Patriots Week 15 Notebook: Self-Inflicting Wounds New England Can’t Afford to Open

New England Patriots

The Patriots haven’t lost a football game in two full months, however, Saturday night quickly turned back the clock. While New England caught fire late in the fourth against the Colts showing encouraging fight, the team made costly mistakes — mistakes that will always prompt a loss.

For the first three quarters of the game, nothing went right for New England. Penalties and turnovers are gonna decide the Patriots fate, plain and simple. New England was not ready to go coming out the gate and they got bullied for it. How did the hottest team in the NFL get extinguished coming off the bye?

What Went Wrong For New England Patriots?


Saturday night featured some of the worst penalties a Bill Belichick team has ever committed. That may be a tad dramatic, but it wasn’t about the number of penalties (8) it was about the situation where those penalties occurred. For instance, let’s look at the impact of each of the Patriots eight penalties.

  • Penalty #1: 14-yard gain on second-and-9 = took away first down
  • Penalty #2 (next play): Delay of Game = second-and-19 = punt two plays later
  • Penalty #3: 2nd and 1, false start on INDY’s 13-yard line = interception two plays later
  • Penalty #4: INDY Missed FG, offsides = INDY makes FG = three points
  • Penalty #5: Illegal block, led to second-and-20 = turnover on downs
  • Penalty #6 and #7: back-to-back coming out of the two minute warning
  • Penalty #8: fourth quarter, third-and-2, on INDY’s two-yard line, four down territory, false start, can’t run the ball anymore = field goal, potentially cost’s New England a touchdown

What does that mean? Essentially none of New England’s penalties were controversial. Those flags led to two punts, an interception, 3 points given up, turnover on downs, and costing a potential touchdown. Two instances of back-to-back penalties, four offensive penalties inside the red-zone, just awful.

Mac Jones’ First Three Quarters

0 points, two picks, Mac Jones struggled badly in his first 45 minutes. The first turnover was one of the rookie’s worst decision all year. While he had Hunter Henry open in the red-zone, Jones did not see Darius Leonard. Had Jones made the correct read, perhaps he could have made a better throw to Henry.

Red-zone interception in a two minute drill down two possessions is killer. What’s even more devastating? Throwing another interception to open the second half. The Patriots were down 17-0 with a chance to score back-to-back touchdowns to put the game within a field goal. The game was in Mac’s hands and the rookie came up empty.

Run Defense

226 yards rushing on 5.8 yards per carry allowed. Now, if New England took care of the football and played a disciplined game, the running game would not have been as much of a factor. But if Indy creates a two possession lead, that’s the ball game right there.

What Went Right?

The 4th Quarter

While this loss was very much deserved, the only positive is that the Patriots did not roll over. Although it was an ugly game filled with self inflicting wounds that cannot open up in the winter, New England responded. Scoring 17 unanswered points thanks to Hunter Henry and the defense finally picking off Carson Wentz. Mac Jones showed valuable resilience. It does not excuse Jones’ critical errors early on in the game, but the kid bounced back and that has been a consistent trait.

Losses like these hurt, but if Mac Jones and the New England Patriots are serious in this league, they’ll need to respond.

The Patriots will get that opportunity in Foxboro vs. the Bills in Week 16, on December 26th at 1:00 p.m. EST.

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