BALTIMORE -- After rewatching the television copy of the Patriots' 31-30 loss to the Ravens, some final thoughts:
Officiating and Bill Belichick's reaction. Can't think of another game attended over the last 15 years that was as poorly officiated at this one. It's not the fault of the replacement officials, as they've been put in an incredibly difficult situation. At the same time, one can understand the frustration of Bill Belichick and other coaches. They put a lot into this and to have it unfold like that has to be maddening. Some of the stuff they were calling Sunday night just didn't exist or was simply within the rules (e.g. Jerod Mayo's 2-yard pass interference penalty within the 5-yard zone in which defenders can make contact.) It happened on both sides. It's not the reason the Patriots lost and Belichick should have never put his hands on an official. This doesn't excuse his actions, but this was about as poor as it gets -- for both teams.
McCourty's up-and-down night. Wasn't as down on cornerback Devin McCourty as others because he made some plays to somewhat offset the three that stood out on the negative side -- the pass interference penalty on the final drive, poor tackle attempt on Dennis Pitta's second-quarter touchdown catch after teammate Steve Gregory went low and missed, and losing leverage on Torrey Smith's 32-yard catch-and-run early in the third quarter. Yes, he should have come down with a fourth-quarter interception as well, a play he was in position to make because of solid technique and coverage. His overall coverage was competitive for most of the game.
No pressure from four-man rush. The Patriots didn't blitz often, and part of the reason Joe Flacco had as much time as he did was because starting ends Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich were neutralized by left tackle Michael Oher and right tackle Kelechi Osemele. The Ravens also did a nice job chipping the ends with running back Ray Rice and fullback Vontae Leach.
Vollmer goes wire-to-wire at right tackle. After being part of a rotation at right tackle in the first two weeks of the season, Sebastian Vollmer played the entire game. For an offensive line that is still coming together, that's a step in the right direction.