FOXBORO, Mass., Nov. 28 -- The Baltimore Ravens' locker room was quiet following their 24-3 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday, as the players tried to quickly get out of their wet uniforms and get on their way home. There really was nothing else to do, following a humbling loss to the defending Super Bowl champions on a dark, windy and rainy evening.
"We weren't a good enough football team today to come in here and challenge a world champion," Baltimore Coach Brian Billick said. "It wasn't good enough. We have five weeks to get better and to improve to the point where we can come in here and play with a championship-caliber team."
Ray Lewis can't stop Corey Dillon from scoring on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium. Dillon finished with 123 yards on 30 carries as the defending champion Patriots improved to 10-1.
(Jessica Rinaldi -- Reuters)
Several Baltimore players talked about meeting the Patriots (10-1) again, but the loss put a bump in Baltimore's road to the playoffs. The Ravens (7-4) dropped three games behind Pittsburgh (10-1) in the AFC North, and they are battling the New York Jets (8-3) and the Denver Broncos (7-4) in the wild-card race. The Ravens' next two games are at home, against Cincinnati and the New York Giants, but then they have to travel to Indianapolis (8-3) and Pittsburgh.
"There are a lot of teams in the AFC playing good football," cornerback Gary Baxter said. "The margin of error is very slim for us. We've got to take care of business. I truly believe this team can do it, and we'll have to start next week."
Beating the Patriots at Gillette Stadium, where they had won their past 16 games, was never going to be an easy task for Baltimore, and it was made even more difficult by the miserable weather and the absence of Pro Bowl running back Jamal Lewis, who sat out with a sprained ankle. But the Ravens didn't use either one as an excuse.
Baltimore considers itself to be a Super Bowl contender, but it was dominated Sunday. The Ravens were held to a season-low 124 yards of total offense, and they made only one trip into the red zone -- and that was essentially by default, since the drive began at the New England 16. They were held to just 2.1 yards per offensive play. Backup running back Chester Taylor rushed for 61 yards on 16 carries in Lewis's place.
Second-year quarterback Kyle Boller, who had played well over the past four weeks, was 15 of 35 for 93 yards and finished with a passer rating of 38.4. He was intercepted in the first quarter by New England rookie Randall Gay, which ended a streak of consecutive passes without an interception at 123. He also fumbled for the sixth time this season (which is tied for most in the NFL), a miscue that resulted in New England's final touchdown.
"We obviously wanted to come in and put a lot of points on the board," Boller said. "This is just a temporary setback. We have to watch the tape and learn from it, move on. This isn't going to stop us. We're still going full ahead, trying to get better."
Boller's counterpart, New England quarterback Tom Brady, completed 15 of 30 attempts for 172 yards. Running back Corey Dillon had little success against the Ravens during his seven-year run with the Cincinnati Bengals (784 yards in 13 games, an average of 60.3 per game). With the Patriots, however, Dillon was more effective, and he finished with 123 yards on 30 carries.
Dillon did most of his damage in the first 16 minutes of the second half, rushing for 52 yards, including a one-yard touchdown run three seconds into the fourth quarter. Dillon also ran for a two-point conversion following that touchdown, which gave New England a 17-3 lead.
"He just kept getting outside," linebacker Ray Lewis said of Dillon. "We knew he would bounce around, but we have to do a better job of not letting him get outside. We like to make people play in the box. He's a great running back, but it's just another thing [where] we have to do what we do."
Boller was sacked on the first play following Dillon's touchdown (one of four New England sacks), a 10-yard loss that pushed the Ravens back to their 20-yard line. On the next play, Boller stumbled as he tried to avoid onrushing linebacker Mike Vrabel, and linebacker Tedy Bruschi grabbed him and punched the ball loose. Taylor tried to race back and grab the ball, but it squirted into the end zone, where defensive lineman Jarvis Green fell on it for a touchdown.
Neither team had much success on offense in the first half. The Patriots, as they did in their previous 15 games, scored first, this time on a 28-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri. The teams combined for as many punts (12) as first downs in the first 30 minutes.
With less than 70 seconds left in the half, the Patriots apparently thought that Baltimore would let them run the clock out when Brady took a knee on first and 10 from his 17. But Billick called a timeout, and that proved to be an important decision because it led to the Ravens' only score. New England was forced to run some plays, and after two short rushes by Dillon, the Patriots punted.
New England committed two major penalties -- a 15-yard face mask plus a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct -- on B.J. Sams's return, which gave the Ravens the ball on the Patriots 16 with 36 seconds remaining. Six plays later, Matt Stover converted a 22-yard field goal, and the teams headed out of the rain and into their locker rooms tied at 3.
Ravens Notes: Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap, who resumed practicing this past week, missed his ninth straight game with an injured ankle. . . . Starting right tackle Orlando Brown was a game-time scratch because of a sore knee, according to a team spokesman.