Well, I did say Ray Rice needed to be stopped. The Patriots couldn’t even stop him on one play. 17 seconds in, the Pats were looking at a 7 point deficit following Rice’s 83 yard run, the first play from scrimmage in the game. Within 4 and a half minutes it was 14-0 as the Ravens marched in following a strip-sack of Brady at the NE 17. By the end of the first quarter the Ravens were up by 24 and the Patriots front office were starting the draft preparation. Boos rained down on the Patriots players as the turnovers kept flowing. In truth, the final score flattered the Patriots.
Inept is the word that springs to mind. I don’t even want to talk about it anymore. I’m with the boo-boys personally.
- Ray Rice ran for 159 yards and 2 TDs, with most of that coming on the 83 yard TD run on the first play
- Tom Brady finished with 23/42, 154 yards, 2 TDs and 3 INTs
- Julian Edelman had a good game, with 6 catches for 44 yards and 2TDs (Wes Welker II?)
- 17 of the Ravens’ first half points came from Tom Brady turnovers (2 of his 3 INTs on the day and the fumble)
- Joe Flacco only needed to throw 10 times (completing 4 for 34 yards and having 1 INT) as the Ravens ran for 234 yards
- The loss was the Patriots’ first home playoff loss since the 1978 divisional game vs the Oilers
What next for the Patriots?
I think this off-season is very important for the Patriots. The window of opportunity for this team to win another Superbowl lasts for maybe 3-4 more years until Brady’s play starts deteriorating/he retires/he is traded by Belichick (wouldn’t surprise me given Belichick’s policy of getting rid too soon rather than too late). The other pieces of the puzzle need to be put in place quickly before the window slams shut.
Over the coming months as free agency and the draft comes along I’ll discuss it further, but…
- Pass rush is key. The secondary isn’t amazing but it’s solid enough but the lack of a rush means they have to cover for far too long.
- Brady needs more receiving weapons. Moss is coming to the end (something I also want to discuss soon), Welker will probably start next season on PUP, Aiken is a special teamer and at TE Benjamin Watson could be on his way out.
- The O-line needs strengthening. Moss would be far more effective given more time to get open, that lack of time has contributed to Welker getting 123 catches because his routes get him open quicker.
- The D-line needs strengthening. The loss of Seymour might have been a good long-term move, but it hurt the Patriots this year. 234 yards rushing on Sunday was evidence of that.
- Leadership. This one is hard to solve. Free agents will likely be thin on the ground, you can’t draft experience, and nobody seems willing to step up. Mayo and Wilfork are quiet leaders, but there’s no Tedy Bruschi, no Rodney Harrison. In the Ravens game Kevin Faulk huddled the offense up and gave them a very passionate speech, and he also did some talking on the field, but he’s the last of a dying breed on this team, and the defense has nobody.
- This is another one that needs time to be talked about on its own, but I think the coaching needs looking at. Offensive and defensive play-calling have been questionable at best. Benjamin Watson came out after the game and said O’Brien was de-facto offensive coordinator, and you have to think he’s not doing a great job. Draw plays on 3rd and 20, no establishing the run, no variety, not a single play that’s tricked the opposition.