Keys to a Patriots Victory Review: Week 13
The New England Patriots went into Houston and were thoroughly beaten by the Texans by a score of 28-22. The close final score was not indicative of how the game was played. After taking a quick 3-0, the Patriots trailed the whole night. A couple late 4th quarter scores made the game seem closer than it actually was.
Let’s break down how New England fared in last week’s keys to victory that were laid out for them ahead of the game.
1) Tom Brady and the offense
Tom Brady is not the problem. The play of the 42-year-old quarterback has been a hot topic throughout New England a different late, but he is not the issue for the offense. The skill players are the ones to blame - they are just not on the same page as their QB, which was evident in Sunday night's loss.
The run game isn’t the same as it was last year and that eliminates the play action passing game which was so vital to the Patriots' success late last season.
It is easy for opposing teams to defend the Patriots and old friend Romeo Crennel gave the rest of the league the blueprint on Sunday night. Double Julian Edelman and cover James White with a cornerback when he comes out the backfield. Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers, Mohamed Sanu, and N’Keal Harry are just not good enough to win their matchups on the outside.
Sanu does not know the offense yet, which was evident on a few plays in the second half when he lined up on the wrong side of the formation and Brady had to tell him where to go. Harry was at fault on the interception that Brady threw as he totally let the cornerback beat him to the ball. Harry wasn’t targeted the rest of the game and was barely on the field after it. They have a month left to figure it out before the playoffs.
2) Stephon Gilmore vs. DeAndre Hopkins
New England played more zone coverage than usual in the first half. Perhaps they were trying conserve energy because of the flu bug that went through the locker room earlier in the week. Stephon Gilmore vs. DeAndre Hopkins was not as epic as expected. Hopkins had five catches for 64 yards, so it was a relative quiet night for him.
The Patriots went to their “zero blitz” package in the second half and were burned by for a touchdown from Deshaun Watson to Kenny Stills which pretty much sealed the game. New England found out that there is a big difference between all-out blitzing Sam Darnold compared to Deshaun Watson.
3) New Week, new Kicker, same expectations
The Kai Forbath experiment lasted all of one game. Forbath was released on Monday after just four days of being with New England. Forbath made a chip shot field goal and went 1-for-2 on extra point attempts. The expectation was for Nick Folk to return after his emergency appendectomy surgery. The great kicker carousel continues.
With the loss and the Ravens win vs.the 49ers, the Patriots are now the no. 2 seed in the AFC. New England knows they can win on the road in the playoffs as they did it just last year in the AFC Championship game in Kansas City. The focus now for the Patriots is to handle their business and maintain one of the top two seeds so they can get the all-important bye in the playoffs.