterback,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.
The Patriots came in with a defense that had allowed only 7.6 points per game and forced 25 turnovers for a plus-17 differential. The defending Super Bowl champions picked up two fumbles, but they had two turnovers themselves and committed a costly penalty that contributed to Baltimore’s first touchdown.
New England was penalized seven times for 48 yards.
“We didn’t do anything well enough to deserve to win,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “We’ve all just got to do a better job.”
Baltimore’s defense played a role, too. Patrick Onwuasor stripped the ball from Julian Edelman in the third quarter and Humphrey took it the other way for a score. Although Brady answered with a touchdown of his own to make it 24-20, the Patriots would not get closer.
And so ended New England’s 13-game winning streak, dating to last season and including the playoffs.
“We did a lot of things (wrong) we need to do better,” Belichick said, his voice barely louder than a whisper.
The Ravens opened with a crisp 75-yard drive in which Jackson went 4 for 4 for 41 yards and New England extended the march with an uncharacteristic mistake. As Baltimore lined up for a field goal try, Shilique Calhoun jumped into the neutral zone to give the Ravens a first down.
On the next play, Jackson skirted around left end for an easy 3-yard score .
After Brady went three-and-out on his first series, Baltimore rattled off another 11-play drive and added a field goal.
The third time the Ravens got the ball, a 53-yard run by Ingram set up a 12-yard touchdown burst by Gus Edwards to make the score a stunning 17-0.
New England punted again, and what followed for Baltimore was a deflating miscue let the Patriots back into it. Cyrus Jones muffed the kick, former Raven Justin Bethel recovered at the Baltimore 20 and Brady tossed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu.
New England added two field goals in the final 4 minutes of the half, the first of them after Ingram lost a fumble at the Baltimore 19.
“Here they come roaring back and we make a couple mistakes,” Harbaugh noted. “They made some mistakes, too. It was that kind of a football game.”
New England fell to 8-2 vs. Ravens in regular season (Brady is 6-2). … Baltimore is 10-2 after a bye under Harbaugh, who took over in 2008. … Ravens are 68-24 at home under Harbaugh, including 21-4 in November. … Patriots rookie WR N’Keal Harry was inactive after coming off IR (ankle) and being added to 53-man roster Saturday.
Patriots: New England heads into a bye and will return in two weeks to face Philadelphia on the road in a rematch of the 2017 Super Bowl.
Ravens: Baltimore faces winless Cincinnati on the road next Sunday. The Ravens beat the Bengals 23-17 last month.