It is not time to panic yet, and if the Patriots soon get David Andrews and Shaq Mason back, the offense needs to be improved. But Newton needs more receivers who can win one-on-one on the line of scrimmage. It would be nice if this team could add a tight-end or receiver by the trade deadline of November 3rd.
▪ Where were Edelman and Harry? Edelman had two catches on six goals for 8 yards and his only real impact came on two completions on 38 yards in the fourth quarter. This is the third week in a row that Edelman has been held to three or fewer catches and less than 40 yards. Defense is finding out that if you take Edelman out of the game, the Patriots have little else in the offense. McDaniels has to find ways to get the Edelman ball.
And Harry had no catches on just two goals. Since his promising game in Seattle, Harry has only five catches in 55 yards in three games.
▪ Not practicing much the last two weeks is not an excuse for the Patriots. The Titans didn’t practice much either, and they hit the frames last week, winning Sunday. The Patriots looked rusty by offense, and the driving defense was sloppy. Add three turnovers and this was not a game to remember for the Patriots. With two weeks to prepare, I expected better from Bill Belichick and the coaching staff.
▪ It seemed weird at the time, but I do not disagree with Belichick̵
When asked if he was considering challenging it, Belichick replied, “No, not really.”
But he did not explain why. Belichick whipped on one.
▪ Patriots have significant offensive issues and may not improve soon. They played with three rookies in the second half and the only starter in his normal place was back tackle Isaiah Wynn. The Broncos got a constant push and were in Newton’s face throughout the game, and the Patriots’ running back combined for just 15 carries in 41 yards.
Even Joe Thuney and Wynn, the two veterans on the line, had tough games. Wynn allowed a sack and missed the block, leading to a blocked pass and interception in the first quarter. And Thuney made a wild snap that ruined a promising scoring drive in the first half.
▪ It also did not help that Newton held the ball for too long. Of his four sacks, three probably belong to Newton and his penchant for staying too long in his pocket. But it did not appear that anyone was open in the field.
And for a quarterback who stands 6 feet 5 inches, Newton definitely gets a lot of passes hit on the line with scrimmage.
▪ A kind of hot and cold game for the Patriots’ defense. They did not force a point until there were 14 minutes left in the fourth quarter. And they could not get off the field and allowed drives at 5:54, 5:01 and 9:07 in the second and third quarters.
But if you do not allow a touchdown and hold the other team to 18 points and 299 yards, forcing two turnovers, and keeping the opponent out of the final zone twice in the red zone, it must be good enough to win. In fact, the Patriots had been 39-0 below Belichick as they kept the other team out of the final zone. The Patriots’ defense was not the reason they lost, but they had to be good, not just good, to overcome a poor offensive performance.
▪ The Broncos clearly had decided to counter-attack when they could. Their entire passing game was just Drew Lock throwing a bunch of bouncy balls. Tim Patrick came down with a couple of bigs, including a 35-yard on third and 21, and the tight end Albert Okwuegbunam had a couple of good grips (though he also dropped two safe touchdowns).
But the Broncos could not get into any real rhythm in the passing game, with Lock finishing 10-of-24 passes for just 189 yards. And Lock’s risky throw finally caught up with him, with JC Jackson and Jonathan Jones each coming up with interceptions in the fourth quarter. Lock made a couple of big throws, but he did not win exactly this game.
Ben Volin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin.