By: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
September 18, 2005

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CHARLOTTE, NC -- Make enough mistakes during a game in the National Football League and you'll lose.

Just ask the New England Patriots, who made more than their fair share on Sunday during their 27-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Winning three of the last four Super Bowls, the New England Patriots had gotten pretty good at forcing mistakes by other teams and walking off the field victorious. People would talk about how the Patriots didn't beat that team, but that the other team simply beat themselves and that's the reason why New England won.

Well, now the Patriots are that other team.

Twelve penalties. Six false starts. Three turnovers. It's amazing they were even within the 10-point margin that they were after losing 27-17 against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Each one of these miscues for the most part caused problems for New England.

The first penalty for New England came on the first play of the game. Matt Light was called for a false start which put the Patriots in a first and long right off the bat. An incompletion, a run for all of three yards by Corey Dillon, followed by another incompletion by quarterback Tom Brady lead to the first punt of the game for New England. It didn't seem like a big deal but it ended up setting the tone for the game.

On the ensuing possession rookie Logan Mankins would be the next Patriot called for a false start. Fortunately for Mankins Brady would later connect with Deion Branch on a 15-yard completion to offset the penalty. Luckily again no harm was caused by the miscue, but on Carolina's ensuing possession New England would finally get burned.

Facing a third and 10 at their own 33, Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme was intercepted while trying to connect with wide receiver Keary Colbert by Patriots defensive back Duane Starks. What seemed like another timely turnover by the Patriots defense was quickly called back after linebacker Roosevelt Colvin was called for an "illegal use of hands' penalty. While Carolina would end up being forced to punt it squandered what would have been terrific field position for the Patriots offense.

Thankfully Brady would connect with wide receiver Troy Brown on a miscue by Carolina. On the play the Panthers double-teamed Deion Branch on a slant and Brown, who was in the slot, drifted outside and was wide open. Brady found him and Brown scampered 71 yards before being hit by Ken Lucas on the play. The 34-year old Brown got up and walked away while Lucas stayed down. One play later Brady found Graham all alone in the endzone for the touchdown.

The Panthers would answer with a touchdown of their own, and after the two clubs traded punts another New England penalty would end up leading to points for the Panthers.

Facing a 2nd-and-1 at the Carolina 23, as you would have thought New England handed off to running back Corey Dillon who was stopped short of a first down. Unfortunately on the play Dan Klecko, who had come into the game to lead block for Dilllon, was called for an offensive holding penalty which backed New England up 10 yards. Now facing a second and 11 it forced Brady into a passing situation of which he was intercepted by Will Witherspoon. Had Klecko not committed a penalty, the odds are pretty good that the Patriots would have again run Dillon and either gotten a first down, or punted. Unfortunately the turnover gave the Panthers good field position and eventually lead to a field goal for Carolina.

On the ensuing kickoff Kevin Faulk was called for an offensive holding penalty, backing the Patriots up from their own 38 back to their own 26. In a game of field position New England would later punt, and a 76-yard punt return gave the Panthers the ball at the Patriots 13.

The next penalty gave the Panthers a touchdown instead of a possible field goal. Facing a 3rd and 7 at the Patriots 10 Eugene Wilson was called for pass interference in the endzone, giving the Panthers 1st and goal at the one. After that it took just one play for Carolina to punch it in and give them a 17-7 lead.

On the second play of the second half came New England's next penalty, with safety Rodney Harrison ripping off the helmet of Panthers running back Stephen Davis after meeting him in the backfield. It was a stupid penalty, and the 15-yard assessment helped put the Panthers in field goal range, with John Kasay booting a 52-yard field goal to put Carolina up 20-7.

The next penalty for New England thankfully didn't lead to any serious problems. Russ Hochstein was called for a false start, but luckily on the next play facing a blitz the Patriots called a screen pass and running back Kevin Faulk gained 22 yards. The play led to a field goal for New England.

On their ensuing possession Hochstein was again called for a false start, putting them in a first and 15. After two straight incompletions, it put them in third and long, and that allowed Carolina to blitz quarterback Tom Brady and force a turnover. On the play Panthers defensive end Mike Rucker hit Brady and forced a fumble, which was recovered by Julius Peppers. Four plays later the Panthers scored, putting them up 27-17.

An offensive holding penalty on New England's next play from scrimmage again made it difficult to mount a comeback. Dillon would be called for the holding penalty costing them 10 yards, and on the next play Daniel Graham would be called for a false start. It put the Patriots in yet another third and long and lead to a punt for New England.

Penalties. They're typically a big problem and as you can see were a problem yet again on Sunday. Mistakes typically lead to lost opportunities which eventually lead to the Patriots loss on Sunday. Brady told reporters after the game that both he and the rest of his team have plenty of work ahead of them.

"When you don't play well you're going to lose," Brady told the media after the game. "It's not like things correct themselves, you've got to go out there and work hard to correct them and that's what we've to start to do, starting tomorrow."


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