Foxborough M.A. – The New England Patriots lost in frustrating fashion on Sunday; The Denver Broncos came into Gillette Stadium and stole an 18-12 win. The Patriots entered the game with only two practices in the past two weeks and they looked noticeably sloppy. Turnovers crushed Cam Newton with two interceptions and a Ryan Izzo fumble.
Bill Belichick has made a name for himself as one of the best coaches in terms of preparation the league has ever seen. Game planning was a little tougher than usual this week, however. After a handful of positive COVID-19 tests caused the closing the Patriots facility for parts of the last two weeks, the Patriots turned in a product that their fanbase is not accustomed to seeing. The New England offense sputtered for the majority of the game. Newton failed to get much going in the air, and the ground game was mediocre at best. Josh McDaniels’ offense only managed three points in the first three quarters.
The defense had a solid outing all things considered. Despite being gashed on the ground for 135 yards, 101 of which came from Phillip Lindsay, the Patriots defense kept Denver out of the end zone entirely. Unfortunately, Broncos kicker Brandon McManus was perfect on the day with six field goals, including two from more than 50 yards.
New England seemed to be okay with allowing Denver to run the ball and holding them to just field goals. Keeping the team out of the end zone like the Patriots did could’ve been a winning game plan if the offense was able to get anything going on Sunday.
The offense’s struggles were apparent, and turnovers were the most glaring issue. The two interceptions Newton threw came on passes tipped at the line of scrimmage.
When asked about the interceptions, the former MVP said, “Collectively offensively we knew what the keys were, and we didn’t uphold our end of the bargain.”
Coaching is something rarely criticized in New England, but Belichick did have a few head-scratching moments on Sunday. Down 18-3 with 12:56 to go in the fourth, the Patriots faced third down and three to go. James White appeared to lunge forward for the first down but was spotted a full yard short. Belichick elected not to challenge the spot and punted.
When asked if there was ever a thought to challenge the ruling, Belichick was characteristically short-winded.
After a long glare, the Patriots head coach grumbled, “No. Not really.”
Following the punt, the Patriots defense held true once more. This time the offense marched down the field for a touchdown. The score put the game at 18-9 with 8:31 remaining. With an extra point making it an eight-point game, Belichick opted to go for two. The conversion failed and left the Patriots down two scores.
Belichick didn’t have much to say about the decision after the game.
“We thought it was the best thing to do at that point,” explained Belichick.
Two interceptions by JC Jackson and Jonathon Jones gave the Pats life late in the game. The first pick came when Jackson turned around in time to see an errant throw from Drew Lock and made the play. Jackson returned the ball to the Denver 25-yard line. The Patriots offense only mustered three points on the Jackson pick, however.
The second interception was an incredible play on a deep shot from Lock. Lock overthrew his receiver and the ball was tipped by Tim Patrick, but Jones made the adjustment and caught the ball.
Needing a touchdown, the Patriots offense pulled out all the stops. Julian Edelman completed two passes. One was a familiar double pass in which Newton passes to Edelman, who throws back across the field to James White. The second was a pass to Newton reminiscent of the “Philly Special” used against New England in Super Bowl LII. Despite the success of these gadget plays, the Patriots came up short when it mattered most. On fourth-and-10, Newton misfired a pass to an open N’Keal Harry.
“I was just trying to give [Harry] a chance,” noted Newton.
The Patriots will get another chance on Sunday afternoon. They’ll be at Gillette Stadium once again to face off against the San Francisco 49ers at 4:25 p.m. ET.