Another week, another dud. The New England Patriots came out flat and in the end, fell to the Giants 24-20 at Gillette Stadium. The Pats lost their consecutive home wins record and fell to 5-3 on the season. Thoughts:
-Tom Brady was terrible. I mean just plain AWFUL. His numbers don’t look all that terrible, as he went 28-49, while throwing for 342 yards and 2 touchdowns. But, Brady threw 2 interceptions, while giving the football away on a fumble. When the Pats needed him most in the 4th quarter, Brady was fine. But after moving the ball for 438 yards, the Pats came away with 20 points. Not good enough.
-The Patriots offense went 5-15 on 3rd downs while the defense actually rose to the challenge and held the Giants on their 3rd down attempts (4-14). At a mere 33%, New England needs to perform. Converting 3rd downs gives the offense a greater chance of success, so bolstering this statistic is VITAL.
-Chad Ochocinco has again yet to make an impact. Brady targeted Ocho 5 times and the Pats were able to get a whopping ZERO catches out of the highly touted offseason pickup. The Pats were expecting Ochocinco to be another threat when on the field. Thus far, threat has turned into liability.
-Defensively, it was a tale of two halves. The defense was on point in the first half, not only shutting the Giants out, but also shutting the Giants down. The Giants could not muster anything offensively, as the defense played with a swagger and an intensity level that reminded people of those 2000-era defenses. Just as quickly, though, that ended. The defense was unable to close the game down and the team suffered because of it. If either Brady or the defense steps up at the time they didn’t, New England wins.
-Stephen Gostowski hurt the Pats by missing a crucial FG-attempt as time expired in the first half. Gostowski making the kick only gives the Pats a 3-0 advantage, but provides momentum going forward. It may not seem to matter, but it changed everything when ending the half.
Right now, the Patriots are beating themselves. I think we’ve seen on multiple occasions that this team has the ability to be great. The defense has had bad moments (or games in the case of the Steelers), but has also shown that they can be a great unit. We’ve seen the offense is a capable of anything and typically, Tom Brady doesn’t have a day like he had yesterday. But, this is a team that needs to find an identity.
Going forward, the schedule is not all that tough. Right now, they play two teams with a winning record in Buffalo and the Jets. Outside of that, the only game that looks to be a big time match-up is a game with the Eagles. 5 other games seem to be a cakewalk. If the Pats can go into New York this week and beat the Jets, every naysayer and negative qualm about this team will be forgotten. Until then, Pats fans are living on a prayer.