Patriots sluggish, lose to Broncos at home

By Brendan Beauregard, Assistant Sports Editor

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After positive COVID-19 tests postponed the game a week later than originally scheduled, the New England Patriots took the field at Gillette Stadium on Sunday afternoon to host the Denver Broncos. And, oh boy, did New England look off as the Patriots struggled to get the offense going and came up short to Denver 18-12—how’s that for a football score?

Let’s talk about the productive parts of the game for New England before moving on to the bad, shall we? 

Positive note No. 1: the Patriots’ defense stalled Denver’s offense when they had to, and it gave up zero touchdowns during the game as all of the Broncos’ points came by way of field goals. 

Positive note No. 2: the defense also picked off Broncos quarterback Drew Lock twice on back to back Denver plays in the fourth quarter to keep New England in the game. As much as the Patriots’ offense looked bad, the defense did a decent job of keeping the game within striking distance.

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“It’s always good to keep them out of the end zone, that’s definitely the goal,” said Patriots coach Bill Belichick in the postgame press conference.But they scored more points than we did, so we need to play better defense and give up fewer and try to score more.” 

Doesn’t Bill sound like his usual jolly, uplifting self?

In all seriousness, Belichick is 100-percent right. The team needs to play better, not just on defense but as a team overall, especially with how the offense looked.

Moving onto the disappointing part for New England—the offense. The Patriots’ offense literally put my baby nephew to sleep. That’s how exceptional the Patriots were moving the ball. 

Sure, you might be thinking “well, that’s what babies do,” and you would be right. Either way, it wasn’t the best of days for the offense, giving up three turnovers and recording under 300 yards of total offense.

Though Patriots starting quarterback Cam Newton was back after missing their last game after testing positive for COVID-19, Newton’s performance on Sunday was lackluster—throwing for only 157 yards and two interceptions. You could say Newton had a good day on the ground, rushing for 76 yards and a touchdown, but the New England quarterback had other things on his mind.

“We’re expected to do our job and play at a high level, and we didn’t do that today,” said Newton in the postgame press conference.

Additionally, it seemed that the Patriots’ receivers couldn’t get open throughout the game. Star receiver Julian Edelman had only two catches for eight yards, and N’Keal Harry was like Casper the Friendly Ghost with zero catches.

Sunday’s game was another tough one to watch, there’s no doubt about that. With a below-.500 record of 2-3, New England must play better from here on out heading into their next game against the San Francisco 49ers. However, it’s important to note the outside influences that impacted this game before kickoff.

This game was supposed to be played last Sunday, as previously mentioned, along with the Patriots hardly being able to practice in their own facility due to the increase in positive tests on the team. It’s hard to prepare for a game when all you have are Zoom calls and few live practices.

Yes, you can point out the Tennessee Titans won their game weeks back against the Buffalo Bills despite Tennessee only having three practices in 16 days due to positive COVID tests within the team. But, you don’t see that happen every time. It would be like seeing someone who has never run more than three miles in their life run a marathon in two hours. That’s literally borderline impossible.

So, if you’re wicked mad about this game, I’d suggest stepping back and thinking about the number of hurdles New England went through in the last couple of weeks. A loss is a loss, and losing stings no matter what. Yet, the Patriots still had a chance to win in the final minutes despite all those hurdles.

The sky may be gloomy at Gillette Stadium, but it isn’t falling, Patriots fans. There’s still plenty of football to be played, and hopefully New England will be able to conduct a regular amount of practices this week compared to only one practice and a walkthrough last week. 

Like Cam Newton said this morning on WEEI, “No need to push the panic button.”

Onto San Francisco.