Patriots Absent in Third Quarter, And it Cost Them

Christine Roy
October 21, 2013 at 11:18am ET

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Rob Gronkowski was finally back on the field Sunday but unfortunately, it wasn't enough as the injury plagued Patriots fell to the New York Jets in overtime. The third quarter was an embarrassment as the team started the second half with an interception followed by three straight three and outs. They had led 21-10 at halftime but any momentum that was created was clearly lost.

Aqib Talib stayed home for this trip and his presence was sorely missed. Jeremy Kerley beat up on the secondary with 8 catches on 10 targets for 97 yards and a touchdown. The Jets were picking up third and longs all afternoon as the secondary struggled and the linebackers adjusted to a Jerod Mayo-less team. The Jets were 11 for 21 on third down conversions while the Patriots were just 1 for 12. The Jets also rushed the ball 52 times for 177 yards, most of which was right up the middle. With rookie defensive tackle Joe Vellano stepping in for the big Vince, you can expect more teams to challenge him and run straight at the Patriots defense. The injuries on defense are obviously big losses and overcoming them is going to take more than believing in the "next man up" philosophy Bill Belichick has subscribed to.

Rob Gronkowski was back on Sunday but it wasn't enough as the Patriots fell to the Jets in overtime.
(USA TODAY Images)

Offensively, the Patriots have gotten into a bad habit. There are two halves to every game and for the Pats, a different team comes to play in the third quarter. In four out of their seven games this season, the Patriots have not scored any points in the third quarter. In each of the other three games, the offense only managed a field goal in the third. Not a habit you want to get into. We saw the New Orleans Saints score a quick 10 points to start the second half last week and this week the Jets put up 17 third quarter points. With Tom Brady as your quarterback, Gronk back in the fold, Julian Edelman stepping up with big plays and the rookie receivers finally getting on track, there is no excuse for a goose egg. It's time Josh McDaniels rethinks his play calling.

The Patriots start so strong, it's a wonder what happens in that locker room during halftime. Do defenses figure something out they didn't see on tape before or do the Patriots just get comfortable? The Patriots are averaging 14 points in the first half so far this season. Compare that to the 7 points they are averaging in the second half this season. What gives? Yes adjustments are made at halftime but there is no way the Patriots aren't adjusting just as their opponents are. The difference is the Patriots are not adjusting effectively. Instead of coming out swinging, they're practically limping out for the second half leaving any fire or momentum in the locker room.

This trend the Patriots have found themselves in is concerning. The effort against the Jets was disappointing to say the least. The defense gave up two huge third downs including a third and 21. The offensive line struggled as Brady was sacked four times for a loss of 23 yards and the team as a whole played sloppy with seven penalties for 100 yards. You can blame it on a blown call by the referee but at the end of the day, the Patriots didn't play to win. The defense has some big shoes to fill and once again, the offense has their work cut out for them. Hopefully next week against Miami the Patriots can play a complete game and give the full 60-minute effort Belichick is looking for.