Apparently a mere lack of practice time is not all that is currently ailing the New England Patriots. In an uncharacteristically sluggish performance, the Pats were dominated on both sides of the ball in a 33-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
For the second straight week, Patriots quarterback Cam Newton struggled. Newton completed 9 of 15 passes for 98 yards and three interceptions. With the game well out of hand, Newton would be replaced by Jarrett Stidham in the fourth quarter. Stidham fared no better than Newton, going 6 of 10 passing for 64 yards and an interception.
Still, Newton’s play was concerning, at best. For much of the day, the Patriots starting signal caller seemed out of sync, making poor reads and poorer throws. With little help from his supporting cast of receivers, tight ends, Newton and New England’s offense were outgained 467-241 in total yards.
Conversely, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was successful in spreading out the Patriots’ defense, utilizing passes behind the line of scrimmage and jet sweeps to get the ball in the hands of running back Jeff Wilson Jr., wideout Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle. In his first game against his former team, Garoppolo finished 20 of 25 for 277 yards with two interceptions. Rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk had six catches for 115 yards and Samuel had five catches for 65 yards, before leaving the game with a hamstring injury.
ON THE FIELD
San Francisco wasted little time in lighting the Gillette Stadium scoreboard. It took just over five minutes and nine plays to march 75 yards. The Niners quickly took a 7-0 lead on a three-yard run by Wilson. As noted by the Associated Press, it was the first time the Patriots have allowed a touchdown on an opponents’ opening drive at home since Week 4 of 2016 against the Buffalo Bills.
Following an unproductive Patriots offensive drive, San Francisco was pinned inside its 15. Garoppolo made some key completions before sailing high on a pass intended for Kittle. The pass was intercepted by Devin McCourty, returning the ball to New England. However, San Francisco’s defense limited the damage, merely allowing a 40-yard field goal by Nick Folk.
Following a 41-yard field goal by Niners kicker Robbie Gould, the Patriots now found themselves trailing 10-3. In another failed attempt at gaining ground on the San Francisco defense, Newton’s attempted dump pass to receiver Jakobi Meyers was picked off by linebacker Fred Warner. Five plays later, the 49ers capitalized on a 4-yard touchdown run by fullback Kyle Juszczyk.
San Francisco dominated the first half, taking a 23-3 lead on a 16-yard run by Wilson. In total, the Niners held the ball for 22:30, and compiled a 301-59 advantage in total yards. In perhaps the most startling first-half statistic for New England, the Patriots converted just four first downs to the 49ers’ 18.
Unfortunately for the Patriots, the second half would be more formality, than opportunity. Following Folk’s second field goal of the day for New England, Wilson capped a six-play, 79-yard drive by finding the end zone following his third touchdown. With the Niners already decimated by injury, Wilson’s leg twisted as he was tackled. He stayed down on the field before being able to walk off under his own power. The former undrafted free agent would finish the day having rushed for 112 yards.
For the Patriots, it would mark their third-straight loss, and drop them to 2-4 on the 2020 NFL season.
The Patriots’ 27-point loss was their largest at home under Bill Belichick, according to Elias Sports Bureau (per The Associated Press.)
New England had gone 286 games without a three-game losing streak, the longest span between three-game slides in NFL history.
The Pats’ have fallen to 2-4 for the first since coach Belichick’s first season in 2000, when the Patriots went 5-11.
WR N’Keal Harry left with a head injury in the first half and did not return.
LG Joe Thuney departed with an ankle injury. Reports following Sunday’s game indicated that the ankle sprain was minor in nature.
RT Justin Herron left with an ankle injury late in the second half.
The Patriots visit the AFC East division-leading Buffalo Bills on Sunday, November 1 at 1:00pm.
-Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and Columnist for Full Press Coverage. He covers the New England Patriots and provides NFL editorial content. He is also the host of the Locked On Patriots podcast. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC