By Michael Hurley, CBS dangolka
FOXBORO (CBS) — We should start by stating what must be apparent: That was all-time low. It may possibly’t get a lot worse than that.
We perceive the explanations and the fact of that state of affairs, and we are able to really feel comfy saying that so long as the Patriots work in a apply or two earlier than their subsequent recreation, they’ll’t probably look as flat and uninspired as they did on Sunday vs. the Denver Broncos.
But even when we settle for that Sunday’s efficiency was as unhealthy as unhealthy will get, we nonetheless should alter the best way we view everything of the Patriots’ 2020 season. With a 2-Three document right here in the course of October, the climb to the postseason — not to mention a division title — simply received a complete lot steeper.
Previous to Sunday, the Patriots had roughly run via their schedule in accordance with plan. Wins over the Raiders and Dolphins, losses at Seattle and at Kansas Metropolis. That was principally anticipated.
A loss at house to the Broncos? That was not on anybody’s itinerary. It’s only one recreation, after all, however the ripple impact is such that the margin for error has narrowed significantly for Invoice Belichick’s workforce.
Subsequent week in opposition to the Niners, who immediately look competent once more? Can’t actually afford to drop that one and fall to 2-4, now are you able to? A Week 11 journey to Houston to face Deshaun Watson and the underwhelming Texans? Should be your greatest there. The double-dip in L.A.? You completely can’t afford to drop each.
And people two massive ones vs. the Payments? You’ll clearly want to brush them if you wish to even sniff the AFC East crown.
(All of that’s after all assuming two wins in opposition to the Jets and a loss to the Ravens.)
On the one hand, an sudden loss appears to occur yearly. True. However they usually don’t come in opposition to a workforce that had solely overwhelmed the putrid Jets previous to their arrival in Foxboro, they usually usually don’t put the workforce firmly within the lower-middle class of the NFL. Up to now, the sudden loss to an inferior opponent has been the distinction between the AFC’s prime seed and second seed. This 12 months, the stakes really feel a lot totally different.
Soccer seasons don’t ever play out in accordance with plan, however the street map to 9-7 simply grew to become rather a lot clearer than it was earlier than the Patriots blew a recreation in opposition to a foul Broncos workforce.
On the identical time, offered the Patriots are via the worst of their COVID issues (that’s an enormous assumption, after all), the workforce ought to be a lot better once we see them once more subsequent weekend in opposition to the 49ers. If not? Then you possibly can make certain that the phrases spoken concerning the Cam Newton-led Patriots will develop fairly grisly in a rush.
That’s the longer term, although. And earlier than we absolutely head there, we should confront the previous. So let’s hit the leftover ideas from the Broncos’ 18-12 win in Foxboro on Sunday.
–That is the flawed thought to have, possibly, as a result of sports activities don’t work this manner, but it’s all I can consider: THE NEW YORK JETS SCORED 28 POINTS AGAINST THIS SAME BRONCOS TEAM.
Ought to I say it once more? I believe I’ll say it once more.
THE NEW YORK (freaking) JETS SCORED 28 POINTS AGAINST THIS SAME BRONCOS TEAM.
Positive, certain. Six of these factors got here on a pick-six. OK. No matter. Nonetheless! You’ll have had COVID-19 hit your workforce onerous, and you’ll have had your already-thin offensive line lose the beginning proper deal with early, and you’ll have solely practiced for a couple of hours complete prior to now two weeks. Obtained it. Roger that.
However you’re nonetheless not the JETS, a bum workforce that used its third-string left deal with and is objectively horrible. THAT workforce scored 28 factors in opposition to the Broncos. The Patriots scored 12.
Clearly the transitive property doesn’t work in sports activities. Every recreation is its personal entity.
–By nearly each measure, the Patriots’ protection was not unhealthy. Holding an opponent out of the top zone for 60 minutes? Good. Stopping 10 out of 14 third downs? Additionally good. Holding the opposing QB to 10-of-24 passing? Actually good. Making not one however two picks within the fourth quarter to assist create a comeback probability? Wonderful. Actually.
Not a foul day, certain.
However there have been nonetheless some particular person performs that cumulatively felt like again breakers. That started when Jason McCourty received beat by Tim Patrick 1-on-1 up the correct sideline on the opening possession.
That pitch-and-catch from Drew Lock to Patrick accounted for 41 of the Broncos’ 48 yards on that area objective drive.
Patrick once more received a 1-on-1 battle later within the recreation up the correct sideline, this one coming in opposition to J.C. Jackson and going for 35 yards on a third-and-21.
Timmy Toe Faucet.
: CBS | @Tpstreets pic.twitter.com/GY1LRXqUDU
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) October 18, 2020
That turned what ought to have been a punt right into a area objective drive that sucked 9 minutes off the clock.
A 3rd-and-1, Denver by itself 18-yard line late within the first quarter: Royce Freeman runs for 11 yards. In a while that very same drive, a third-and-Eight on the New England 38: Kyle Dugger will get overwhelmed on a publish by Albert Okwuegbunam for a killer achieve of 27 yards.
That drive resulted in … sure, a area objective.
Given the entire positives that the stat sheet reveals, it’s very onerous to get on the protection an excessive amount of. These performs — the drive extenders — nonetheless stand out after a loss.
–Cam Newton was unhealthy, little question about it. On the identical time, it’s not precisely a setup to succeed when your left tackle-turned-left-guard will get smoked so soundly off the road:
Cam most likely ought to have pocketed that one at that time, however he most likely wasn’t anticipating a mammoth human being in his grill about 1.Three seconds after taking the snap. That’s a tricky method to decide up a notch within the INT column.
–Going to hit you with a constructive from this one, and it goes by the identify of Jonathan Jones. Right here’s a supercut of Jones breaking apart would-be touchdowns to Okwuegbunam. (Frankly I’m getting actually uninterested in Googling “broncos okwuedgugbabanemen” after which copying and pasting the corrected consequence. That identify is flat-out disrespectful to bozos reminiscent of myself.)
First drive of the sport:
Second Broncos drive:
Third quarter within the purple zone (WARNING: This play rocks):
Jones additionally had a ridiculously athletic interception. I hope folks perceive and respect how tough that catch was to make.
That’s evident each in video type:
Protection developing clutch within the fourth quarter!@Jonathan_Jones2 | #GoPats
: @NFLonCBS pic.twitter.com/AfXVgB0WZZ
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 18, 2020
And in nonetheless images:
Nice recreation for J. Jones, is what I’m saying.
–Damien Harris received the beginning at working again, and he received carries on the Patriots’ first two performs. That’s a constructive step for the second-year thriller again.
He completed the sport with simply 19 yards on six carries. That wasn’t essentially a constructive step. The tide rises, the tide falls.
–There wasn’t a lot to jot down house about from the attitude of the Patriots’ offense, however I actually appreciated this one play.
The protection has to respect the jet sweep to James White, and that hole between the D deal with and the defensive finish was wanting juicy as heck previous to the snap. A easy kickout block by the correct guard takes care of the one defender within the space, and it’s free cash from there.
That’s a very good one for Josh McDaniels to have in his again pocket going ahead.
–Is it a very good factor or a foul factor that Cam Newton is a more durable receiver than the workforce’s first-round draft decide on the place?
Good factor? Dangerous factor? Hey I’ll depart the evaluating to the evaluators.
Kidding apart, that play was legitimately superior. He adjusted to the throw, spun, made the catch whereas preserving momentum earlier than spinning freed from a deal with and staying upright whereas chopping up the sideline to maneuver the chains.
–That completion, plus one other go to White for 22 yards, made Edelman’s already-sterling passing stats even higher. Edelman is now 6-for-6 for 128 yards and a landing within the common season, and he’s 1-for-2 for 51 yards and a landing within the playoffs. (His lone incompletion got here throughout Tremendous Bowl LI.)
Tally it up, and he’s received a … 158.Three passer score. As in … good.
Hey, he was a quarterback in faculty. Maybe you’d heard.
–Rookie linebacker Anfernee Jennings made a REAL BIG STRONG MAN deal with late within the first quarter:
Jennings clearly didn’t let the pandemic forestall him from lifting weights this offseason.
And talking of excellent performs by younger Patriots defenders, try Chase Winovich’s recognition, pursuit, and end on this one:
That man is saving the milk business, one agency deal with at a time.
–Late within the first half, Edelman lastly made his first catch of the day:
Oh, hardy har har, humorous man!
–The Patriots’ final offensive play — an incompletion to N’Keal Harry — was after all no bueno. Cam says it’s his fault. He may simply be doing the great teammate state of affairs. It feels like Harry ought to have learn the protection and thus damaged to the surface on the prime of his route.
Cam erra o alvo e os @Broncos vão bater os @Patriots em New England! #BroncosCountry #NFLBrasil pic.twitter.com/O4cMWKTCou
— NFL Brasil (@NFLBrasil) October 18, 2020
As is commonly the case in these conditions, it was most likely somewhat little bit of each. It’s too unhealthy that the connection didn’t work, as Harry would have had the possibility to interrupt only one deal with and rating what may have been the game-winning landing. That’s gotta sting, so will probably be actually attention-grabbing to see how Newton and Harry come out subsequent week.
–It’s good to know The Cam Newton Guidelines are nonetheless in impact. These guidelines, after all, state that late hits or helmet-to-helmet hits within the pocket or violet clubbings of the top of the QB don’t end in flags, as a result of Cam Newton is a big particular person. It was a giant deal again in 2015 and 2016, when Newton was “not sufficiently old” to get calls based mostly on the rulebook. And based mostly on this clear late hit not drawing a penalty flag, the separate Cam guidelines are alive and effectively.
OK, CAM! @CameronNewton | #GoPats
: @NFLonCBS pic.twitter.com/b9FnyyfKVt
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 18, 2020
Cam had taken three steps out of bounds earlier than Kareem Jackson leaped into Newton’s again.
It didn’t even matter a lot, as a result of a private foul penalty on the 8-yard line is merely a 4-yard penalty. It mattered solely within the sense that the Newton Rulebook nonetheless lives.
–Matthew Slater: Wizard?
After he got here flying in on the punter however one way or the other prevented even a light-weight brushing … I’m simply asking the query.
I assume an actual wizard would have blocked it, scooped it, and scored it. By no means thoughts.
–I stated every part I must say about Brandon McManus on this tweet:
I assume while you kick like 40 area objectives in a recreation, accounting for 100% of your workforce's factors in a street win, you're allowed to do no matter you need. STILL, Brandon McManus was PUSHING IT along with his sauce degree for postgame media availability. pic.twitter.com/ii7HgPRQoa
— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) October 19, 2020
–We’ll finish with the place we began. If the Patriots lose subsequent weekend to the 49ers in what’s a really losable recreation? Boy howdy. Of us round right here haven’t seen something like that for the reason that 12 months 2000, when Invoice Belichick was flushing the system and laying the groundwork for his program.
As you’ve absolutely heard 11 million instances by now, the Patriots are at the moment below .500 in October for the primary time since 2002, once they have been 3-Four via Week 8. They’d win 5 of their subsequent six and salvage a 9-7 season, lacking out on the playoffs on a tiebreaker.
Primarily based on the overall look of the Patriots this season and based mostly on the problem of their schedule, an analogous result’s beginning to seem extra doable. A loss subsequent week may paint the image of one thing even worse.
That’s what’s on the road this week. No matter excuses and explanations could have been utilized to the Broncos’ loss, none will work subsequent weekend, when the ever-handsome James Richard Garoppolo returns to Foxboro, coming off his greatest efficiency of the season.
It’s a giant week developing in Foxboro, the likes of which no person has seen right here in a really very long time.
You’ll be able to e-mail Michael Hurley or discover him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.