If you've kept up with Foxboro Blog, you'll surely relate to the continuing saga of a Foxboro-based Insomniac who dwells on the many things that keep a Belichickian awake at night as the schedule progresses into the second third of the NFL season. I've enjoyed sharing lists of the issues that have kept me at the highest levels of anxiety, similar to the state of destruction reached when New York Giants TE David Tyree used his noggin' to defeat the Pats in Super Bowl XLII. I trust you probably saw the archived editions and my listing of prior concerns. Here are my thoughts after Week 6:
Three Losses by Four Points: If there was ever something to keep an insomniac pacing the floors on Sunday nights, it's the fact the New England Patriots are 3-3 and have lost the tri-fecta of games by a total of four points. Recounting the misery, there was the 20-18 home loss to Arizona where Stephen Gostkowski duck-hooked a potential game winning field goal wide left to leave the Patriots short and with their first loss of the then-young season. The second loss came a week later, a 31-30 heart-breaker at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens. The Patriots looked listless in the fourth quarter and coughed up 10 points in the final 4:01. Then, Sunday's fiasco at Century Link where New England tossed away an easy first half FG when Tom Brady was called for intentionally grounding a ball and the subsequent ten-second clock run-off ended the half with the Patriots in possession on the Seattle three. At the time, New England seemed in control at 17-10. Little did we know.
No Knockout Punch: Without question, the New England Patriots are going to great lengths to keep their opponents in the game. Whether it be an ill-timed turnover, a costly and unnecessary penalty or poor special team coverage which allows for extra yardage on a runback and improved field position at a key time of the game, the Patriots count the ways to allow opponents to stay close. While playing in a steady rain at Seattle is no picnic day in Boston Common, the Patriots allowed the Seahawks to stay within striking distance throughout the second half of Sunday's 24-23 total collapse. With New England up 20-10 and in control of the game, QB Tom Brady tossed two interceptions, the first on a "2nd and 5" when Brady attempted to hit Deion Branch going long late in the third quarter and the other, the killer, on a "3rd and 1" at the Seattle six yard line when Brady's short pass intended for Wes Welker ended up in Earl Thomas hands which allowed Seattle to stage its comeback.
The Patriots secondary committed multiple, untimely defensive pass interference penalties, one by four-year man Patrick Chung for 40 yards and the other, a penalty declined by Seattle after Russell Wilson hit Braylon Edwards on a 10-yard touchdown pass play. Then, the unthinkable, after failing to put the sleeper hold and pin the Seahawks, the porous secondary let-up a 46-yeard strike fro Wilson to Sidney Rice to cap a four play 1:20 game-winning drive which made the final score 24-23, capping a 14-point fourth quarter for Seattle with the scores striking in the final nine minutes.
Importantly, it's not just the secondary. Coach Bill Belichick repeated the facts and the cause of the loss, ad nauseam, in his postgame remarks. Here's a sampling:
“Today is one of those days where we just didn’t do enough things well enough, we had a lot of chances and just all the way across the board everyone involved in the game all of us just didn’t do a good enough job, the result is what it was. Just not good enough.
“Nothing today was good enough on offense, defense, special teams, coaches, players and everyone involved in the game just wasn’t good enough. We all made mistakes and we had our chances and just didn’t do a good enough job.
“We just didn’t play well the whole game today so it was the end of the game, it was the first half second half. We played in spurts we just didn’t play well enough and we had to many chances we didn’t take advantage of.
“They played better than we did today so congratulations to the Seahawks, Pete, they did a good job. They out played us today, out coached us. They were better than we were.
“I think everybody that played in this game could of played better could of coached better could of done a better job. I think everybody’s got certainly missed opportunities and plays they would like to have back. Could of played better could of coached better.”
”I just thought we didn’t execute the things that we needed to do to win obviously. That goes for all of us just wasn’t good enough for anybody, starting with me, the assistant coaches everybody else in the organization, the players just as a total team we came up short and got to do better.”
Dysfunctional Division: The entire AFC East is as dysfunctional as a GOP primary debate. Everybody claims to be the answer but they're all sitting around looking at each other with 3-3 records. Only the Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens look worthy of a trip to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII although they both suffered severe injury defensive players in Brian Cushing who is lost to Houston after an ACL tear while Baltimore awaits results on a possible triceps tear that could sideline Ray Lewis for the rest of the season.
Terry Lyons pens a column on the NFL for Foxboro Blog, including a weekly look at “what keeps us up at night.” Lyons is publisher and editor-in-chief at Boston-based DigitalSportsDesk – http://www.digitalsportsdesk.com – where he writes on football, basketball, baseball and hockey.