Posts Tagged ‘2012 Season’

Fourth Quarter Woes Continue for the Patriots

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Okay, so it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these postings.  A really, long while.  But for some reason I felt compelled to start writing a few entries again.

This came after yet another putrid Boston Red Sox season, and now as the New England Patriots are 3-3 in what was supposed to be the easiest NFL schedule for 2012 after losing in the final minutes to the Seattle Seahawks.  Let’s tackle the Patriots first, shall we.

It would be easy to call out the curse of east coast teams traveling to Seattle, where all never seem to do well.  Or the fact that they are known for the twelfth-man for causing visiting teams fits.  But this is a game that the Patriots should have won, yet let if sputter away in grand fashion.  And what was once their bread-and-butter, winning these type of games from behind, is now just something of the past.  Like the 2004 Super Bowl winning season.

Since then, their offense has ramped up as Tom Brady morphed from a really good possession quarterback to one of the best offensive quarterbacks of all time.  And the defense, which was really the reason for all of the Super Bowl wins, has just gotten worse as time has moved on.

Yes it has become a “pass happy” league where many teams are trying to find quarterbacks who can heave the ball and rack up tons of yards.  Lots of teams are trying to go that way too.  But there can only be two teams that can make the Super Bowl each year.  And while you can somehow make it there with the worst defense in the league, chances are you aren’t going to win it.

But to me, the hardest part to watch hasn’t been their defense, but their fourth quarter offense.  It seems now that there is no score too big that the Pats offense should be racking up as quickly as possible.  That’s because there always seems to be those terrible drives that make the Pats go three-and-out, just to give the ball back to the other side with plenty of time left.

That was the beauty of the older teams with not that much offensive star power to them: they could close out games.  To me, if that Seattle game was like it used to be, that sure they would make it a six-point game with 7:21 left in the game.  But then the Patriots would just have one of those 15-play drives that would only result in a 25 yard field goal, but make it a 2 possession game with less than a minute left.

But now we’re getting intentional groundings at key moments (remember the first possession in the Super Bowl?), interceptions, missed receivers and three-and-outs.  Even in the win over Denver, New England tried to convert a 4th-and-5, and the worst possible outcome happened: Brady was sacked and fumbled for even a bigger loss.

I don’t think that it has to be a shootout for the offensive-based Patriots to win, but more than anything else, just win the time of possession.  There are now a plethora of runnings options (Woodhead, Ridley, and Bolden) to use to keep the chains moving and the clock winding down.  Bring back the days of Clock Killin’ Corey Dillon.

Yes, it’s tough to admit this, but Brady is getting old.  He’s still really (, really, really) good, but having to keep putting all scoring and possession responsibilities solely on his shoulders, just to erase the defense will begin to make it tougher as this and other seasons go on.

That all being said, even at 3-3, I think they’re still okay.  New England still has an easy schedule coming up as well as playing in what many deem as an easy AFC East.  I still think they’ll make the playoffs, likely winning their division, but how far they can go from there, to me, comes down to if they can figure out how to close out these games.