Monday, January 25, 2016

Lucid thoughts on the Patriots' AFC championship loss in Denver

I wish the Patriots had never called a single running play.  They were all just wasted downs.

Even though they didn't convert either time, going for it on fourth down on the two unsuccessful late drives was the right move.  If they'd kicked a field goal they still needed a touchdown anyway.  When you're that close with so little time left, you try to get that touchdown.

It was amazing that Stephen Gostkowski made it this long without missing an extra point.  Not just his unbreakable NFL-record streak dating back to 2006, but this year alone.  Only four other regular kickers were perfect all season on the new long extra points, and none of them were even close to Gostkowski's 55-for-55.  Mason Crosby was second at 39-for-39.

If you ask me, New England lost the game when they decided not to play offense at the end of the first half.  The Pats got the ball at their own 12-yard line trailing 14-9 with 2:26 to go.  They chose to run on first down and let the clock tick away till the two-minute warning.  Their attempt to kill the clock before halftime eventually failed, and the Broncos kicked a field goal anyway.  If the Patriots use their regular offense there instead, maybe they go down and score, maybe they don't.  But, there's also a good chance they move the ball and stop Denver from scoring.

Then, behind 17-9, the Pats got it back again with 33 seconds remaining at their own 20-yard line.  Why not throw a pass or two and see if you can get in field goal range?  Instead, they knelt on the ball.

Two possessions they just gave away.  If they get a field goal on either, or just hang on to the ball long enough to prevent the Broncos field goal, it's a totally different game.

I wish they'd had some sort of trick play in the bag for the two-point conversion--something they'd been saving all year for that situation.  Off the top of my head, how about a reverse to Julian Edelman who then tosses the ball to an open guy in the end zone when the defenders step up to keep him from crossing the goal line?

And finally, I'm really not looking forward to two weeks of hype surrounding Peyton Manning and how he got Denver back to the Super Bowl.  The Broncos win had nothing to do with him.  Their defense gets 100 percent of the credit.

If Manning had been good yesterday his team would've won by two or three touchdowns.  He took brutal sacks.  He had no chance on third and longs, to the point that Denver just ran the ball up the middle to improve punt position.  Manning missed open guys all day, including in the end zone.  He couldn't get a single first down on two possessions late in the fourth quarter, giving the Pats two extra chances to tie the game.  His offense managed only 12 first downs and 244 total yards for the entire game.  The Broncos won in spite of Manning, not because of him.


  1. Agreed, we just declared him 2016 Joe Flacco.

    1. Hopefully they'll get smashed by Carolina and that won't be an issue.

    2. Great insights as usual, Mark. The opening line for 50 has the Broncos getting 3.5... If that line doesn't swing more towards Carolina by gameday I'll be shocked.

    3. Thanks, appreciate it. Interesting screen name, do I know you?


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