Belichick says a little bit more about Sunday’s loss (but nothing about Dion Lewis)
On Sunday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn’t have much to say about the 34-10 loss to the Titans. On Monday, Belichick had a little more to say.
Strangely, he had nothing to say about the comments from former Patriots running back Dion Lewis, who had the line of the day -- and who also said that physicality will cause the Patriots to fold. (Based on the transcript circulated by the team, Belichick even more strangely wasn’t asked.)
As to how the blowout in Nashville happened, it boiled down to the Titans getting a lead (and thus being able to rush the passer) and the Patriots falling behind (and thus not being able to rush the passer).
“Quite obviously, the game situation has a lot to do with that,” Belichick said regarding the inability to place consistent pressure on Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota. “When you’re behind and you’re throwing a lot, like we were yesterday, they were going to get more rush opportunities and get more pressure. When they’re ahead, they can play an offense that is more balanced or maybe even a little more favorable to the run and there were less opportunities, and certainly less predictable opportunities, because of the scoring situation and vice versa. When you’re playing from behind, you don’t have a lot of opportunities to rush the passer. You know, we sacked Mariota on a third down play at the end of the third quarter, somewhere in there, but we didn’t create enough of those situations and didn’t do well enough in what we did. That’s a big part of it is opportunities, and we’ve got to do better with the opportunities we have, obviously, however many there are.”
The pressure on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady resulted in Brady completing 21 of 41 passes for 254 yards, with a passer rating of 70.6. The lack of pressure on Mariota allowed him to complete 16 of 24 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns, which translates to a passer rating of 125.0.
It was Brady’s worst statistical performance since last December, when his passer rating dipped to 59.5 in a 27-20 loss to the Dolphins.
Yes, it would be unwise to write the Patriots off after Sunday’s loss. But the defeat puts a major crimp in their effort to continue a string of first-round byes that dates back to 2010 and AFC title game appearances that dates back to 2011. The Chiefs now have a two-game lead for the No. 1 seed in the conference, the Chargers (if they can jump the Chiefs) are also in position for the top seed, and the Steelers are suddenly in play for the No. 2 seed.
We’ve nevertheless seen this movie before. Repeatedly. The Patriots tend to find a way off the mat quickly, on those rare occasions when a lucky punch puts them on the canvas.