The New England Patriots suffered a tough loss yesterday, getting dominated by the Denver Broncos, as they march on to Super Bowl 48. As Bill Belichick said after the game, the Broncos were clearly the better team, which is why their season is still alive.
Shortly after the game ended, I posted five quick takeaways from the contest. Those can be read here. But if you want more analysis of this game, then you have come to the right place. Here is six additional thoughts from the 26-16 loss.
1. Tom Brady Plays “Okay”
After starting his playoff career an amazingThe New England Patriots suffered a tough loss yesterday, getting dominated by the Denver Broncos, as they march on to Super Bowl 48. As Bill Belichick said after the game, the Broncos were clearly the better team, which is why their season is still alive. 10-0, Tom Brady has only won eight of his last sixteen postseason contest. Many of those haven’t been his fault, as he has had to deal with a crappy defense for quite some time, but yesterday, he didn’t play well enough to get the win. It felt like a lot of his throws were off the mark early, including two huge overthrows, that could have changed the outcome of the game. He showed up in the fourth quarter, leading the Pats on a late comeback, but as he said after the game, they just dug themselves into too big of a whole, and they couldn’t get out of it.
2. Shane Vereen Shows Up, Danny Amendola Does Not
On a day where most of the New England offense decided to stay in Foxboro, Shane Vereen was one of the few guys that showed up. He amassed 93 total yards, and really made plays all game long. He averaged 8.5 yards per carry, and when he was asked to be productive in the passing game, he was there. I expect Vereen to play a huge role in this offense next season, as he proved that he is capable of doing some remarkable things on the field. Danny Amendola couldn’t gain any separation yesterday, as he was targeted only once. Amendola had an up and down 2013 season, and while I certainly expect him to be in Foxboro next year, he better learn to step his game up, for quarterback Tom Brady.
3. Julian Edelman, Austin Collie Pitch In Late
Julian Edelman was great all year long, so it shouldn’t have been that surprising to see him play well yesterday. He had 10 receptions, 89 yards, and a touchdown, as he was the only guy Tom Brady could consistently rely on, to get open in the passing game. Edelman will be free agent this offseason, and I think the Pats must make re-signing him a priority. What was a surprise, was seeing Austin Collie put together a solid game. He wasn’t expected to be a contributor at all this year, but he ended up making some key catches, in big moments. He finished this game with four catches for 57 yards.
4. Jamie Collins Emerging
Collins had a terrific outing yesterday, making plays in both the run game, and the pass game. He was given the assignment of covering tight end Julius Thomas for much of the game, and while Thomas did end up with good numbers (eight catches, 85 yards), I think Collins held up just fine. Thomas used his size advantage to make a few plays, but overall, I thought that Collins played a good game. Look for Collins to get a lot of playing time next year, as he proved that he is starting linebacker material.
5. Bad Defense
I covered this yesterday after the game ended, but the defense was just awful. I know that losing Aqib Talib hurts, but you have to be able to come up with a plan that enables you to stay in the game after he exits. Alfonzo Dennard and Logan Ryan were abused by Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas all game long, which was what ultimately lost the game for New England. When you combine that with a nonexistent pass rush, you will get a 500 yard performance every single time. Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich had to at least pressure Peyton to get him out of his rhythm, because he will shred you to pieces if he is given a clean pocket. One small positive that came out of their performance was the run defense. Holding Denver to an average of 3.8 yards per carry is something to be proud of, although it really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
6. Offensive Line Struggles
This group had been playing some good football as of late, in the run game, and in the passing game. But it fell apart yesterday, as they were dominated up front, not getting any push on the ground, and allowing Tom Brady to be sacked in two critical moments. Oddly enough, the sacks were given up Nate Solder and Logan Mankins, arguably New England’s two best lineman. The interior of the offensive line didn’t play well all year long, and I think the Pats will look for a replacements, this offseason.