It took me a while to come up with how to start this article, and I ultimately never came up with a good beginning. So, I figured being brutally honest is better than nothing at all, right? Here we go. Are you ready?
I’m not worried. Not in the slightest bit.
If you look at it this way, it doesn’t seem so bad, so hear me out. New England has always played poorly in Miami, so that’s nothing new. For New England’s defense to give up 34 points, and 6 of them coming on the worst play of the NFL season is not a good look by any means, don’t get me wrong, but there were a lot of positives to take away from this game.
Tom Brady was spectacular, going 27/43 for 358 yards and three touchdowns, his highest number since week six in Chicago. The offense was not the problem; it was the defense and the kicker. Stephen Gostkowski missed an extra point and a field goal on Sunday that would have added an extra four points to the Patriots total of 33, and the touchdown at the end of the game wouldn’t have even made a difference.
Josh Gordon was involved heavily again this week, hauling in 5 receptions on 8 targets for 96 yards. Rob Gronkowski made a triumphant re-emergence in the offense too, reeling in all 8 passes Brady threw his way for 107 yards and a touchdown.
However, even though the offense was terrific, the defense was abysmal which is frustrating after seeing them shut down two of the top receivers in the league just a week prior. Miami was battling the Patriots stride for stride throughout the afternoon, being torched by Kenny Stills for 135 yards and a touchdown. Ryan Tannehill was also very efficient, only throwing the ball 19 times but finding a receiver on 14 of those passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns.
But like I mentioned at the start, I’m not worried. Sure, Kansas City won again and improved to 11-2 and now is firmly in control of home field advantage throughout the playoffs. That’s all fine and good, but Oakland and now Baltimore has given them all they can handle and then some. This team IS beatable. The Chiefs may possess more star power than the Patriots, but New England has the experience. That’s the difference.
Home field is virtually out of the question at this point, but a bye is certainly not. Going into Pittsburgh will be a test, specifically for the defense, and then Buffalo and the Jets at home should each be wins. New England is 6-0 at Gillette Stadium this season, and nothing should stop them from trumping their two division rivals to cap off an undefeated home slate.
Another huge help to the Patriots is the fact that Houston dropped to 9-4 as well, which means New England stays in the #2 seed by virtue of owning the tiebreaker, having defeated Houston in week one.
As of right now, I’m not worried about the Patriots at all. It was a division game in Miami, where the Patriots are known to have their struggles. It was a fluke play to end the game, that’s it.
You move on, practice hard this week, go to Pittsburgh and get a W. Boom, back to normal. You’re not going to track down Kansas City, so forget that idea. Going forward from now until January, the focus needs to be just beat whoever is on the field in front of you, whether it be Pittsburgh, Buffalo or New York, the goal remains the same. The Patriots can’t worry about what other teams do now. If they want a bye, it comes down to just playing good football. The last play of this week’s game needs to be looked at once on film and then thrown in the trash. Learn from the mistakes and move on.
We’re onto Pittsburgh.
-Brendan Howe is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @Brendan__Howe