The Patriots are very lucky with the win that was handed to them at what looks likely to be the turning point of the season. I say this because the Patriots looked like they were completely on the ropes. After a tough loss Sunday, Oct. 8, the Patriots were forced to play on a quick turnaround on Thursday vs. The Buccaneers and came out on top 19-14.
THE KICKER: Tampa Bay kicker Nick Folk missed three attempts on Thursday, which turned out to be the difference in this game. A 56-yard attempt and a 49-yard attempt are both difficult kicks, but as a professional, Folk should have the ability to make at least one of them. Finally, the third failed attempt from 31 yards is unacceptable. Thirty-one yards is less then an extra point attempt at 33. Tampa Bay is likely to be questioning their choice in kicker with the week and a half off.
THE PASSER: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is not slowing down. Brady threw for 303 yards, giving up his first interception of the season, which is impressive for a 40-year-old man. He led his team to victory behind a few blundered kicks. Although throwing for so many yards, the Pats were not able to put up as many points as they had hoped. Brady was quoted in a post-game interview saying, “I wish we could have scored more points offensively, but defense really held their own,” which leads me to my next point.
THE DEFENSE: After a perfect display of defensive meltdown last Sunday playing the Panthers, the Patriots’ defense showed improvement. When asked about how he felt about his defense on Thursday, Head Coach Bill Belichick was quoted in a post-game interview saying, “We responded… They had 100 yards in the first half. They moved the ball some. We made some plays. They made some plays, (giving up) a lot fewer points, you got a chance to win.” This was no easy task for the Patriots either, facing the National Football League’s (NFL) number three ranked quarterback Jameis Winston.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This game came down to one thing, and that was kicking. In the fourth quarter, Jameis Winston connected with Cameron Brate, which cut New England’s lead to 16-14 with 2:09 left in the game. After this, Gostkowski was able to regain the lead with field goal, forcing the Bucs to go from there own 25-yard line to the Patriots’ 19-yard line, finishing the game with an incomplete pass. The Patriots scraped by on this one, maybe by God himself or maybe by fate. Although they came out with a win, it was not a pretty one by any means. When it comes down to it, if Nick Folk was able to do his job, the Bucs would have likely won this game. As scary as this might all sound, this all is not so bad for the Patriots.
They only really had three days to prepare for this game, so that means they had only three days to try and fix all of the defensive problems.
They were able to come out on top, and now the Patriots have a week and a half to prepare for their next matchup. This includes time to get everyone back and healthy, including Rob Gronkowski.
This is becoming a perfect, typical New England Patriots season, starting off rough, making some adjustments and moving towards their winning ways.
Think about this. It is only October, and I have plenty of fans (non-Patriot fans) talking to me and telling me that this is the fall of the Patriots. People are saying Matt Patricia is not the defensive mastermind everyone thinks he is, and other the bad comments people want to make about the team. Let’s be real everyone; do we really need to do this every year? The Patriots are still going to win their division, and they are still going to be a hot playoff contender because they always are and that’s how it is. I’m sorry to all the Giants fans who are chirping me about how “terrible” and “overrated” the Patriots are. I guess it must make them feel better about being 0-4. If the Patriots are still struggling after Halloween and into November, give me all you got. But that is not going to happen. The Patriots will be there come December because that’s what they do.
Paul Bean can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org