Each week I am going to look back,Â and give you six takeaways I got from watching the Patriots game. I want this to be a balanced post so I am going to give you an equal share of the positive and theÂ negative takeaways in this match-up for the Pats. Since the Patriots lost, the negatives have to come first.
1. The Patriots failed to contain Cam Newton in the pocket. A major concern in this game was to prevent Newton from getting outside of the pocket, and running the ball. Well, he did that well last night, and a few carries led to key first downs for the Panthers.
I do have to give credit though to Newton, who showed why he is a serious threat to become an elite quarterback. The Patriots should have done better on some runs, but their were others that there was nothing they could have done, because of the talent that Newton possesses.
2. The fumble by Stevan Ridley really hurt the Patriots in this game. There is no way getting around the fact that Ridley has a fumbling issue, and this game it really cost the Patriots points, as he gave up the ball in the red-zone.
Each team had serious time consuming drives, and this fumble took at least three or possibly seven points off the the board for the Patriots. He was benched for awhile in this game, but I was glad he came back in later. Ridley is a talent, but until he fixes the fumbling problems, he will not be the complete running back he should be.
3. The pass protection in the final drive broke down. Honestly, I thought the offensive line did a decent job protecting Tom Brady for the majority of the game, but on that final drive the protection struggled a great deal against an aggressive defense.
I am not used to seeing the offensive line struggle the way it has this season. They needed more from this line late in the game.
1. Shane Vereen made a difference in his return to the offense. Vereen was used often in the passing game, as he ended with eight receptions for sixty five yards. He was key player on third down, and reminded me of a young Kevin Faulk. The return of Vereen should pay off big time as the season goes on.
2. Tom Brady proved he is still one of the best in the game. This game became a battle of the quarterbacks, and Brady was up for the challenge. He was extremely accurate most of the game, and did everything he could to help the Patriots try to win. He threw for 296 yards, and was 29-40, with a passer rating of 91.2 in this game.
3. Â The Patriots defense stops the run against the running backs. I already talked about the problem in stopping the running of Newton, but the Patriots defense did a nice job against the running backs. The Patriots held the three Carolina running backs to a total of 41 yards, with only a 2.56 yards per carry average which is excellent. This was an improvement for the Patriots defense.
In concluding, this was a disappointing loss for the Patriots, because I thought overall this was a well played game by both teams. In the end, one team made just a few more plays than the other.
However, there are serious positives to take out of this game, and I mentioned them above, regardless of how the game ended. You can build on these positives as we head into the stretch run of the season.