By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
Sunday’s Patriots loss is one fans will talk about for a long time, but many likely wish they could forget. Before we fully put the 33-6 defeat in the rear view mirror, here are a few leftover thoughts:
1. This is the first time the Patriots have ever been 2-4 under Bill Belichick. It’s their 11th 2-4 start in franchise history. They’ve never reached the playoffs from 2-4, with their best finish a 9-7 season in 1988.
2. This is the Patriots first three-game losing streak since October 2002. In between that streak and this one, they won three or more consecutive games 28 times. After their last three-game losing streak, they won five of their next six games.
3. The bright spots for the Patriots offense all seemed to occur while running a no-huddle offense. In 11 plays, the unit averaged 6.2 yards per play while going tempo, and just 4.5 yards per play while huddling. Yet the team didn’t use much hurry-up after the opening quarter.
4. Over the last four games, teams have ran the ball more times than they’ve thrown it against the Patriots, 121 to 118. In 2020, teams have thrown the ball 58 percent of the time, so Patriots’ opponents are in stark contrast with the norm. With little depth at linebacker, expect that trend to continue.
5. There may have been a pissed turning point early in the game for the Patriots. On a 3rd & 3 on the Niners’ opening drive, Jimmy Garoppolo scrambled up the middle with linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley playing in a spy. It looked as though Bentley had Garoppolo squared up, but the former Patriots QB was able to wiggle by and pick up the first down. San Francisco went on to score and not look back.
6. As bad as things looked for the Patriots defense at times, they actually managed to relatively contain George Kittle. His five-catch, 55-yard performance was relatively minor compared to some of his other games this year. Covering tight ends continues to be a strength of this team.
7. Jimmy Garoppolo became the first quarterback drafted by Bill Belichick to beat him. He is the third former Belichick QB to win against the coach, following Vinny Testaverde and Drew Bledsoe. Belichick is now 11-5 all-time against his former quarterbacks.
8. After Patriots quarterbacks missed him twice yesterday, Julian Edelman has now been targeted on more eventual interceptions that any other Patriots receiver. Three of his 39 targets have gone the other way. Damiere Byrd and Jakobi Meyers have each had two targets picked of. N’Keal Harry, Ryan Izzo, James White, and Rex Burkhead each have had one target turn into an INT.
9. If you’re an X’s and O’s fan, see if you can watch some of the 49ers’ runs from an end zone camera. It really was a treat to see how well each one was designed and flowed in the course of action. We joke a lot about Kyle Shanahan and 28-3, but when it comes to designing an offense he knows what he’s doing. Maybe if he called some more of those runs at the end of the Super Bow….nah, not today.
10. Chase Winovich once again played a reserve role. His 13 snaps were the third-fewest of any defensive player, and most of them came on the first two drives. Bill Belichick said Monday afternoon he was not benched for a personal foul penalty called on the Devin McCourty interception, which makes it even more curious. That’s now two games in a row the Patriots have kept Winovich on the sidelines.
11. Cam Newton may have struggled in the game, but he said all the right things after the game. His leadership and command of the locker room may be why Bill Belichick announced the team will be sticking with him as the quarterback going forwards.
12. Dalton Keene is the first Patriots rookie tight end to catch a pass since Jacob Hollister in 2017. Those are the only two rookie tight ends to record a reception for the Patriots since 2010.
13. Defensive end Tashawn Bower played 27 snaps after being elevated from the practice squad on Saturday. That’s a career high for Bower, who hadn’t played in an NFL game in 23 months after an Achilles injury cost him his 2019 season.
14. I was very impressed with 49ers linebacker Fred Warner. One play he was locking up Julian Edelman in coverage, the next play getting after Cam Newton in the pocket. Seems like a through-and-through Patriots kind of player. The BYU product went in the third round of the 2018 Draft, 14 picks after the Patriots took Duke Dawson.
15. The Patriots had four players leave the game with injuries during the game. Lawrence Guy and Julian Edelman later returned, and Joe Thuney was diagnosed with a ‘minor’ low ankle sprain. There hasn’t yet been an update on N’Keal Harry, who left the game early with a head injury.
16. When the Bills and Patriots meet next week, it will be the first time the Bills have a better record than the Pats for a head-to-head matchup this late in the season since 2002. The 3-4 Patriots beat the 5-3 Bills 38-7 at then-Ralph Wilson Stadium to put an end to their four-game losing streak.