Don’t Blame the Defense

You can blame Tom Brady for his three turnovers…

You can blame Gostkowski for shanking an easy field goal…

You can blame Ochocinco for still looking completely lost halfway through the season…

You can blame Julian Edelman for hanging onto a waitress’s skirt better than he does a football…

You can blame the referees for turning a blind eye to numerous egregious holding penalties and for throwing a game-determining pass interference flag on a ball that was utterly uncatcable…

 

…but DO NOT blame the Patriots’ defense for this loss.  Had the Patriots won this game, it would have been all about their defense.  New England had three turnovers deep in their own territory and the Giants walked away with only ten points.  Up until the final four minutes of the game, the “last ranked” defense in the league had given up exactly ZERO points on drives that started with New York returning a kick.  They had held Eli Manning to 1 for 11 on third downs.  Then the yellow flags started flying, the holds continued to not be called, and on the most critical play of the game, our best safety was removed from the game due to injury, a player who had not been in for a single snap was thrust on the field, and he proceeded to draw a pass interference penalty on a ball that was sailing 15 feet over the reciever’s head. 

This was Super Bowl XLII all over again, except with much less at stake.  The Giant’s defense rattled Brady. New England made some critical mistakes. The Patriots defense held firm.  New England clawed their way back to a lead. Then the referees took the game over and nailed the coffin shut by bailing out Eli Manning repeatedly on his final drive. 

For a few minutes after the game, I seriously thought that I had just experienced some sort of hallucinogenic post-traumatic stress disorder flashback. 

 

So what can we take away from this game…

- The Patriots need to hang onto the ball.  They’ve had two games this season where they’ve had four turnovers and not surprisingly, have lost them both.

- The Patriots defense is coming along.  In three of the last four games, @ Pittsburgh excluded, they’ve been pulling their weight and not depending on the offense to bail them out.

- Teams are really keying in on how to rattle Tom Brady.  The recipe has been found out and teams are starting to take advantage.  The O-line needs to be stronger for starters to help fend off the pressure.  The offense also has to get a bit more creative, making better use of guys like Woodhead and Faulk and mixing up some screen passes to keep the defenses honest. 

- The Pats need to take care of business against New York and Buffalo.  The bulk of their remaining schedule includes Indy, KC, Miami, Washington, and Denver.  Even if they don’t win the division, there’s no reason they can’t get a wild card.  If they just split NY/Buffalo, that should be good enough for 12-4 or 11-5. I honestly have a hard time believing the Jets or Bills will finish better than 11-5.

- I don’t trust Houston or whoever stumbles to the AFC West title, so if New England can win their division, that’s still a first-round bye.  I’d love nothing more than to see this team go for revenge again at Heinz Field in the AFC title game.  That’s the type of stuff championships are made of.

- If Rex Ryan signs Bernard Pollard this week, Belichick had better just sit Tom Brady and roll the dice with Hoyer.  Tonight’s game was eerily similar to 2007, and we all know what happened the next game…

Derek Hanson

About Derek Hanson

Doctor by day, blogger by night, Derek Hanson is the founder of the Bloguin Network and has been a Patriots fan for more than 20 years.

Quantcast