Patriots need actual victories instead of moral ones

Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots
Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots / Adam Glanzman/GettyImages

Stop me if you've heard this before, but the Patriots held their own against one of the league's best only to come up short in their season-opening 25-20 loss to the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles.

Add it to the list that includes losses to Miami, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Green Bay, Minnesota and Cincinnati. Almost every time the Patriots have a chance to win a game late in the past few years, they have come up short.

It was fine when Mac Jones was a rookie, and the team was establishing a new identity in the post-Brady era. It's now year three, and the time for moral victories is over; the Patriots need actual victories.

Sure, there were plenty of positives to come out of the game; Mac Jones looked great, the defense held the Eagles in check, and even the offensive line held the vaunted Eagles pass rush in check. The Patriots did just about everything they could except for winning the game. No matter the year, the Patriots seem to find themselves with the same results, just with different ways of getting there.

In the past, it has been red-zone fumbles, missed field goals, and untimely interceptions. On Sunday evening, rookie receiver Kayshon Boutte failed to get his second foot inbounds for the second time in the game, just one mistake in a game full of them for the Patriots.

The Patriots put themselves in a quick 16-0 hole with turnovers on back-to-back plays early in the first quarter.

Some penalties prolonged Eagle drives, leading to points. Back-to-back holding calls pushed the Patriots out of field goal range, and Bill Belichick's strange decision to forgo a field goal on 4th and three from the Philadelphia 17-yard line, points which the Patriots probably would've liked to have later on. The mistakes, like moral victories, are starting to pile up around Gillette Stadium, and one has to wonder how much longer it can go on without actual wins.

The Patriots are now 7-0 in moral victories since Mac Jones took over as quarterback, but only 17-17 where it actually counts. Unless they want to be at home during the playoffs for the third time in the four seasons since Brady left, the Patriots better start winning.