Well that was quite an ugly two plus quarters of Patriots football. Now we don’t say it much but during the end of the second quarter, all of the third, and about half of the fourth quarter, our Patriots and Tom Brady looked mortal.
First thing is, I’m sick and tired of hearing all of the excuses. Yeah I agree with most of them, maybe a missed penalty (perhaps the right tackle false start on the game clinching first down by Philadelphia), an inadvertent whistle or even injuries. But whining about what could have been or what should have been is not going to change the score at the end of four quarters. People saying that the game meant nothing and the Pats still almost won without some key guys, new flash that loss bumped New England out of home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and a first round bye. With all or that being said, Brady almost DRAGGED the entire landmass of New England over his shoulder to victory after some special teams mishaps but the keyword there is almost.
The Patriots offense was very “hit or miss” on Sunday, when they were firing on all cylinders it was fun to watch but the lows were miserable. Danny Amendola and Scott Chandler proved that they are capable and ready to step up in the meantime in place of Edelman and Gronk respectively. LaFell showed us that he can stretch the field but does have spotty hands at times, and sometimes he likes to stop running when Brady releases a 60 yard bomb that looked as though could’ve broken the stat-sheets with its accuracy. Keshawn Martin impressed throughout the game but when it mattered on fourth down, his name was called and he couldn’t “Do His Job” (see what I did there). James White played very well since he was thrust into a full-time passing down back role once the Patriots fell down 21 points. All in all, the offense almost pulled this one out but on the final three plays, Brady threw three catchable balls and all three were dropped. Gisele said is best, “My husband can not *expletive* throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time”. Now I don’t mean to disagree with the First Lady but contrary to popular belief
For the record, I loved that entire play. Arguably an Oscar performance by TB12. I’m not going to talk about the following play, we’re trying to focus on the positives here. But enough on the offense, either way when you put up 28 points against a 4-7 football team at home, you should win.
The run defense was not the best to put it lightly, three members of the Eagles’ backfield shared 128 yards on the ground. At times it looked as though the Patriots front-seven forgot the fundamentals of tackling but three entirely different running styles with Murray, Sproles, and Barner can do that to a defense. The secondary was inconsistent, at times Butler looked like he was a lock-down corner but he seems to get a DPI called against him at least once every game. McCourty got fooled badly by Zach Ertz in the redzone but as a unit the only surrendered 120 yards through the air with 2 passing TDs.
Where do I start really? The indecisiveness by the Patriots offense to end the first half led to a blocked punt and eventually led to seven points with the extra point for the City of Brotherly Love. Special Teams Pro-Bowler Matthew Slater went down during the game as the injuries keep piling up for New England. Sproles returned a punt return 83 yards for another seven points with the extra point. People on Twitter kept complaining about the Special Teams but in their defense, they did recover a pivotal onside kick to extend the game. It’s not often when you can say a team attempted three onside kicks in one game, but that was case last night. The first onside kick I didn’t really get, obviously if it worked it would’ve basically ended the game for Philadelphia which is how the FOX announcers saw it. But basically it was a sign of confidence that backfired in the long run.
To paraphrase a famous speech by Al Pacino from the film Any Given Sunday. Since football is a game of inches, no matter how confident you are you can’t gift inches to the other team because at the end of the game when you add up all the inches, that is what will make the difference. And those inches made the difference for the Philadelphia Eagles last night.
Don’t get used to the continuation of struggles for the Patriots, they look towards the future and no matter what type of success they have, the remain focused on what is coming. Brady has said every year he plans to end his season after the Super Bowl and until that changes otherwise, they keep working. This team is still the Patriots we know and love and although they’ve been knocked down the last few rounds, don’t expect them to through in the towel. Their battle is just getting started and they expect to go the full twelve rounds.
P.S.- Deion Branch being an honorary captain against the team which he won his Super Bowl MVP was a underrated move by whoever made that call for the Pats.
Article Picture from espn.go.com