FOXBOROUGH, MA – The New England Patriots were handed one of the worst losses in the Bill Belichick era by the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. The Patriots’ third straight loss was an outright disaster with the Niners cruising to a 33-6 victory. It’s hard to find anything the Patriots did well in this game. The defense was sieve-like, the offense was downright awful, and the coaching left much to be desired.
This loss was truly historic. The last time the Patriots had a three-game losing streak came 297 games ago in 2002 – the longest streak in NFL history. The margin of defeat marks another historic milestone. This 23-point loss is the largest home defeat Belichick has ever endured as Patriots head coach.
“We all need to do a better job. That’s obvious,” Belichick grunted postgame.
It was obvious from the opening drive the 49ers were the better team. Former Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo lead his team 75 yards down the field. A three-yard rushing TD from Jeffrey Wilson was the first opening-drive touchdown New England has allowed since 2016.
A Devin McCourty interception on an errant throw from Garoppolo gave his side a spark. Nick Folk kicked a field goal to make it 7-3; this was the last time the game felt this close.
San Francisco tore the Patriots defense to shreds with 16 second-quarter points. The Niners utilized an outside run game that was highly effective. The New England defense looked slow and small often getting gashed for long run plays. By the end of four quarters, the 49ers had amassed 197 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
Cam Newton had his worst day as a Patriot throwing three interceptions and only managing nine completions for 98 yards. With the game out of hand Newton was benched and Jarrett Stidham’s number was called. The second-year quarterback went 6-for-10 and threw an interception of his own.
Belichick delegated some of the blame to his coaching staff after the poor performances from his quarterbacks.
“We just need to coach it better. We need to execute it better,” he explained.
There is a massive difference in the Patriots passing game from before Newton missed the week four game at Kansas City game due to COVID-19. The issue on Sunday seemed to once again be Newton overlooking wide open receivers, holding on to the ball and then either forcing a pass or throwing it away. Time will tell if the Patriots coaching staff can help the one-time MVP regain his early-season form.
But time is a luxury the 2-4 Patriots don’t have. The Patriots will travel to Buffalo on Sunday to face the 5-2 Bills. If New England does not emerge with a win, any chance of winning the division could be lost.
PHOTO COURTESY OF STEVEN SENNE