History’s shown us to never point and laugh at a struggling New England Patriots team and to NEVER make remarks like “they’re done, they’re in trouble, the season’s over, end of an era.” When we say those kind of things out loud it only leads to bad things, well good actually that is if you’re the New England Patriots. Go back to last season when the Patriots were 2-2, and got destroyed by the Kansas City Chiefs. Tom Brady had one of the worst games of his career that night, throwing for only 159 yards, two interceptions, a QB Rating of 22.2, a RTG of 59.9, only 1 touchdown, and let’s not forget he was benched towards the end of the game for 2nd string quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo. The loss looked like the end of an era for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. But, like I said the Patriots seem to perform better when the rest of the world’s against them and after that win they went on a seven game win streak, had the best record in the AFC, and we all know what happened after that. But is it the same thing this year? Two weeks ago the Patriots were one of two unbeaten teams, were eying another perfect regular season, and were feeling good. Now, they’ve taken two steamy losses to two teams that they were very capable of beating. Two losses, and suddenly their not the number one seed in the AFC, not a lock for division winners, and not relevant anymore. But signs of life from injured star receivers Julian Edelman, and Rob Gronkowski are coming into play, and it seems as if this two game losing streak might be something we all laugh about in a few months after the Patriots win their fifth franchise Super Bowl.
Who’s to blame for this two game dip though? Is Brady showing sudden hints of aging? Is the offensive line cracking up? Are they having too many key players getting injured yet again? Well in my opinion it’s actually none of the above! It’s the little things that seem to be hurting the Patriots the most.
When you look at some of the biggest recent blunders for this team, look no further than their struggling defense, and the atrocious play on special teams. The losses against the Broncos, and the Eagles could’ve easily been wins if certain plays were made, certain calls were gave, and most importantly everyone just did their job. Let’s take a look further in what I mean by that.
Well, dating back to the Denver game, there were countless mistakes made, but one that stands out to me that cost the Patriots crucially happened early in the fourth quarter. I’m of course talking about the punt-return fumble miscue made by Chris Harper.
With the fourth quarter just starting, the Patriots had a comfortable 21-7 lead, when wide receiver Chris Harper does this : http://www.nfl.com/big-play-highlights/2015/REG/12?gameId=2015112911
Following the costly blooper, the Broncos offense had excellent field position, which set them up for this : http://www.nfl.com/big-play-highlights/2015/REG/12?gameId=2015112911
This foolish play by Harper set the Denver offense up for an easy six points, and I believe it was also this play that gave the Broncos the momentum for the rest of the game. Now it’s not like this play is the sole reason why New England lost, but if it didn’t happen, you can make a case that New England most likely would’ve went on to win the game. Now let’s take a look at some huge mistakes made by the Pats in the week 13 Eagles game.
Lot’s of slips made in this game for the Patriots, so you might as well just watch this video here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxPqxXQDV1g
Ok, so clearly TONS of mistakes made by the Patriots in this game, but for now let’s focus mainly on just the special teams flubs.
Sometimes we forget just how important a special teams crew is, and how much of a difference it can make in a game, but I think this game reminded us as to why they turn games around.
Mistakes the Patriots special teams made in the week 13 affair with the Eagles :
- Gutsy onside kick call by Belichick — leads to Philadelphia TD.
- Blocked Punt return for a TD — tied at 14 apiece.
- Darren Sproles returns Punt for TD — Eagles score 28 unanswered points.
3 Special team mistakes that were costly for the Pats against Philadelphia. And if you add in the missed pass interference calls, Brandon LaFell‘s poor route running, his and other receivers dropped balls, this game goes down as something like 27-13, Pats win, and I’m not writing this piece. If Belichick doesn’t call that foolish onside kick, special team players do their job and make a timely block to let their Pro Bowl Punter, Ryan Allen get the ball down the field, and if just someone, anyone makes a tackle on Darren Sproles, New England doesn’t lose the game regardless of who’s injured.
I know there’s always gonna be moments in Sports where you say “if this didn’t happen, then this would’ve been the outcome..” Yeah, yeah I totally get it, we know how it works. It only takes one mistake to turn a blowout win into a crushing defeat. That’s sports, and hey, matter of fact that’s just life as well.
Last week I was thinking about it, and it seems like every year the Patriots have some kind of slogan for the season, last year of course being “Do Your Job.” I thought about this years, and I thought something like “Next man up” would be fitting, but then I realized that “Do Your Job.” would work just as well again! If everyone just does what they have to do, there’s not another team on the planet that can beat them.
Usually the Patriots are pretty good about losing two games, considering the fact that the last time they lost three games back to back to back was thirteen years ago, 2002. The only time in Brady’s career he’s ever lost three games in a row. Bottomline, I expect the Pats to be okay again, and these two games were just minor hiccups in the season, and if anything, were learning lessons for the team. One quote I like to live by is, “Sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.” Pretty fitting eh? I think these past two weeks have been huge learning experiences for the 2015 New England Patriots.
Alex Berger says Thanks again for reading one of his mediocre articles, and he apologizes for using the word mistake so many times. He wants to remind you that he’s on Twitter, and would greatly appreciate your follow : Follow Alex Berger on Twitter! He’d also like to remind you he’s a die hard Patriots fan, so these’s past two weeks haven’t been the easiest on him.