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McGinley: Pats receive rude awakening — especially Brady

| Tuesday, December 3, 2019

On paper the Patriots look so good. Up until Sunday, they were 10-1 with arguably the best defense in the league and good enough offense to hold their own. Before Sunday, being a Pats fan took little to no effort.

And then they went down to Houston.

Now I know what you’re thinking — “Wasn’t the loss to the Ravens the wake-up call for the Patriots?” It could have been, but the Ravens have been on fire. Lamar Jackson is having an unbelievable sophomore season, averaging a completion percentage of 66.5% as well as having 2,532 passing yards and 977 rushing yards on the season. Having been thoroughly excited, Baltimore fans have eaten this up, supporting their Ravens through an eight-game winning streak, blowing straight through the Patriots in the middle of it with Jackson at the helm. Tom Brady and crew just could not go down to Baltimore and expect a win there.

Houston, however, should have been different. At 7-4 on the season, the Texans should have been an easy win for the Patriots even down in the Lone Star State, despite Brady’s need to play for the Foxboro fans. This was just not the case. The Patriots didn’t show up, specifically, Brady. It almost looked as though Deshaun Watson, quarterback for the Texans, had claimed the nickname “The G.O.A.T.” for the last 10 years and not Brady. While Brady ultimately threw for about 100 more yards than Watson, throwing for 326, he wasn’t efficient with those yards, completing barely more than half of his passes, hitting a 24 out of 47 mark.

Watson, although ultimately throwing for 234, completed 18 out of 25, had three touchdowns just like Brady, and still left time so that he could receive a touchdown as well.

It’s not so much what the Patriots did do though that cost them. On paper they still look great. In execution however, they weren’t present. The Brady way has always been short, accurate pitches all the way down field with the occasional long one mixed in or a clean run from the ever patient Sony Michel. This only works, though, if the Patriots can dominate like this on offense and — almost more importantly — on defense.

This week, Brady learned it won’t always be enough to chug along and carry a sort of streamlined success all the way through a game while relying on the defense to make quick, frequent stops. He may have to revert to drives that go farther, faster. Instead of throwing 47, throw those 25 Watson got off to a farther field. Don’t always get the ball off within two seconds and learn to rely on your O-line just a bit.

Riding a 10-2 record is great and all, don’t get me wrong. It’s just not as great when you know it could be 11-1 or 12-0 with just a little more efficiency and a break from the normal pattern. … I’m quickly learning even GOATs make mistakes.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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