Much of the blame for the Patriots 24-23 loss to the Seahawks is being pointed to the horrid secondary, but should they be the ones getting all the blame? No. In fact the bulk of the blame should be on Tom Brady and the offense. Going into the season there was no question the offense is much superior to the defense. You know what you have on defense is not very great, particularly in the secondary. On the other hand, on offense you know you have one of the best and most explosive groups in the league.
Leading 17-10 at the half and scoring only six points in the second half is unacceptable. When your defense forces three punts on three possessions from Seattle in the third quarter and you see the lead go from 17-10 to just 20-10, is again unacceptable. Only getting one first down on their final three possessions is once again unacceptable. The offense had plenty of opportunities to deliver the knockout punch, but failed to deliver, which should be where the bulk of the criticism should be.
Going along with the offenses poor play in the second half is the questionable play calling. When a team throws the ball 58 times there really shouldn’t be any second guessing when they do run the ball, but this is not the case with what took place on Sunday. Clearly the Patriots couldn’t get anything going on the ground as they totaled only 87 yards the entire game. Adding insult to injury Brandon Bolden was out for the entire second half with a shoulder injury. When the game was on the line offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels went away from the passing game and went with a running attack which was non-existent and thus could not put away the game when given numerous opportunities to do so.
Here is a look at a few of the questionable possessions and play calls during the second half:
Fourth quarter, Patriots leading 20-10, 12:31 remaining with the ball on NE 30.
- 1st and 10, NE 30: Brady pass incomplete to Lloyd
- 2nd and 10, NE 30: Brady completed pass to Lloyd for 23 yards.
- 1st and 10, SEA 47: Ridley run for no gain
- 2nd and 10, SEA 47: Brady completed pass to Woodhead for 22 yards.
- 1st and 10, SEA 25: Ridley run for four yards.
- 2nd and 6, SEA 21: Ridley run for four yards.
- 3rd and 2, SEA 17: Ridley run for no gain.
- 4th and 2, SEA 17: Field goal. 9:25 remaining
Looking back this drive which stalled was a killer. The Patriots could have scored a touchdown and gone up three possessions, leading 27-10 with just over nine minutes to go, but instead they settled for a field goal, keeping it a two possession game, which was just what the Seahawks needed. It didn’t make much sense to run the ball with Ridley three straight times inside the 25-yard line when they gained the prior 55 yards on the drive through the air and Ridley only ran for a total of 34 yards in the entire game. Why didn’t McDaniels keep the momentum going and the ball in Brady’s hands?
Fourth quarter, Patriots leading 23-17, 3:02 remaining with the ball on NE 41.
- 1st and 10, NE 41: Ridley run for 1 yard.
- 2nd and 9, NE 42: Ridley run for 1 yard.
- 3rd and 8: NE 43: Brady incomplete pass.
- 4th and 8: NE 43: Punt. 2:48 remaining.
All the Patriots needed on this possession, was one, maybe two first downs and the game would be over. Instead, the Patriots went three and out, only taking 14 seconds off the clock and giving the ball right back to the Seahawks. This possession followed the Patriots defense getting a three and out from Seattle’s offense. They did their part, the offense needed just one first down, and the No. 1 rated offense in the league couldn’t do it. Once again it comes down to play calling and why did McDaniels go to the run? While yes, the goal was to take time off the clock and force Seattle to use timeouts, but on the other hand getting a first down would do the same thing. With as poorly as they ran the ball in the game, why run the ball on first and second down? Run a conservative pass play such as a screen to either a wide receiver or running back. Run a short pass to Welker or Gronkowski. Keep the ball in the hands of the players who made plays in the game, not someone who averaged just 2.1 yards per carry in Ridley. Again, it comes back to the questionable play calling by McDaniels.
There is no denying the secondary played very poorly and deserves some of the blame, but the far superior unit had numerous chances to put the game away and failed, thus putting in the depleted defense in a position to fail, which they did. The bulk of the blame on this one should be on McDaniels and the offense, not the secondary.