Defensive Letdown Leads to Shocking Defeat for New England Patriots

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Let me start by saying that Tom Brady was bad yesterday too, okay.  I don't want people to think I'm dismissing his performance. He struggled yesterday, and the pick-six he threw to Eric Rowe was horrendous.  The line wasn't to blame for this one either.  Brady has had some bad games this season, but in most of those contests, he was under constant pressure.  Not yesterday.  He was just flat out bad.

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With that being said, Brady and the offense still did enough to win.  Twice in the second half, after the defense allowed Miami to march down field and take the lead, the Patriots offense responded.  First, with an eight play, 75 yard drive to tie the game at 17.  Then again with an eight play, 60 yard drive to take a 24-20 lead with less than four minutes remaining.

Over the past month or so, in conversations with friends, family and fellow Patriots fans, I've found myself saying that if this offense can figure out a way to get to 24 points, and if the defense plays to its potential, they'll be in a good spot.  It may not always be enough, but they'll have a chance.  Yesterday, 24 points should have been enough to beat this crappy Miami Dolphins team, but the defense let them down.
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The defense has bailed this offense out all season long, and was the main reason the Patriots sat at 12-3 heading into yesterday's game.  Then yesterday happened.  Forget the first three and a half quarters.  Forget Tom Brady's pick six.  That happened in the early stages of the second quarter.

The defense needed to make just one play over the final four minutes yesterday to win the game.  The same record setting defense that was scoring more points than it was allowing early in the season.  The same defense that in Week 2 intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick three times, and held him to under 100 passing yards.  All they needed to do was make one stop yesterday afternoon.

Instead, they allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to go 75 yards in about three and a half minutes.

With one puke-inducing drive, they lost the game, a first round bye, Stephon Gilmore likely lost his Defensive Player of the Year award, and they lost all of my confidence.  DeVante Parker, Albert Wilson and Isaiah Ford.  Most of you are likely asking "who".  That's who the secondary couldn't cover yesterday.

Parker's a former first round pick and has had a resurgent year, so kudos to him.  The other two guys sound like former presidents.  Nope, they're the guys who were running free yesterday afternoon.

In the locker room after the win against Buffalo, Bill Belichick stressed to his team that next week's game against Miami should be treated as a playoff game.  Maybe he forgot what he said.  Because the way they Patriots and their coaching staff approached yesterday's game made it seem like they felt the exact opposite.

I made more adjustments in my seat in section 305 than the Patriots did on the field yesterday.  From what I could see, the Patriots were bringing pressure, the defensive backs were playing 50 yards off the line of scrimmage and Fitzpatrick would take the snap, take one step and dump it off to a receiver underneath and let him run with the ball.

All game.  Nothing changed.  Maybe it seems too simple, but I feel like all they needed to do was jam the receivers at the line a few times to disrupt the timing.  Nope.  The defense literally did nothing different - that I could tell - all game. It felt like watching a preseason game.

The energy and intensity they played with against Buffalo was gone.  I get it, the Buffalo game felt more like a playoff game than yesterday, and it certain ways it was.  However, yesterday's game was paramount to New England's Super Bowl chances.  The way they approached it made it seem like they thought Miami would just roll over, and the Pats could stroll into the 2 seed.

Instead, Miami came to play, and the bye that New England so desperately needed is gone.

Saturday night's matchup with Tennessee is going to be a dog fight.  The Patriots have appeared in 9 Super Bowls in the past 20 years.  They haven't made a single one after playing on Wild Card weekend.  Now, New England's path to the Super Bowl is much more challenging, and they have only themselves to blame.

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Defensive Letdown Leads to Shocking Defeat for New England Patriots
Defensive Letdown Leads to Shocking Defeat for New England Patriots
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