Scott, who played seven seasons for the Ravens and became a Pro-Bowl linebacker, thinks his old team will be fired up to face the Patriots. Part of that intensity comes from the Ravens blowing a lead to lose 42-38 to the Pats’ AFC East rivals the Miami Dolphins in Week 2.
The collapse shone an unflattering light on the ongoing weaknesses in the Ravens’ secondary. Plenty of those defensive backs, including rookie safety Kyle Hamilton, will be keen to make amends this week.
Any extra jolt the Ravens need will come from facing what Scott calls a “formidable foe” who they have engaged in some titanic and controversial battles over the years.
Scott Speaks His Mind on Patriots
Speaking in his role as a pundit for ESPN, per Ravens Vault co-host Bobby Trosset, Scott said the Ravens and “that defense is gonna be out for retribution.” He also said the Patriots were the perfect opponent because “if there was a team with a punchable face, it would be the New England Patriots.”
Scott’s succinct and acid-laced jab at the Patriots is hardly a surprise. The team from New England has rarely been likely to win an NFL-wide popularity contest at any point during the last 20-plus years.
Part of any animosity towards the Pats is rooted in a certain amount of envy. Resentment for a team that’s appeared in nine Super Bowls and won six since Bill Belichick became head coach in 2000.
The familiar animus for the top dog has gained teeth because of the many cheating scandals during the Belichick era. Starting with the infamous ‘Spygate‘ in 2007, the Patriots have often been embroiled in controversy.
There was also ‘Deflategate‘ involving former quarterback Tom Brady and related to incidents from the Pats’ playoff run during the 2014 season. The Ravens were one of the victims of that run, but only after a highly fractious game in New England.
John Harbaugh’s Ravens built a 28-14 third-quarter lead in the Divisional playoffs, but the Patriots came back to win 35-31. The catalyst for their revival was a series of trick plays that involved putting eligible receivers where offensive linemen would usually line up.
Harbaugh was incensed, but the plays stood, even though the NFL later deemed the tactic illegal substitution. There was little sympathy from Brady and the Pats, according to Michael Silver of the San Francisco Chronicle:
That contentious postseason meeting was just one of many classic Patriots and Ravens encounters. The Ravens have usually been on the short end of the rivalry, posting a modest 4-11 record against the Patriots, according to StatMuse.
While they’ve lost many more than they’ve won, the Ravens have enjoyed some of the more significant victories in this series. Those victories include walloping the Patriots 33-14 on the road in the WildCard playoffs after the 2009 season.
Scott had already left for the New York Jets, but two more defensive studs were on the field when the Ravens hammered the Pats 23-14 in the AFC Championship Game two years later. One of those franchise greats has explained what Patriots week was like during his Ravens career.
Ed Reed Offers More Respectful Take on Facing Patriots
Speaking as a member of The 33rd Team, Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed explained why facing the Patriots often required a little more concentration and effort: “Brady and the Patriots, Belichick and all those guys at the time when I played, you had to give it a little bit more attention because they did more.”
Reed and his fellow Ravens Hall of Famer Ray Lewis had their memorable wars with the Patriots when Brady was under center. It’s a different story now Belichick is trying to win with Mac Jones.
The second-year signal-caller is efficient, but he also belongs more in the game-manager category. Jones can win if his running game and defense are on song the way they were against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2.
There’s no way Jones will win this week if he’s forced to try and keep pace with Ravens’ dual-threat sensation Lamar Jackson. The latter has thrown for six touchdowns and ran for another already this season.
Six touchdowns is what Tua Tagovailoa threw for the Dolphins against the Ravens’ sieve-like secondary. Belichick will try and scheme similar results from Jones, but for now, the most successful coach of the NFL’s Super Bowl era is content to praise the Ravens as a “model of consistency,” per NESN.com’s Zack Cox:
Harbaugh has been happy to return the “respect and admiration” in quotes reported by Jamison Hensley of ESPN:
It’s the kind of mutual love-in unlikely to find favor with Scott, who spent his career trying to put one over on the Patriots. Scott needn’t worry, though, because while there’s plenty of praise going round now, things usually turn nasty and intense when these two teams renew acquaintances on the field.