Patriots-Jets: Will Pats 4th Quarter Failures Continue?

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick

Photo by Andrew Choy via Flickr.

I wrote the post below this one prior to Sunday’s shit storm in Seattle (Let’s call it the Seahawkalypse).

I now think a lot of what I wrote might just be bullshit.

The Seahawkalypse made me conscious of something that’s been bugging me for some time.  The Patriots have become a team that just finds ways to lose.  Examples:

At Seattle – 10-14-12 – Pats lead 23-10 with 9:21 remaining…

If not for Brady’s two red zone misfires earlier in the game this lead is at least 29-10.  The offense goes into the tank for the rest of the game and the defense gives up 2 TDs to lose 24-23.

At Denver – 10-7-12 – Pats lead 31-7 with 4:42 remaining in 3rd quarter…

The Patriots tried to give this game back to the Broncos allowing 2 TDs in the final 20 minutes of play. The Pats offense once again went in the tank for the final 20 minutes of the game after scoring 31 points in the first 40 minutes.

Broncos RB Willis McGahee would not accept their charity as he dropped a crucial pass on 4th down and fumbled the ball back to the Pats in the red zone.  Pats win 31-21 despite shitting the bed on both sides of the ball in the last 20 minutes.

At Baltimore – 9-23-12 – Pats lead 13-0 at the end of the 1st quarter…

Pats blow this lead and re-establish a 30-21 lead with 14:00 left in the 4th.  The refs played a huge part in this melt down, but just the same, the Patriots offense once again disappears for the entire 4th quarter. Patriots lose 31-30.  You get the picture, s0 let’s just cut to the BIG one.

vs NYG – Super Bowl XLVI (wonder how long before NFL does away with roman numerals) – Pats led 17-9 with 11:20 left in the 3rd quarter…

Patriots don’t score another point largely due to Wes Welker’s wide open drop in the red zone of Brady’s somewhat off target pass with under 4 minutes to go in the game.  Giants put up 12 unanswered points to win 21-17, and I feel like I’m dying for the rest of the night.

The point is this:

This Patriots team can’t close.

They close on shitty teams like Buffalo and probably will close out the Jets today after letting them creep back into the game in the 4th quarter.

The easiest people to blame would be Brady, Belichick, and the defense, but if you look at the end of the Super Bowl, the Patriots dropped about 6 passes in the final 4 minutes.
Is it all on our non-clutch receivers?  No.  It’s not all on the defense either.  If the offense scores in any of these 4th quarters, the defense looks good because of all the stops it got to keep the Pats in the lead. Unfortunately, it’s a wide spread issue…

The Patriots, as a team, shit the bed at the most critical times.

The offense continually fails to score in the 4th quarter and the defense consistently gives up the game winning drive (you could throw in the AFC Championship game vs Baltimore to if you wanted to really lay it on, although I think Sterling Moore made a great play personally).

Anyway, here was my pre-Seahawkalypse, positive spin on the state of the Patriots (I didn’t finish it because I’m emotionally broken and angry at this team, but you’ll get the gist):
I recently joined an entrepreneurship program that embraces the “fail fast, fail early” approach to developing a profitable business.  The goal really isn’t to fail, but to find out what works and what doesn’t as soon as possible.

One of the rationales behind this tactic is that plans really are just guesses about what will happen, so invest as little time, energy, and money as possible into the development of these guesses.

Every time you take a guess out into the world and see how it performs, you learn valuable things that make your next guess even better.  The goal is to repeat this process over and over as quickly as possible until you no longer have a guess — you have a product.

So, you mentioned the Patriots?

I still think Bill Belichick is a genius.  He’s a genius at football.  He makes lots of mistakes as most geniuses do — myself included (oh, you didn’t know?).  The genius is in the process of learning from those mistakes and making adjustments.

Have you noticed the Patriots have a tendency to come out and get smacked around by seemingly inferior teams?  Take Buffalo’s 21-7 lead a few weeks ago.  I think the Bills game was a microcosm of the season for the Patriots.

They’re going to come out and make some wild guesses early on in the season and early on in games. Sometimes it will look great, like in Baltimore when the Pats went up 13-0.  Sometimes it will be hard to look at all, like in Buffalo.

One thing that is of concern, is the Patriots tendency to either shit the bed early and come back or to shit the bed late after they’ve taken a big lead.  Perhaps it’s all part of the larger theory that you experiment when you can.  Maybe the NFL is a rope-a-dope league.

I’ve watched the Giants and the Patriots pull the rope-a-dope this year.  The Giants pulled it off against the Bucs and the Browns.

Not many people like this theory because you have to try to win every game, you have to play for 60 minutes, every game counts, you need home field, etc.  Those things all matter.  But here’s the shocking truth…wait for it…wait for it…wa [just f’ing with ya]


One of the great advantages of having a professional QB and coach in the AFC East is that every game doesn’t matter.  The Patriots know they can experiment in the regular season and still make the playoffs.  Yes, they would love home field advantage, but perhaps more important is honing your skills and game plans to the point that you’re firing on all cylinders heading into the postseason.

This may all be an excuse for some of the Pats shitty play in the early season, but I always tell myself they’re keeping something up their sleeve for the playoffs.  If you know that your future opponents are dissecting your game film, are you going to let them see everything?  Particularly, if you know you can win without showing all your cards?

That reminds me of a poker analogy.  I’m running all over the damn place, I know.  Most pros prefer to win a hand without ever showing their cards.  Keep your opponent in the dark as much as possible.

The point of all these analogies is to offer a theory as to why:

Brady continues to force back shoulder throws to Brandon Lloyd

Julian Edelman gets more snaps then Wes Welker

Danny Woodhead gets the bulk of the carries vs the Ravens

And to explain every other inexplicable decision that Belichick makes.

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Photo by Andrew Choy via Flickr