The Patriots lose another imperfectly heartbreaking close game. That marks three of New England’s four losses coming within a score. Now at 2-4, the Patriots are still in the playoff hunt as the bottom of the AFC continues to struggle. The Patriots currently sit at 11th in the AFC, a game behind the seventh spot.
Realistically, the Patriots can only afford to drop two or three more games in order to earn that wild card spot. The offense put up a season-high in points. The defense, on the other hand, gave up the team’s most yards since the Patriots played the Eagle in the 2018 Super Bowl. What else lead to a walk-off loss in Foxboro?
What Went Wrong For New England Patriots?
Mixing up the Offensive line
The Patriots are not good enough to bench their starters. Isaiah Wynn, fine, he is underperforming. Michael Onwenu, however, needs to be on the field at all times. He is one of the highest graded players on the Patriots and James Ferentz is a practice squad player. The Patriots were driving in the 1st half; Mac Jones hit Jakobi Meyers for his first receiving touchdown to take a 21-7 lead…only to have it called back to a James Ferentz holding call. The next play, Yodny Cajuste lets Mac Jones get pummeled for a strip sack leading to a field goal. 10 point swing right there.
The Patriots defense was on the field for a long time. They kept New England in the game most of the time, but the Cowboys were able to get everything they wanted moving the football. The Patriots defense allowed the most passing yards of any other team in the 1st quarter this season. CeeDee Lamb averaged 16.6 yards per catch, Dalton Schultz averaged 15.8. The biggest play came down to 3rd and 24 in the 4th quarter. The Patriots needed to hold Dallas to a 10-15 yard play and instead the team gave up a 23-yard completion. This gave Dallas enough yards to kick the game into overtime.
That makes two games this year where the Patriots have given up a blocked punt.
The Patriots punted on 4th and 4, 3, 2, and 1.
Two minutes left with a lead, run. the. ball.
What Went Right?
This week’s essentials list emphasized throwing the ball in the red-zone. The Patriots went 2-for-2 inside the 20, including a touchdown pass to Hunter Henry. That makes it three straight weeks with a red-zone touchdown pass to one of the tight ends. A good streak to keep going.
Defending the Run
The Patriots defense finally stopped the run against one of the league’s most dynamic backfield. Ezekiel Elliot was held to under 70 yards with only 4.1 yards per carry. Although the secondary got gashed, New England can build upon their rushing defense.
The Patriots “bend but don’t break” defense was on full display. The Patriots created two red-zone turnovers that kept the Patriots leading in the first half. Problem is, the Cowboys were in Patriots territory nearly every drive.
Losses in the 4th quarter or overtime come down to situational football. This week, the Patriots failed in situational football. When the Patriots had the lead and the ball with 2 minutes left in the game, they turned it over. When New England’s defense was gassed and worn, the Patriots punted on four 4th downs, all within four yards. These are plays New England cannot afford to leave on the field.
The Patriots will look for their first home win vs. the New York Jets next Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EST.
(Photo Ap/Michael Dwyer)