Running into an ex always ends up being an awkward situation. You feel obligated to say hi and check in on their lives, but you have zero interest in how well they are doing without you. It’s even worse when their new partner in crime shows up.
Put that on national TV, and you have the NFL’s Game of the Year so far.
Tom Brady and his Bucs squeaked out a 19-17 win against his former team, the New England Patriots. Nick Folk kicked the potential 58 yard-game-winner off the post with under a minute left in the game. Belichick sent his kicking unit on the field in a downpour to secure the win; it cost him the game.
Three things remain on my mind after last night. Three wildly different thoughts give insight to how the Pats could have won the game and few positives moving forward. Unbuckle your seat belts and hop outside the box with me.
Belichick Should Have Reached Into His Bag Of Tricks For Some Safety.
This is unconventional but has been done by Belichick before. In the 3rd quarter, the Patriots punted from their five-yard line after yet another three and out. The Bucs gained possession around the Pats’ 40-yard line. They found the end zone a few plays later. The touchdown could have been avoided before the punt occurred.
It doesn’t sound very reasonable, but the Patriots should have allowed a safety by snapping it out of the end zone. Instead, the safety gives the Bucs a one-point lead, essentially a tie at this point of the game. The Patriots punt from their own 35-yard line, giving the Bucs the ball around the 20-30 yard line.
The defense played well all game containing the pass by making Brady uncomfortable in the pocket. Matt Judon, Jalen Mills, and Davon Godchaux forced the Bucs to make mistakes. They kept the Patriots in the game. This is not anything new to Patriots Nation.
The Defense Continues To Impress; Judon Leads By Example
Mac Jones played exceptionally on Sunday night. However, the defense allowed him to methodically run the offense, specifically the pass rush.
Matt Judon proved to fans that he is worth every penny of his contract. He steamrolled through linemen, eventually leading to a sack on the GOAT. Judon knocked Brady down twice, along with finishing with seven total tackles. He covers a lot of the field, similar to former Panthers’ LB Luke Kuechly.
Judon is not the only star on defense. J.C Jackson and the secondary deserves some praise too. Jackson did all he could by holding Mike Evans to only 75 yards receiving. They forced a lot of incompletions, most notably the potential game-clinching touchdown to Antonio Brown with a few minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots’ defense has not been the problem this season, neither has the leader of the other side of the ball.
Mac Jones Deserves Some Slack, Continuing To Outshine The Rookie QB Class
The Patriots hold a lousy record of 1-3, but that does not tell the whole story. The defense has done their job, why can’t the offense?
It has been evident that Josh McDaniels, offensive coordinator, has had Jones on a short leash. His play calls have done more bad than good. On Sunday night, they let Jones off that leash. It’s about time.
Jones completed a record of 19 consecutive passes. He looked comfortable in the pocket, slinging passes to receivers downfield. Jones threw one interception but tossed two touchdown passes. He made a few rookie mistakes, but overall impressed the Foxboro faithful.
The Patriots are fine; there is no need to panic. A missed field goal gave the Buccaneers the win. Mac Jones put fear into Brady and his boys on the final drive. A more aggressive play call may have created a different ending. I have a feeling this will not be the last time these two teams face off in 2021.
I will leave it at that.