“From 56, on its way, it is…off the goal post, no good, you can hear the doink!” That was Al Michaels's call on NBC of Nick Folk’s missed kick that would have given the Patriots a late lead against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Instead, Brady was able to get a win against his ex-team.
There was no guarantee the Patriots were going to win even if Folk’s kick made it through the uprights. With two timeouts and 55 seconds remaining, it would have been very likely that Brady would have marched down the field and given his team an opportunity to kick a game-winning field goal. This brings up the question, why not go for it on fourth and three and try and run out more clock to take a more manageable game winning field goal? Bill Belichick addressed in the postgame press conference whether there was any consideration to go for it on the fourth down and his answer was simple: “I mean, not really.” Obviously, hindsight is 20/20, if Folk makes that kick and the Patriots defense holds up, then no one would question Belichick on his late game decision making on Sunday.
Nonetheless, it is time to move on from Sunday. The Patriots are now 1–3 and have to dig themselves out of a massive hole to even think about playoffs this year. However, the fact of the matter is that the Patriots are only a couple lost fumbles and a missed field goal away from being 3–1. Silly mistakes have killed the Patriots all season and Sunday was no exception. Here are some takeaways from week four, both good and bad.
Mac Jones Coming Out Party
Going into Sunday, the idea that Mac Jones could have outplayed Brady seemed like a pipe dream for any Patriots fan. However, on Sunday that dream became a reality as Jones was dealing in the pouring rain going 30–41 on pass attempts with two touchdown passes. Add all of that to the fact that it seemed like he was getting pressured every play and was sacked a total of four times. That game on Sunday should have had any rookie quarterback shaking in their boots, but for some reason Jones looked as if he was in his element. That is a very hopeful sign for the future of the Patriots.
Offensive Line Struggles
The Patriots offensive line hasn’t been 100 percent healthy since the first drive of the season against the Miami Dolphins. Since then, both tackles have seemed like revolving doors leading directly towards the quarterback and their interior linemen have been struggling with penalties as well.
Now it looks like the Patriots might be without guard, Michael Onwenu, and left tackle, Isaiah Wynn, this week against the Houston Texans as they have been placed on the COVID-19 list. The Patriots will have to reach deep into the offensive line depth chart this week in Houston, especially if Trent Brown remains out for a fourth straight week. Anyway, the Patriots cannot afford to allow Jones to be sacked four times again this week or else he won’t be able to hold up the entire season.
Ball security has plagued the Patriots season through four weeks. In week one, we saw Rhamondre Stevenson fumble on his first reception and he hasn’t played a snap since. Now, this week we saw JJ Taylor fumble when it seemed like the Pats were primed to extend their lead in the third quarter. It's safe to say Taylor was likely thrown in the doghouse with Stevenson after that fumble, as we saw Brandon Bolden take over the receiving back role late in that game. With James White on the shelf for the season, the Patriots could use some help at the running back position, and with Taylor losing a costly fumble, that could open the door for Stevenson to make a return versus the Texans.
The Patriots have been far from a sharp looking football team through the first month. However, in week four we saw a team that was able to compete with the defending Super Bowl champions while still not playing to their full potential. If the Pats can clean up their game, then there is still time for them to make some noise in the AFC.