- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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This week's decisive moment in the AFC North started with an incomplete pass by the Baltimore Ravens.
Leading 17-10 over the New England Patriots early in the fourth quarter, Baltimore receiver Derrick Mason couldn't hold onto a pass in the end zone as Patriots safety Patrick Chung put on a big hit. The ball popped out and the Ravens settled for a field goal to go up by 10 points, when the lead could have been two touchdowns.
It turns out that was the last scoring opportunity Baltimore had the rest of the game, as the Ravens played conservatively to try to protect the lead in the fourth quarter. The result was New England scoring 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and overtime to take a 23-20 victory.
Mason's missed opportunity was somewhere in between a pass breakup by Chung and a drop. But Mason had made tough catches all game (and throughout his career), and a touchdown there probably would have been enough to close out the Patriots.
Executing in the fourth quarter of close games is often the difference between winning and losing, especially on the road. After playing well for three quarters, Baltimore was outplayed in the fourth and overtime. The Ravens will have to chalk it up as a learning experience.