One good thing about the Patriots is that they play entertaining 4th quarters. One bad thing about the Patriots is that they play entertaining 4th quarters.
At some point this team MUST learn how to close. The difference between good teams and great teams is the ability to close games when you're ahead, and occasionally steal them when you're behind.
If NFL games were 3 quarters long, the Patriots would be 5-1-1 (tied with Buffalo 21-21 after 3 quarters). Not only that, they would've beaten Tennessee by 18, Denver by 17, Seattle by 10, and New York by 10. In 7 games, the Pats have "won" only three 4th quarters. They've been outscored 4 out of 7 games in the 4th.
The Patriots didn't make game-deciding plays until very late in this game. They didn't make game-changing plays either. They dropped passes, didn't take advantage of the safety, didn't take advantage of Alfonzo Dennard's INT, or a facemask penalty on a punt. The Jets gave the Patriots chances to put them away, and the Pats refused. Instead they tried flea-flickers, and that shit needs to stop right fucking now, Josh.
This lack of opportunism is an alarming trend.
Even more disturbing is a realization I had while watching this game: the success or failure of the Patriots depends on Devin McCourty more than anyone else.
That's a scary thought, but it's true. Look at this game. McCourty returns a kickoff and the Patriots look strong. He fumbles a kickoff and the Jets almost win. His blown coverages and pass interference penalties have punctuated game-winning drives for opponents. And his interceptions have sealed victories for the Patriots.
McCourty has had much more influence over the outcome of games than an inconsistent 3rd year defensive back should have. Other players need to step up and take more control of the game.
On the bright side, a win is a win. And Alfonzo Dennard looks very good for a rookie. The Pats ultimately made enough plays to win. The Jets clearly suck. There are some things to be optimistic about.
One request, though... Football stadiums should play "Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats whenever there's a safety. Everybody would love it. All the fans would dance and if they don't dance well they're no fans of mine.
Patriots play the Rams in London next Sunday.