The Patriots entered Sunday’s game at Seattle with one of the more opportunistic red-zone offenses in the league.
But in Sunday’s 24-23 loss to the Seahawks, the Patriots scored just one touchdown in six trips to the red zone, which offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said was “not good enough’’ on a conference call Monday.
“We were down there six times and didn’t score enough,’’ McDaniels said. “That’s obviously an area that we can do better in and we have to do better in and get better in quickly. If we get the opportunity, with six chances down there to score touchdowns and only come away with one, [then] certainly that’s not good enough.’’
The Patriots scored on their first trip into the red zone, with Tom Brady completing a 1-yard TD pass to tight end Aaron Hernandez in the second quarter for a 14-10 lead.
But in their five subsequent trips inside the Seattle 20 they came away with only three field goals by Stephen Gostkowski, one of 25 yards and a pair from 35 yards out.
Brady was whistled for intentional grounding on a third-and-goal pass attempt from the Seattle 3 that cost the Patriots a prime scoring chance right before intermission, and a Brady pass for Wes Welker was intercepted by Earl Thomas in the end zone in the fourth quarter.
“We had a few third-and-shorts that we didn’t necessarily convert on and we ended up with a two-minute drive that obviously we were hoping for either 7 or 3 [points] there and didn’t get it,’’ McDaniels said, referring to the bungled scoring chance before halftime. “I think overall, your execution down there is really at a premium and whatever you’re calling is really at a premium.
“You’ve got to do everything right down there because you really have no margin for error. We can do better and we have to.’’
Out of whack
Run-pass balance has been a common denominator in all three of the Patriots’ wins this season, and the lack of it has been a stumbling block in all three losses. Sunday, the Patriots ran 85 offensive plays for 475 total net yards, including 26 runs for 87 yards and 58 pass attempts for 388 yards.
“We usually try to make a good choice of what we end up trying to do or how we end up trying to play the game,’’ McDaniels said. “We knew Seattle was a really good, talented defense. We knew there were some challenges playing there in their [noisy] stadium. Then couple that with their scheme, where they really play with a safety down either in the box or at the line of scrimmage on almost every play, and we knew we were going to rely a little bit more heavily on our passing game as kind of an extension of our running game.’’
McDaniels called the 26 running plays, but he used a short, controlled-passing scheme to augment that, “to try to control the ball, control the clock, and, really, to effectively move the ball against that [defensive] scheme,’’ he said. “Going into the game, we kind of knew that we would be a little heavier throwing the football than we were in the past few weeks and we just didn’t make enough plays in the red zone and turned the ball over in a couple situations that really ended up hurting us in the final result of the game.’’
There were choices
So just who was Brady’s primary option on the play in which he was called for intentional grounding? McDaniels said Brady had a number of them to choose from.
“You try to give the quarterback a lot of quick options on a play like that so that he can make a quick decision on what he wants to do with the ball and get it out of his hand,’’ McDaniels said. “Everybody is alive on those pass plays. I think we got five guys out into the pattern quickly.’’
It appeared on replay that tight end Rob Gronkowski had slipped free and ran toward the right corner of the end zone.
“They did a good job of covering some things early in the pattern and I think Gronk did spring free late in the play,’’ McDaniels said. “But I think at that point Tom had kind of made his decision that he was going to go ahead and get rid of the football by the time that happened.’’
Point of emphasis
The Patriots host the Jets Sunday in an AFC East showdown. The Jets enter on the heels of an impressive 35-9 victory over the Colts. The Jets rolled up 252 yards rushing, with Shonn Greene running for a career-high 161 yards and three TDs.
“I think the Jets had an excellent performance and certainly their running game is going to be a huge challenge for us to prepare for,’’ said Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. “So that will be a big thing we’ll have to put a point of emphasis on and try to make sure we can handle.Continued...