Patriots-Ravens had something that’s been missing all season: competition

Dynamic Ravens QB Lamar Jackson kept the Patriots on their toes Sunday.
Dynamic Ravens QB Lamar Jackson kept the Patriots on their toes Sunday.jim davis/Globe Staff

Picked-up pieces in the shrinking daylight . . .

■   Sunday’s 37-20 loss to the Ravens was easily the most entertaining Patriots game of the season thus far. Sorry, but I find a game like this more enjoyable than yet another nauseating 60-minute network homage to the greatness of Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Bob Kraft, and New England’s Boogeyman defense.

Patriots-Ravens was still a 4-point game through three quarters. The Patriots had plenty of chances to come back and win it. Silly me, I find this more exciting than watching a 43-0 blowout at Miami, or seeing the Browns turn the ball over on three consecutive touches in the first half of a beatdown at Gillette. I like it when there’s some big-boy pushback from the other team, when the coach on the other sideline is not genuflecting at the Altar of Bill.


It’s called competition, and it’s what got most of us into sports in the first place. The contest: that crazy notion of anticipating a game and not being certain which team is going to win.

In the Patriots’ unparalleled two-decade run of success, the spirit of competition has been replaced around here by one of entitlement. Because there are so many bad teams, stupid coaches, and poorly run franchises, we go into each year assuming the Patriots will win the AFC East and gain home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Invariably, they wind up with a first-round playoff layup, then beat one good team at Gillette to qualify for the Super Bowl. That’s where it looked like we were headed before the Ravens game. Now, it’s Game On in the AFC. Something to watch. Something to root for.

Last year’s Super Bowl run was more fun because it was more challenging. The Patriots struggled early in the season and had to beat a good team on the road (Kansas City) to get to the Super Bowl. It was like the first years of this dynasty when the Patriots twice won AFC Championship games in Pittsburgh. Those were hard-earned, contested, and more fun.


Bring on the Eagles, Cowboys, Texans, and Chiefs — four teams with winning records (what a concept!). It’ll be so much more fun than crushing the Tomato Cans of the first eight weeks.

■   The weekend of July 25-26 next summer could be a biggie for Boston baseball fans. The Red Sox will be in New York City to play the Yankees. Meanwhile, the Hall of Fame will hold its induction ceremony, and there could be a few inductees/honorees with ties to Boston and the Red Sox.

Derek Jeter is a lock to be enshrined on his first time on the ballot, but Curt Schilling has his best chance yet to get the 75 percent of votes required. Here’s the New York Post’s inimitable Joel Sherman on Schill’s chances: “Most likely to join Jeter on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s ballot is his old nemesis and general embarrassment to the species Curt Schilling.’’

The BBWAA voting results will be announced in January. On Dec. 8, we will find out whether Dwight Evans passes the audition with the “Modern Era” panel at the Winter Meetings in San Diego. Dewey is one of 10 candidates on the Modern Era ballot. Others include Marvin Miller and Tommy John.


Meanwhile, three of the eight candidates for the coveted Ford C. Frick broadcaster’s award have Boston roots: Joe Castiglione, Ken Harrelson, and Ned Martin (“Mercy!”). The late Nick Cafardo is one of three finalists for the J.G. Taylor Spink Award presented for contributions to baseball writing. The Frick and Spink winners will be announced at the December meetings.

■   Baseball is not as bad off as you might think. It simply has morphed into a regional sport more than a national pastime. Ratings for MLB’s big events (World Series, All-Star Game) shrink almost every year, but many of the local markets remain strong and lucrative.

The New York Times reports that, according to Nielsen ratings, 12 of the 29 US-based major league teams were the most popular prime-time broadcast in their market. On cable, 24 big league teams ranked first in their market in prime time.

■   Has any team other than the 2019 Red Sox had three hitters bat .300 with 30 homers and 100 RBIs (J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts) and not made the playoffs?

■   QUIZ: Cuban-born Yuli Gurriel homered in the Astros’ Game 7 loss to the Nationals. Name the last Cuban-born player to homer in a World Series Game 7. (Answer below.)

■   Favorite story about Red Sox baseball boss Chaim Bloom: When Don Zimmer served as a senior adviser with the Tampa Bay Rays, Bloom would watch games in the clubhouse with Zim, the late, great baseball lifer who died in 2014.


■   Scott Boras had nine players in this year’s World Series, including Jose Altuve and Juan Soto. He also has free agents Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, and Anthony Rendon.

Stephen Strasburg won twice in the World Series and was named MVP.
Stephen Strasburg won twice in the World Series and was named MVP.tony sandys/Washington Post

■   New York’s Nassau County has a three-year-old policy designed to prevent blowouts in high school football games, and last week a coach in Plainedge was suspended after he did not pull starters in a 61-13 victory over South Side. According to officials, if a team wins by more than 42 points, the winning coach has to explain why he or she could not avoid the carnage (I’d call it the Auriemma Rule).

In Belichickian fashion, the Plainedge coach told a committee that he did not pull his starters because he was concerned South might mount a comeback from a 35-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter.

■   Weak sauce: Belichick getting asked (postgame Sunday) if he could be more specific regarding how he needed to coach better and answering, “It’s obvious. Did you see the game tonight?’’

■   Harold Reynolds played high school basketball against Danny Ainge when both were teenagers in Oregon.

■   Try naming the worst NFL coach. It’s like trying to identify the worst member of the presidential cabinet. Cleveland’s Freddie Kitchens and Chicago’s Matt Nagy are my front-runners.

■   Has Ed Davis cracked the case in the Dominican Republic yet?

■   I don’t know about you, but I find it troubling that the new Red Sox assistant hitting coach never played above A ball. Another win for the geeks.


■   The Jackie Bradley Jr. Love Society must be in mourning after JBJ was snubbed again in Gold Glove voting. I mean, if you’re going to be considered untradeable despite hitting .225 with 155 strikeouts, can you at least win the Gold Glove?

■   Sunday’s joust between the winless Dolphins and the 1-6 Jets reminded me of the 1981 season-finale “Stupor Bowl” pitting the 2-13 Patriots vs. the 1-14 Colts at Baltimore. Ron Erhardt’s Patriots lost, 23-21, in front of 17,073 at Memorial Stadium. The Stupor Bowl loss earned the Patriots the No. 1 pick, and they wasted it on Ken “Gameday” Sims,’’ a Texas lineman who only wanted to play hard on Sundays.

■   Veteran Globe scribe Marvin Pave delivered a spectacular obituary for longtime Bruins defenseman Ted Green in Sunday’s Globe. Green’s former teammate Ed Westfall recounted the moments in an Ottawa hospital in 1969 when it was feared Green might die after engaging in a stick fight with Wayne Maki. Green did not play that season, but when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, teammates made sure his name was engraved on the chalice.

■   Steve Belichick almost got more TV airtime than Brady Sunday night.

■   UMass’s football team is 1-8, allowing 52 points per game. The Minutemen were beaten at home by Liberty, 63-21, Saturday. What can taxpayers do to make this stop?

■   There’s still time to get tickets for The Tradition at the Garden Nov. 20. Matt Light, Paul Silas, Ben Crenshaw, Zdeno Chara, Michelle Kwan, and Manny Ramirez are the honorees. For tickets and information, visit sportsmuseum.org.

■   Quiz answer: Tony Perez famously homered off Bill Lee’s eephus pitch in Game 7 of the 1975 World Series.

Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com