FOXBOROUGH – The Patriots lost back-to-back games for just the third time since the end of the 2002 season with a 24-20 loss to the Giants.
Let’s take a quick look back:
WHY DID THE PATRIOTS LOSE?
The offense didn’t make any plays for the first three quarters – five punts, two interceptions, a fumble, 19 yards in seven plays after the muffed punt, and one sustained drive -- and the defense gave up two scoring drives of 85 and 80 yards in the span of 5:26 late in the fourth quarter.
- LB Brandon Spikes (right knee) did not return. It didn’t look good, as Spikes put his head under a towel after talking to the doctors.
- LB Gary Guyton (undisclosed) was injured on the second to last play.
- WR Wes Welker (upper abdomen) didn’t miss a play thanks to a timeout.
- RB Danny Woodhead (leg) returned to the game.
- S Josh Barrett (left leg) did not return.
- Expansion of the defense: The soft zone was a thing of the past, probably due in part to the Giants not having WR Hakeem Nicks or RB Ahmad Bradshaw. But it was nice to see them make some adjustments in the linebacker’s pass drops, and playing different coverages. The Patriots won’t win playing a soft zone the rest of the season. Bill Belichick put more on the plate of the defense, and it was good to see them handle it. Still a work in progress.
- Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker: They are, by far, the most dangerous weapons in this offense and they deserved to get 25 of Tom Brady’s 49 passes. Even when they look covered, they’re still open.
- QB pressure: The Patriots didn’t have a sack but Eli Manning wasn’t comfortable the whole game. The official scorer gave the Patriots eight quarterback hits. That’s a good number and there were likely more pressures there.
THREE THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT
- Final quarter of defense: When the Giants finally opened up the passing offense, the Patriots had the same old troubles.
- Offensive execution: For the first three quarters, it was abysmal. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another, between bad passes, turnovers, drops, poor routes, poor pass blocking, runs picking the wrong hole, etc. The Patriots usually execute at a much higher level. They need to find out why they haven’t for the past two games.
- OchoWorth: Chad Ochocinco had five targeted passes and didn’t come up with any of them, even though that wasn’t all his fault. But on one he got out of his break too late, and on another he flattened his route instead of running to the pylon. Still, he looked much more confident with the X’s and O’s, he just needs to get the all-important route adjustments down. With Deion Branch being more and more limited on the types of routes he can run, it looks like the Patriots are trying to force feed Ochocinco on Brady. There still appears to be some hope there. As for Albert Haynesworth, he drew a holding call but after getting way too high on Brandon Jacobs’s TD run, he was nowhere to be seen. He needs to be on the field.
- Wes Welker: He is getting the tar beaten out of him, but he still came up with nine catches and 136 yards.
- Rob Gronkowski: Had eight catches for 101 yards and a touchdown on 15 targeted passes. He was back in beast mode.
- Zoltan Mesko: He was stellar with a 45.0 average and net. Four of his punts out of his own end were fair caught. In a game of field position, that was huge. If Mesko was average, the Patriots could have been in real trouble.
At New York Jets (5-3), 8:30 p.m. Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Result: Beat Bills, 27-11. Jets had 348 yards of balanced offense, and the defense forced three turnovers.