Ryan L. Fox
It seemed like an eternity since the New England Patriots last played football. Since their Week 4 loss on Monday Night Football to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Patriots have been battling a COVID-19 outbreak that forced them to reschedule their Week 5 match-up with the Denver Broncos on October 11 to following week on October 18.
It was a sloppy game to say the least as there was clearly rust on each team’s offense. That only meant that the game would become a defensive chess battle with each side making a key play to help put their team in position to win. The game itself went down to the wire but in the end, only one teams was going to prevail.
The Broncos took the opening kickoff and simply marched down the field on the Patriots defense, mostly due in part on a deep pass from QB Drew Lock to WR Tim Patrick into New England territory. However, they ended up settling for a 45-yard field goal by K Brandon McManus for the early 3-0 lead in the 1st quarter.
After picking off a pass by Patriots QB Cam Newton, the Broncos were able to tack on another McManus’ 2nd field goal of the game, this time from 44-yards out for a 6-0 lead with a little over 8 minutes left in the quarter.
The Broncos got the ball back on their own 9-yard line after forcing the Patriots to punt. Lock drove the offense nearly the entire length of the field but they got bogged down at the New England 8. The Broncos ended up settling for a 27-yard field goal by McManus to make it 9-0 with a little under 12:15 left in the 2nd quarter.
The Patriots got the ball back and started their own long drive. They got up to the Denver 19 where a botched snap from starting C Joe Thuney to QB Cam Newton cost them 15 yards and backed them up to the Denver 34. That proved costly as the Patriots winded up settling for a field goal that drive. K Nick Folk booted the 41-yard attempt through the uprights to make it 9-3 with a little under 5:30 minutes left in the quarter.
The Broncos responded with that field goal with a field goal of their own. McManus booted a 52-yard field goal, his 4th of the day, to give the Broncos a 12-3 with 19 seconds left in the quarter. Newton did a simple kneel down to end the half as both teams went into their respective locker rooms.
The Patriots got the ball to start the 2nd half but were forced to punt on their opening drive.
The Broncos responded with their longest possession of the game. Starting from their own 15, they got all the way down to the New England 2 while eating up 9:07 minutes off the clock. The Broncos ended up having to settle for another field goal as McManus booted his 5th field goal of the game, this time from 20 yards out, to make it 15-3 with 3:32 left in the 3rd quarter.
After recovering a fumble by Patriots TE Ryan Izzo and bringing it back to the New England 42, it looked like the Broncos were poised for another long drive. Instead, they ended up settling for another McManus field goal, his 6th attempt of the game and from 54 yards out. McManus booted it nearly right down the middle to make it 18-3 with 37 seconds left in the 3rd quarter.
The two teams proceeded to exchange punts with another as the Patriots got the ball back with 10:14 left in the 4th quarter. Newton first found WR Damien Byrd over the left side for 19-yards to the Denver 46. Then on the next play, Newton nearly out ran the Broncos defense but was tackled down at the Denver 8. Three plays later, Newton stretched the ball over the goalline for the score and the Patriots first touchdown of the game. Unfortunately, the 2-pt conversion failed as the Patriots still trailed 18-9 with 8:31 left in the quarter.
On the ensuing Denver drive, Lock tried to find Patrick down the left sideline. Instead, he found Patriots CB J.C. Jackson at the New England 45, who brought the football back to the Denver 25. That ended up leading to a 38-yard field goal by Folk to make it 18-12 with 3:23 left in the game.
After forcing another Denver turnover, an interception by DB Johnathan Jones, gave the ball back to the Patriots at their own 28.
With time running out, the Patriots tried to muster one last scoring drive. They got all the way down to the Denver 24, thanks in part to two big trick plays. First was a 22-yard pass from WR Julian Edelman to RB James White on 2nd and 10 to midfield. Then 6 plays later, on double reverse pass, Edelman found Newton for a 16-yard catch-and-run down to the Denver 24. But 3 plays later, Patriots were faced with a 4th and 10. The offense stayed out onto the field to try to get the 1st down but Newton’s pass to WR N’Keal Harry was short as the Patriots turned the ball over on downs.
The Broncos got the ball back as Lock simply kneeled down in victory formation 3 times to run out the clock for the 18-12 victory.
It was a stinging loss for the Patriots as it dropped them to 2-3 and put them 2.0 games behind the division-leading Buffalo Bills (4-1).
Notable Patriots Players Statistical Standouts
QB Cam Newton - 17 for 25 for 157 yards and 2 INT for a QB rating of 51.6, 10 carries for 76 yards (7.6 ypc) and 1 TD
RB James White – 4 carries for 8 yards (2.0 ypc), 8 catches (on 9 targets) for 65 yards
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley – 12 tackles (8 solo, 4 assists) and 0.5 sacks
DE John Simon –4 tackles (2 solo, 2 assists) and 1.0 sacks
CB J.C. Jackson – 1 tackle (1 solo, 0 assists), 1 INT, and 2 passes defended
S Adrian Phillips – 11 tackles (5 solo, 6 assists)
DB Johnathan Jones – 4 tackles (3 solo, 1 assist), 1 INT, and 3 passes defended
COVID Problems Strike Again…
Back in Week 4 prior to their Monday night matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, it was announced the prior Saturday that starting QB Cam Newton tested positive for COVID. While there were concerns about how it would affect the game, the NFL and both teams took the necessary precautions to prevent an outbreak as the game was played.
Then on the following Tuesday, it was announced that reserved DT Bill Murray tested positive for COVID. Then on Wednesday, All-Pro CB Stephon Gilmore announced that he also tested positive for COVID.
All of Pats nations was thrown into a tizzy.
Patriots media, fans, players, complained about how the NFL could allow the game to happen. The rallying cry was that the Patriots requested to have bigger locker rooms while in Arrowhead Stadium to comply with the social distancing and the NFL turned it down.
But then it came out that Stephon Gilmore had dinner with Newton the previous Friday. Whether Newton knew that he tested positive or not prior to the two’s get together remains up for debate,
So the NFL ended up reshuffling the schedule, making what would have been a Week 5 match-up between the Patriots and Broncos a bye week.
Now, fast forward to this past weekend.
The Patriots were able to get back Gilmore, Newton, and Murray onto the practice field/workout facilities as all three were cleared by Wednesday to rejoin the team.
But on Friday, the Patriots cancelled their practice/workouts for the day as it came out a player had tested positive for COVID. Then later on that day, it turned out that back-up/current starting C James Ferentz was that player who tested positive. On the following Saturday, it was announced that RB Sony Michel (who is currently on the IR), starting G Shaq Mason, and backup DE Derek Rivers were all placed on the COVID-19/reserve list. Out of that current batch of players, Michel has been the only one that has come out and tested positive for COVID.
Yet, interestingly enough though, there wasn’t that much outcry by players, media people, and fans to postpone the upcoming Sunday game with the Broncos this time around compared to last week.
Call me crazy and what not, but perhaps there was a specific reason why there was such a cry to postpone the game last week compared to this week. That reason could be because the Patriots were gonna go into that game without their two best players for that game.
According to NFL guidelines, players who were asymptomatic (i.e. Cam and Stephon) would be given two options. Option 1 would have them sit out 10 days after the initial positive test before being allowed back into the facilities. Option 2 would have those players sit out 5 days after the initial positive test but they would need to get two consecutive negative PCR virus tests at least 24 hours apart within those 5 days.
More likely than not, Cam and Stephon would probably not be ready in time for when the match-up against the Broncos was originally slated back on October 11.
As we saw in Kansas City, the Patriots offense looked very stagnant with Brian Hoyer and Jarret Stidham under center. There wasn’t a threat of a scramble/QB run with those two as there is with Cam. With Gilmore, you rarely hear his name really get called during games that much due to the fact that A. He’s shutting down one side of the field and B. Quarterbacks are not throwing to his side as much.
So without those two key players, the game against the Broncos would have gone a lot more differently than how it went today.
Now during the past week or so, you kept hearing praises from the Patriots propaganda machine…I mean…Patriots media on how coach Bill Belichick was doing looking out for his players and fighting for their safety leading up to the original Week 5 date. Not to mention that there were talks and rumblings of Patriots players (i.e. the McCourty twins) who were threatening to not play if after Gilmore tested positive for COVID, citing that the NFL didn’t care about the players’ safety. Yet after when it came out of multiple the other Patriots players who either tested positive for COVID (Ferentz, Michel) or put on the COVID/reserve list (Mason, Rivers), there wasn’t a blip on anybody’s radar. Those who were crying out last week were very quiet this week.
The Patriots didn’t want to play last week because their 2 best players tested positive for COVID. Yet when there was a bigger outbreak this week with more test positive, it was still game on and not a peep from anybody.
Hmm…kinda ‘sus’ if you ask me.
So it shouldn’t be any surprise that the League will announce it will do a thorough investigation on whether or not the Patriots followed proper protocol. And it shouldn’t surprise anybody if there is any blowback from the franchise or from the team’s media cartel to rally the fans to ‘defend the wall’ again. But then again, there is a possibility that the Patriots followed proper protocols and that it could be on the players themselves for why there is still a COVID outbreak in Foxborough.
We won’t know the answers until they come out. But these are the Patriots we are talking about so don’t expect the truth to fully come out anytime soon.
Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!
0 - The number of penalties and penalty yards combined between the Patriots and Broncos in the 1st half
3 – The number of penalties committed by both teams combined for the game (2 by the Broncos for 20 yards and 1 by the Patriots for 4 yards)
5,138 - The number of days the last time the Broncos won against the Patriots in Gillette Stadium (17-7 victory back on September 24, 2006)
366 – The number of days since the last time the Patriots failed to score a touchdown in the first half in a game (a 17-10 victory in Week 11 against the Philadelphia Eagles on November 17, 2019)
1,477 – The number of days since the last time the Patriots failed to score a touchdown in the first half in a home game (a 16-0 loss in Week 4 against the Buffalo Bills on October 2, 2016)
5 -The number of punts between both teams for the entire game (2 by Broncos P Sam Martin and 3 by Patriots P Jake Bailey)
4 – The number of quarterback under the age of 25 that have beaten Bill Belichick (Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Deshaun Watson in 2019 and Drew Lock in 2020)
5,0531 – The career rushing yards of Patriots QB Cam Newton (came into this game with 4,955 yards rushing), making him the 2nd QB in NFL history to have 5,000+ career rushing yards (Michael Vick, 6,109)
.526 – The winning percentage of Bill Belichick against the Denver Broncos (10-9) during his 21-year tenure as head coach of the Patriots (9-6 during the regular season and 1-3 in the postseason)
Fox Fist Bump
The Fox Fist Bump of the Game goes to none other than…K Brandon McManus of the Denver Broncos.
Now you may ask why would I give the somebody on the other team, not to mention a kicker, a fist bump? Well out of everybody on both teams, the dude was nails.
He connected on 6 for 6 (yup, you read that right folks) on field goal attempts, including two 50+ yard field goal attempts. McManus accounted for all 18 of the Broncos points in this one and pretty much single-handedly won the game for his team. On those two 50+ yard attempts (52 and 54 respectively), it looked like he could have hit those from 60+ yards out and still make it. Okay, I might be exaggerating on that part but you get the idea.
Now on the Patriots side, I gotta give a Fist Bump to their red zone defense.
The Broncos had two opportunities to get into the end zone for the game (once in the 2nd quarter at the New England 8 and once in the 3rd quarter at the New England 4). But the defense was able to buckle down and force their opponent to settle for 2 chip shot field goals instead. Had the Broncos were able to score touchdowns on each of those drives, the game’s outcome would be a lot different so I guess kudos to that.
The Meatball of the Game
There were a lot of meatballs to go around this time around so we’re gonna do this in rapid fire mode.
Meatball #1 goes to the Patriots rushing offense. Stale, inept, and just boring to watch. The only big yardage play came on a big scramble by Newton. Hell, if you take away Cam Newton’s 76 yards rushing, Patriots running backs (Damien Harris, Rex Burkhead, and James White) combined for Just ugly.
Meatball #2 goes to the Patriots passing attack. Again, very uninspiring. Way too much dinking and dunking. Not to mention that the Patriots committed all 3 of their turnovers on passing plays (2 interceptions by Newton and a fumble by TE Ryan Izzo)
Meatball #3 goes to the Patriots rushing defense. You let a guy in Phillip Lindsey, who was coming off IR after being on there for 3 weeks with a turf toe injury, to run for 100+ yards (101 yards to be exact) and have over 4 yards per carry (4.4 yards to be exact)? Wow, what the hell happened?
Meatball #4 goes to Broncos head coach Vic Fangio’s play calling on Denver’s last two full possessions in the 4th quarter. You’re up by 9 with less than 8 and a half minutes left in the quarter, you’re able to run all over the Patriots defense…and you try throw deep passes down the right sideline not once but twice?!
The first interception was whatever, Pats CB J.C. Jackson made a great play. The second interception…what the hell were you thinking Fangio?! You should have run the ball to eat up some clock and force the Patriots to use their timeouts. How stupid do you have to be to chuck the ball down the field on the first play of the drive?!
Fangio, you are so effing lucky your defense bailed you out.
Play of the Game
Unfortunately, there was really no play worthy of this honor. Better luck next week I suppose.
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