It seems this is not the first time we have questioned whether the Patriots are beginning a downhill slide into the end of the Tom Brady- Bill Belichik era. The Patriots have had their fair share of poor September performances in the past, and this September is right up there.
But this season is different, and coming from perhaps the biggest Patriot fan in New England, I mean it when I say: we should be petrified.
The Patriots are off to a 1-2 start after losing last night to the 0-2 Detroit Lions — in embarrassing fashion. It was the Patriots first back-to-back loss since 2014, when the Chiefs blew the Patriots out 41-14, sending the media into a premature frenzy.
This time, it is not premature.
The Lions beat the Patriots 26-10 in a game where from the initial kickoff the Patriots looked sluggish. Detroit controlled the time of possession, with their offense on the field for over 21 minutes of the 30 in the first half. The strategy to beat the Patriots is to keep Tom Brady on the sideline, and the Lions achieved that with flying colors.
The Patriots had three drives in the first half, all resulting in in a punt. They didn’t make a first down on any of those drives.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels seemed adamant on feeding the ball to rookie running back Sony Michel, even though the run game continued to falter every drive. Then came the swing passes to the rookie, which only resulted in more loss of yardage.
New England did not even manage to target tight end Rob Gronkowski until their first drive of the third quarter, a drive which coincidently ended in a James White touchdown.
The defense, on the other hand, was downright laughable against a poor Lions offense. Play after play the Patriot defensive line were driven backwards, often allowing the running backs of Detroit to gain five or six yards before being touched by a defensive player. Not only did the D-line struggle in the run game, but failed to pressure quarterback Matthew Stafford with any consistency.
The absence of former Patriot linebacker Jamie Collins was never more evident as it was Sunday night, as the running backs for the Lions repeatedly outran the linebackers of New England.
But the most notable moment of the night happened in the fourth quarter, when every Patriot fan saw a shocking reaction from Brady.
After making a poor decision and throwing a deep pass into double coverage that wound up being intercepted, Brady walked to the sideline, tossed his helmet over the bench, and sat in silence.
In the 19 seasons Brady has been at the helm of the Patriot offense, he has been known for his rallying cries in the fourth quarter, smacking his teammates shoulder pads, and getting in the faces of the players he needs to help him win games.
None of that happened Sunday night, as the former MVP watched his team put together a pathetic performance on both sides of the ball.
Ever wished you could start a career covering your favorite sport? Have you spent time wishing you could combine your love of sports with your passion for writing and reporting? CMN’s Sports Journalism course is an experiential learning program designed to give the practical experience you need to get your foot in the door in this ultra-competitive industry. You’ll get useful, direct feedback on your reporting, exposure to experienced sports journalists and influencers, and a great place to build your portfolio. You can get college credit, too. Get all the details on the CMN's Sports Journalism Course here.