We should have known this type of game was possible. In the past we've seen the Patriots' offense fail to do enough to carry the team to victory. But Sunday afternoon they did NOTHING to help win the game. The defense played well enough for the team to win. The offense didn't. The offense lost the game.
The Patriots haven't been held to 6 points since 1996. That meaningless touchdown streak Brady had came to an end. The Pats were 1 for 12 on 3rd down. Brady threw 20 incompletions compared with 18 completions. The best non-defensive performers on the team were Stephen Gostkowski and punter Ryan Allen.
And I'm primarily going to blame Tom Brady. He just doesn't look sharp. Every catch seems difficult, miraculous at times. On Sunday he overthrew, underthrew, and completely missed receivers. There were occasions when Dobson didn't run the route that Brady expected, there were also occasions when Brady was horribly inaccurate when throwing downfield, especially in the middle of the field. Even when he and the receivers connect, the catches are hard and off-stride.
Smaller portions of blame go to Danny Amendola, who had a big drop in the 4th quarter (he's looking more and more like Wes Welker). Brandon Bolden dropped a few passes. LeGarrette Blount fumbled. Let's not forget all of that.
I'll also blame the play-calling. The wide receivers still don't seem to be on the same page with Brady. So maybe it's time to go with a simpler page. Especially in the 4th quarter when you're down by a score. I don't remember the offensive playbook being so complex when the Patriots didn't have Pro Bowlers running routes, back from 2001 to 2006. Maybe going back to basics wouldn't be such a bad thing.
And the Red Zone play-calling irritated me more than anything. A token jumbo package run that failed. By the way, I've been told that Blount isn't a very good short yardage back, despite his bulk. I believe that. The Pats then went from simple play to cute trickery, throwing a pass to Nate Solder. Why? The 3rd down play was a good call, it just didn't work. I would have liked to see the Patriots try that on 2nd down, then again on 3rd if it failed.
On the bright side, the defense continues to play well. They pressured Dalton, and sacked him at key times. They held Green, Gresham, and Eifert to 138 combined yards, which isn't bad at all. And they were a 4th down stop away from bringing this game into overtime, despite how Godawful the offense was playing. The defense gave Brady so many chances for a game-winning drive. Brady and the offense failed to deliver.
The Patriots host the Saints next weekend. That's kind of a big game. But as we've seen between the Pats win over Atlanta, and now their loss to Cincinnati, you're only as good as you play each week. So don't panic about this loss, and don't develop an anxiety disorder if the Saints come to town and win (and don't plan a Super Bowl trip if the Pats win). This is a week to week spot, take it one week at a time.
Marc Lebryk - USA Today