The Patriots’ offense struggled mightily in their loss to the Broncos on Sunday, failing to reach the end zone until mid-way through the fourth quarter. It was the worst that Cam Newton has looked in his short Patriots career, thanks in no small part to some spotty play from a banged up offensive line.
Newton threw a pick on his first drive of the game, when his pass was tipped at the line and then intercepted by a diving DeShawn Williams. Right as it appeared Cam was starting to find a rhythm in the second quarter, a botched snap by Joe Thuney in the red zone set them back 15 yards. As a result, they had to settle for a field goal to finally get on the board with 5:24 remaining in the first half.
Defensively, New England appeared to embody their old “bend but don’t break” approach, holding Denver to six field goals but no touchdowns through the first three quarters. The score was 18-3 Broncos after Brandon McManus’ converted his sixth attempt of the day with 42 seconds left in the third, which means the Patriots should have been getting blown out by way more if it weren’t for those five impressive defensive stands in the red zone.
Unfortunately the third quarter also brought more of the same for New England’s offense. The fumble by Ryan Izzo on what should have been a big third-down conversion was another momentum-killer. On their next possession, Cam threw his second pick of the day. The first touchdown for either team came midway through the fourth quarter when the Pats were finally able to piece together a solid drive, highlighted by a 19-yard pass to Damiere Byrd and 38-run by Newton.
Up until that point, New England’s offense was just as bad as they were with Brian Hoyer at the helm a couple weeks ago. The lack of practices due to the recent positive Covid tests was strikingly evident, as was the effect that injuries have had on the offensive line. We also saw the issue of having a mediocre receiving corps rear its ugly head once again.
At 2-3, the Patriots are now under .500 through five weeks for the first time since 2002. They’ll be back at an empty Gillette to take on Jimmy Garoppolo and the 2-3 49ers. Kick-off at 4:25.