From the Armchair: New England Patriots, Week 11
The Patriots offense overall played an excellent game. Brady was as sharp as he has been all season Monday night. The distribution was fairly even among all the targets. Shane Vereen returned after being away for an extended period and looked in mid-season form. However, the offense shot itself in the foot on two drives in the second quarter when Stevan Ridley fumbled and Logan Mankins had a personal foul. Both were long drives that should have ended in the end zone but all the Patriots would get was 3 points from them. Those points sure would have been handy at the end of the game.
I have mixed reviews for the defense in this game. This game marked the return of Aqib Talib from injury, saw Steve Gregory and Alfonzo Dennard sit out. Steve Smith made Talib look silly in the first half and even worse by the nonsense that followed a few plays. However, adjustments by the Patriots turned Smith into less of a factor the rest of the way. The biggest problem in the second half for the defense was not getting off the field on 3rd down. This has been plaguing them for weeks and I don’t see how this will not be a factor come next Sunday against the Broncos.
The only issue on Special Teams were the holds on both field goals seemed to be more eventful then necessary.
Give Carolina credit for a great win – they played well and deserved the win. Boston College Alum Luke Keuchly is a beast and is fun to watch. Cam Newton looks like he’s maturing into a top NFL quarterback. While the call or non-call for interference at the end of the game was bogus in my mind – the fact of the matter is the Panthers made more plays and the Patriots didn’t make enough. The bigger issue for me was their inability to force fourth downs in the second half. They had Carolina at 3rd and long several times and allowed too many big play first down conversions.
The road ahead:
Next up the Patriots travel home to face the Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on SNF. Should be another great game. The Pats offense better be ready to score in order to keep up with Manning – I’ll be shocked if this becomes a defensive struggle.