Patriots

Takeaways from Patriots-Lions: Brady's frustration evident in one-sided loss

Takeaways from Patriots-Lions: Brady's frustration evident in one-sided loss

LIONS 26, PATRIOTS 10: Tom E. Curran's Best and Worst

DETROIT -- Here are five quick-hitting takeaways from the Patriots' one-sided loss to the Lions Sunday night . . . 

AND WINNER OF THE WORST RUN DEFENSE GOES TO...
The Lions came into Sunday as the worst-ranked run defense in football based on yards allowed per game. They were second-worst in yards allowed per carry. Know that hold-my-beer meme . . . ? The Patriots allowed the Lions to run at will in the first half, going into the locker room down 13-3 at the break. Detroit rushed for 81 yards on 15 carries, a 5.4 yards-per-carry average through two quarters. The Patriots came into the game allowing 4.7 yards per carry (25th in football) and it only got worse. They finished having allowed 159 yards on the ground, an average of 4.8 yards per carry.

ZERO TRACTION IN TRENCHES
If tough football teams are defined by their ability to run the ball and stop the run, the Patriots can't be considered a tough team at the moment. They came into the game averaging 3.7 yards per carry (25th in football) and it was more of the same in the first half against the Lions. They picked up just 15 yards on eight carries (1.9 yards per attempt), and seven of those carries -- resulting in 10 yards total -- belonged to Sony Michel. This looked like it should have been a breakout game for the rookie first-round pick, but he showed no burst and an inability to create yards on his own. His most glaringly bad carry of the first 30 minutes of Sunday night came with the Patriots running their two-minute drill and deep in Lions territory. Facing a third-and-one, Tom Brady opted to snap it quick, handing to Michel who had no chance at positive yardage. The Patriots lost two and ended up kicking a field goal.

MOVEMENT IN THE SECONDARY
With both Patrick Chung and Eric Rowe out, the Patriots started the game with Duron Harmon and Devin McCourty as their safeties. At corner, they went with Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty. Jonathan Jones was the first nickel back on the field. To start Detroit's third drive, rookie JC Jackson came onto the field for Jason McCourty. On his fourth play, the Lions ran a flea-flicker that drew a Jackson hold. He didn't see much action the remainder of the game. The Lions kicked a field goal to finish that drive and take a 13-0 lead. Cyrus Jones saw work on third downs as a slot defender, manning the second-level spot often taken by Chung defensively. 

BRADY FRUSTRATION EVIDENT
Tom Brady completed a beauty of a touchdown pass to James White in the third quarter -- stepping up to avoid the rush and throwing to open space with White blanketed by a defender -- but those moments of brilliance were short-lived at Ford Field. More common, signs of frustration from the Patriots quarterback, such as when Brady had to call timeout early in the third quarter on a first-down snap with the Patriots driving or when Michel dropped a second-down pass late in the same quarter. Against one of the worst defenses in football through two weeks, Brady must have felt like he had to be perfect. He didn't crack 100 yards passing until there were 12 minutes left in the game. 

YOUNG DEFENDERS' BRIEF MOMENTS OF COMPETENCY
Players often say plays will come in bunches. It didn't happen for the Patriots defense nearly often enough on Sunday night, but briefly, at the start of the the third quarter, that unit caught a gust of momentum. Deatrich Wise stuffed LeGarrette Blount for a loss of one and on the following play, Ja'Whaun Bentley picked a Matthew Stafford pass thrown deep down the middle of the field. That led to the drive capped by Brady's touchdown pass to White. Wise later had a sack, giving him 2.5 on the season. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Malcolm Butler gives great insight into Super Bowl XLIX interception

Malcolm Butler gives great insight into Super Bowl XLIX interception

The play never gets old (if you're a New England Patriots fan, anyway).

With 26 seconds remaining in Super Bowl XLIX and the Seahawks threatening to score the go-ahead touchdown, Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler jumped a slant route to intercept Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson at the goal line and clinch an improbable 28-24 win for New England.

 

So, how did Butler anticipate the play so well, and how did he know to make a bee-line toward the ball?

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NBC Sports' Liam McHugh asked Butler on Tuesday night during NBC Sports Network's re-broadcast of Super Bowl XLIX, and the now-Tennessee Titans cornerback admitted he thought Seattle would run the ball just like everyone else.

But Butler also noticed a subtle tell from Wilson.

 

"I learned a long time ago, if the quarterback is throwing the ball, I guess he’s going to favor the receiver or look at him or see what’s going on in the area," Butler told McHugh, "and I just felt like Wilson was just looking a little bit too much. And I think I just caught a little whiff of what he was going to do.

"So I just stared at my receiver and said if my receiver plants on the outside, I’m just going to go and just hope the ball is there. And when he planted, I took off. I just (saw) the ball and the ball was coming so fast I didn’t know how to catch it."

Butler also was uniquely prepared for the moment: The Patriots' scout team had run a similar passing play in practice leading up to Super Bowl week and actually beat Butler for a touchdown.

The undrafted rookie wouldn't make the same mistake twice, however, showing great anticipation and instinct to make one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history.

Tom Brady making his mark on Buccaneers: 'It's been fantastic,' says Bruce Arians

Tom Brady making his mark on Buccaneers: 'It's been fantastic,' says Bruce Arians

Tom Brady has had an eventful tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers despite the fact he hasn't played a single game for the franchise.

Of course, when Brady comes to town, every single move he and the team make will create headlines. It's all part of employing the greatest player in NFL history.

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The six-time Super Bowl champion's decision to join the Bucs has elevated the team's expectations to heights it hasn't seen in a very long time. The man tasked with getting the most out of Tampa Bay's very talented roster is head coach Bruce Arians, who's entering his second season with the franchise.

Arians recently made an appearance on the first episode of Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon's YouTube show titled, "Uncorked". He talked about the unique dynamic between a coach and a player of Brady's caliber, and it also sounds like he's impressed with the 42-year-old quarterback's impact so far.

"We got a great locker room, but to now get a guy that's been there, done it, six times, (he's) the G.O.A.T,?" Arians said. "When he talks, they listen. It's so different than a coach. I think for us as coaches, there has to be a bond between the coach and those guys so that you give them ownership. You ask them questions. How do you want to do things? So if they think they have a big hand in it, they send a message to the rest of the guys. They send your message to the rest of the guys. With Tom, it's been fantastic."

Brady isn't the first great quarterback Arians has coached. He also worked with Peyton Manning early in the future Hall of Famer's career with the Indianapolis Colts. Arians worked with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for many years, too. Arians was impressed with the way Manning led his teams, and he expects Brady to have a similar impact on the Bucs players.

"The way (Manning) commanded the room and the team was amazing," Arians said. "What he asked those guys to do. I'm sure Tom Brady has a lot of the same things. Just the little bit I've been around him so far, it's going to be the same way."

Manning left the Colts late in his career and signed with the Denver Broncos in free agency. He spent the last four years of his career playing for the Broncos, and with him the team reached two Super Bowls and won a championship in 2015 -- his final season. The Buccaneers are hoping a similar ending to Brady's career unfolds in Tampa Bay, and there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the Bucs' chances of contending for the Lombardi Trophy in 2020.