Patriots look sluggish in overtime loss to Jets
Going into this week, Patriots fans didn’t necessarily know what to expect. Many were unsure as to whether or not their team would go all in to win this game and secure the number one seed in the AFC playoffs, or whether they would sit most of their starters and focus on beating Miami next week. As it turns out, it was a mixture of both. Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Patrick Chung, and Devin McCourty all sat out. In the end, the Patriots struggled yet again because of injuries and came up short in a 26-20 loss in overtime at the hands of their arch rivals, the New York Jets at Metlife Stadium.
It was apparent from the start that the Patriots offense was going to have an uphill battle against the stingy Jets defense. Without a legitimate slot receiver Tom Brady was forced to hold onto the ball longer than usual, and it ended up with him throwing the ball away to avoid a sack more often than not. Also, the receivers who were on the field that included Brandon LaFell could rarely get open. It did not help that Patriots starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer went down early in the game with a leg injury, and was carted off the field. His season appears to be over, and it will leave the Patriots scrambling for a reliable tackle once again.
Even though the Patriots defense struggled in the first half, they only trailed by a score of 10-3 at the break, after surrendering a 13-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that ended with Brandon Marshall in the end zone. What followed was a very conservative decision by the Patriots coaching staff to pack it in with almost two minutes to go in the half.
The third quarter was not much better as the Patriots surrendered an inexcusable touchdown to Brandon Marshall on third and eleven from 33 yards out, following a bad interception from Tom Brady to former Patriot Darrelle Revis. Duron Harmon did not prove that he can step in for Devin McCourty and be reliable as he was absolutely spun around on the play. However, late in the third quarter down 17-6, the Patriots got exactly the play they needed. Jabaal Sheard came up big once again and strip sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick with Jamie Collins picking it up and waltzing into the end zone.
On the ensuing Jets possession, the Patriots defense could not get off the field but managed to hold the Jets to a field goal keeping the game within one score. Late in the fourth quarter, with not having scored an offensive touchdown all game the Patriots were in position to tie the game with a touchdown drive. On the drive Tom Brady found Rob Gronkowski on two separate fourh down conversions, one coming on fourth and nine. Soon there after that play, James White found himself in the end zone for the sixth time in six games. The Patriots defense made a stop and the rivals were heading to overtime.
Before overtime even started, controversy took over. Bill Belichick opted to kickoff after winning the toss, which many Patriots fans disagreed with. However, the Patriots defense had only given up 30 yards of offense to the Jets in the fourth quarter. Belichick was confident that his defense could get a stop and allow his offense to only need to get within field goal range to win the game. Belichick had the right intentions, but for the second time this season his defense flat out choked in overtime giving up a touchdown on the oppositions opening possession. Ryan Fitzpatrick went down the field in five plays ending in a touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone to Eric Decker. Game over.
This loss is not the end of the world for the Patriots seeing how they still have next week to clinch the number one seed in Miami against the 5-10 Dolphins. Nevertheless, some things are concerning as a Patriots fan. Over the past five games the Patriots are 2-3, which astonishing for a Bill Belichick team to be this bad after Thanksgiving. The injury to Julian Edelman has completely derailed the offense, they have been very mediocre since he went down. The defense has gotten a lot of praise and it has been deserved at times. The reality is that they aren’t good against solid quarterbacks. They’ve been picked apart by Ryan Fitzpatrick twice, and in key situations against Philadelphia and Denver they could not come through.
In the end, injuries have hurt this team greatly and has made the second half of this season a war of attrition for the Patriots. With one week left to play, the Patriots are facing a must win in Miami. The number one seed is pivotal for the Patriots Super Bowl chances. They need a solid offensive performance heading into the playoffs. There have been rumors that Julian Edelman could return this week. That would be a huge emotional spark that this Patriots team desperately needs, because with the way this team is currently constructed any team could come into Foxborough and win.