By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
For the second week in a row, the Patriots played like a team that hadn’t been able to practice in over a month. However, unlike last week against Denver, this time that is hyperbole, not fact.
San Francisco dominated both sides of the ball as they came into Gillette Stadium and left with a 33-6 win. The loss dropped the Patriots to 2-4, and kicked off their first three-game losing streak since 2002.
At the center of the struggles was quarterback Cam Newton, who looked hesitant and unsure for the second straight game. He finished 9-of-15 for 98 yards and three picks.
Defensively, the Patriots struggled to set the edge. San Francisco rushed for 196 yards controlling the tempo of the game. When it was all set and done, the Niners had possessed the ball for 38:23, leaving the Patriots just 21:37 to work with.
The Niners got the ball to start and promptly marched 75 yards in nine plays. Garoppolo was 4-for-4 on the drive, which was finished off by Jeff Wilson punching the ball in at the goal line.
After the Patriots stalled on their first drive, San Francisco once again built momentum. They were able to convert a 2nd & 17, but JImmy Garoppolo threw a dart to Devin McCourty three plays later. It was McCourty’s second pick of 2020.
The Patriots were able to turn the mistake into points, but not without cost. After getting the ball deep into San Francisco territory, N’Keal Harry took a big hit on a 3rd & short play over the middle. He’d later head back to the locker room, as the Pats settled for a field goal to make it 7-3.
On the ensuing drive, Garoppolo & Co. managed to once again have their way with the Patriots defense in the middle of the field. However, a holding call in the red zone set them back and limited them to a field goal.
The first play the Patriots had the ball back, Cam Newton made a questionable decision, throwing to a double-covered Jakobi Meyers only to be intercepted by Fred Warner. That put the defense in a tough spot, having to turn around quickly to defend a short field. They were unable to do so, as Kyle Juszczyk punched the ball in five plays later to make it 16-3 (Robbie Gould missed the PAT).
After another quick three and out where Newton bounced a throw to an open Damiere Byrd on third down, San Francisco went 84 yards in seven plays, capping their drive with another Wilson touchdown.
One arm-punt interception from Newton later, the teams went into the half with the Niners leading 23-3.
The Patriots showed some signs of life coming out of the locker room, moving the ball 50 yards in eight plays. However, the drive stalled out after Newton was sacked, and they had to settle for just a field goal. The Niners responded with a six-play, 79-yard march capped off by Wilson’s third touchdown of the day.
Newton came back in to throw his third pick of the day. Targeting Julian Edelman for the first time, he threw the ball behind him on a crossing route. The ball bounced off Edelman’s back shoulder as he turned to make a play, bounced up in the air, and was intercepted. That turnover became a Robbie Gould field goal in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, making it a 33-6 game.
Jarrett Stidham replaced Newton on the Patriots’ next drive. The offense moved the ball 50 yards, mostly on the ground, before Stidham was picked off, targeting Julian Edelman. The teams would exchange one more punt each before the game came to an end.
The Patriots now head on the road for back-to-back divisional games against the Bills and Jets. Next week, they’ll meet division-leader Buffalo at 1:00 p.m. You can catch the call of that game on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com