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NEAR MISSES: Four Plays That Could Have Changed the Game for the Patriots

Ian Logue
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December 7, 2015 at 9:07 am ET

NEAR MISSES: Four Plays That Could Have Changed the Game for the Patriots

🕑 Read Time: 4 minutes

Sunday’s loss to the Eagles was certainly disappointing, as the Patriots were in control of the game early on before it all fell apart and it will likely be looked at as a game full of plays that quite a few players wish they could have had back.

After rewatching Sunday’s debacle there were certainly several that stood out, and in a game that sometimes comes down to a few plays here and there that end up potentially being the difference, here’s a quick rundown of four that several Patriots were so close to making but weren’t able to and they ended up being ones that will likely be frustrating to watch in the film room.

1) Scott Chandler’s inability to snag a throw from Brady in the closing minute in the first half on 3rd-and-5:

With the final seconds ticking away in the first half and the ball at their own 38-yard line, Tom Brady was facing a 3rd-and-5 as New England was methodically working their way up field for what would most likely have been a potential field goal attempt at the end of the half.  With Chandler lined up in the left slot, the tight end ran an out pattern and had good separation, with Brady firing the ball his way near the sideline.  The ball was thrown high and slightly behind him and Chandler left his feet, turned his body back and was in position to make the catch.  Unfortunately he couldn’t quite come down with it.  Oddly enough, one thing that was also discussed at the time by the announcers was, based on the path of Brady’s throw, whether or not the ball could have also potentially been for Keshawn Martin, who was deeper downfield but also running a sideline route.  But nevertheless Chandler had the ball in his hands and couldn’t quite hold on.  That forced New England to punt, and the Eagles would end up blocking it and returning it for the touchdown.

2) Duron Harmon’s Near Interception:

After the Patriots couldn’t get much going on their opening possession to start the second half, the Eagles went to work and quarterback Sam Bradford threw a pass over the middle to Zach Ertz on the first play to start the drive that sailed high and off of Ertz’s finger tips.  The ball ended up in the hands of a diving Duron Harmon, who appeared to get his fingers underneath it despite the fact the officials ruled the pass incomplete.  That would have potentially given the football to New England inside the Eagles 30-yard line and, if nothing else, possibly lead to a field goal.  The biggest problem was that Bill Belichick didn’t get much time to find out if he should challenge it because the Eagles hustled to the line and would go on to run another play and it ended up being a moot point.  But a turnover at that point might have changed the momentum of the game and it certainly looked close enough where Harmon had made his fourth interception of the year.

3) Danny Amendola’s drop in the third quarter: 

On the ensuing drive, the Patriots missed what could have been another game-turning play after Brady and Danny Amendola nearly connected for what will likely be one of the most frustrating near-misses of the entire afternoon.  After the pass protection began to break down on a 1st-and-10 with just under 9:30 to go in the 3rd quarter, Brady rolled to his right and Amendola, who had been breaking across the field to the left, stopped and cut his route back to try and help Brady out after seeing his quarterback start to scramble.  Amendola turned upfield and Brady lofted a perfect throw right to Amendola, who caught the ball in stride, only to lose it as he was tucking it away.  If Amendola catches it cleanly and kept his feet, the veteran receiver likely would have scored, as the he lost the ball at about the 10-yard line and had plenty of room in front of him to head for the pylon and dive in for the touchdown.  If that play gets made, the 100-yard interception return for the touchdown, which happened a few plays later, doesn’t happen, and that’s one that will likely haunt both of those two players in the film room.

4) Rob Ninkovich Missing a Sack on a 3rd-and-3 with 13:05 to go:

Facing an important 3rd-and-3 at the Patriots 48-yard line, the Eagles had already put together a solid drive coming off of Tom Brady’s second interception, which came just one play after he made a reception that electrified the stadium and had New England seemingly on a path toward getting back into the football game.  Instead, Brady was picked off in the end zone and the Eagles had already marched their way down the field into Patriots territory.  Now with the Eagles again on the move, Ninkovich missed a potential sack that would have ended Phildelalphia’s drive and forced a sure punt.  The veteran linebacker blew through the center of the Eagles’ offensive line but over-pursued and Bradford slid to his right, evading Ninkovich and throwing a pass downfield in which Malcom Butler would be called for pass interference.  That kept the drive going, and Jordan Matthews would later catch a touchdown that essentially put the game out of reach, ending a string of 35-unanswered points by the Eagles.

Despite the final result, this football team will have to have a short memory as they’ll now have to turn their attention to preparing to head out to Houston for a battle with the Texans next Sunday night out at NRG Stadium.

READ NEXT:
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About Ian Logue

Ian Logue is a Seacoast native and owner and senior writer for PatsFans.com, an independent media site covering the New England Patriots and has been running this site in one form or another since 1997.


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