Still a little blurry after taking the red eye from Seattle, but figured the Patriots' 24-23 loss to the Seahawks needed to be addressed further -- and it will be talked about all week.
It should. That was a terrible loss by the Patriots. An epic fail. Up 23-10 with nine minutes left, they have no business losing that game.
Three things to feel good about
- Wes Welker is a golden god: I believe things happen for a reason. And for the Patriots, I think believe the injuries to Aaron Hernandez and Julian Edelman made the team better for the long haul because it reminded Bill Belichick that Welker is easy to write off in your mind before the regular season -- sometimes you can forget the little things that make him great -- but once the season kicks off, the guy is one hell of a player. We will never know what would have happened had Hernandez stayed healthy and the Patriots romped over the Cardinals while Welker played about 20 plays only in three-receiver sets behind Edelman. Welker very well might have been traded. That is all forgotten now, at least for this season. And because certain things happened, the Patriots will be better.
- They're close: The Patriots have lost three games by a combined four points. That it's becoming a habit is certainly something to worry about. But the fact that the Patriots are just a few plays here or there from winning those games, that's a good sign. Now they just need to find a way to make those plays.
- Gostkowski's kicks: Very minor and he didn't have an attempt longer than 35 yards, but Stephen Gostkowski made all three of his field-goal attempts and has converted his last five kicks after missing two in Buffalo. An extended slump would have been bad -- and he doesn't have a made kick longer than 35 yards since the Ravens game -- so at least he's maintaining his confidence.
Three things to worry about
Where to start (already covered the secondary this morning -- was any safety planning on making any plays in the middle of the field?)…
- Inability to close out games: Patriots lead Giants 17-9 with 11:20 left in third quarter of the Super Bowl and don't score again and lose. Patriots lead Cardinals 9-6 early in third quarter and are outscored 14-0 before losing. Patriots lead Ravens 30-21 with 14:10 left in fourth quarter and go scoreless before losing. Patriots lead Seahawks 23-10 with 9:21 left in the fourth quarter and go scoreless before losing. Not acceptable. Have to find a way to execute better and get the final score to win the game. I mean, one touchdown on six trips in the red zone? And twice the Patriots were inside the 10-yard line and got zero points. Unreal. One thing that crossed my mind as I watched Tom Brady get up very slowly after the roughing penalty he took to the head, was that he might have been a little woozy. After the hit, Brady was 5-12 for 81 yards, one interception, one sack and one grounding penalty.
- Coaching decisions: I said at the time that I didn't like the decision to forgo the field goal before halftime and try for the touchdown. I thought six seconds was just too little time. It was eight seconds, I'd be ok with it. Even without the grounding, the Patriots were fortunate the clock stopped with one second left. There were plenty of other strange decisions -- no timeouts left? -- but what happened at the end of the game was really strange. The Patriots played the Seahawks' final three plays like it was the middle of the third quarter. I realize the Seahawks had 1 yard to go on second and third down, but they needed a touchdown and only had one timeout left. Why did the Patriots decide at that moment to play base defense with only four defensive backs when the Seahawks had to score a touchdown? The Patriots should have been encouraging the Seahawks to run the ball and burn clock. The decision to play Cover 2 on the final touchdown -- with two rookies at safety -- made absolutely no sense. Play Cover 3, quarters or two man…something other than Cover 2. And don't even get us started on the Patriots actually falling for the play fake on the touchdown.
- Health: Everyone seems to be concerned about Brandon Lloyd, but he returned for the final two plays and didn't seem to be favoring his arm. I'd be more worried about Brady (head), Welker (ankle), Gronkowski (hip/back), Aaron Hernandez (ankle), Sebastian Vollmer (back), Logan Mankins (quad), Patrick Chung (shoulder), and Steve Gregory (hip) and Dont'a Hightower (hamstring). Those in that group that did play against the Seahawks, they didn't move around very well. The Patriots are starting to get really beat up, especially with key players, and that's never good.