Sunday, January 10, 2010

Patriots 14, Ravens 33 (1/10/2010)

So what would happen if they held a playoff game and only one team showed up? 33-14 Ravens is what. The Patriots were knocked out of the post-season with their worst playoff loss since 46-10 (points off if you don't know what game that was). The loss ended their season and their continuing offensive futility portends of big changes for the 2010 campaign.

No need to bore anyone with tedious details; the entire team did not show up, the Ravens did, and it was that simple. Brady had the worst playoff game of his career, by far, tossing 3 interceptions (one a fluke, one bad, and one terrible), losing a fumble on a strip sack, and (according to reports) missing wide open receivers. He got some pressure, but mostly it was on him -- bad decisions that snowballed into a 24-7 halftime deficit. And the 2009 Patriots, as you know, were not a second-half comeback team.

It might be tough to swallow, but the defense actually played pretty well. There were two missed tackles on the first play, an 83-yard touchdown run. But aside from that play, they held the Ravens to less than 3 yards a carry, and Baltimore QB Joe Flacco went a mere 4-10 for 34 yards and 1 INT. The final score was bad, but aside from the long run, the Ravens scored on "drives" of 17, 25, 18, and 52 yards -- short fields provided by Brady and terrible special teams coverage. BTW, the Ravens average starting position was the 50 yard line. Not going to win very often when that's the case.

On special teams, it was bad punts, big returns against bad coverage, and a missed field goal. The only bright spots were a muffed-punt turnover that gave them their first touchdown and a big return by Darius Butler that led to their second. But there were way too many downers to call this anything but a bad special teams performance.

And the coaching... ah, the coaching. It's almost midnight and I think the Patriots just called the inside draw to Kevin Faulk AGAIN! My friend Al asked how many times they would run that before they realized it wasn't working. 9? 10? 11? maybe it was 42. For the game, Faulk had 14 carries and got 2 first downs on that play. And you'd think they would bail on the wide receiver screen after the first three lost yardage; but nope, called it one more time just to be sure. The Pats looked like a team with no offensive coordinator (which is technically true), though somebody was calling those hideous plays.

Furthermore, why go for it on 4th-and-17 and then kick an iffy (and unhelpful) 44 yard field goal on 4th-and-11 on the same drive -- a kick that went wide-right. And the Ravens passed on 10 plays and ran on 52, so it was probably safe to try some run blitzes or go to a 4-3 to stop the ground game. Anything to put the ball in Joe Flacco's hands, where the Ravens clearly did not want it.

So where does that leave us? In the midst of a long, cold winter. Better be a productive one, because a lot of Patriots Nation is sharpening up their pitchforks!

Statistical Oddity of the Week: Tom Brady dropped back to pass 45 times, Joe Flacco just 10. I would venture to guess it's been a long time since a team passed the ball 4.5-times as often as their playoff opponent.

Weekly Water-cooler Wisdom: "Somehow I don't think Wes Welker would have made much difference in this one. Unless he could play quarterback."

Store your faith in a freezer bag and don't forget to thaw it around July 15,

- Scott

PS. 10-7!
0-1 :(


  1. It's games like this that make you want the NFL to institute a refund policy. If your team chooses to not play you should get your money back.

  2. Scott, I agree with you whole heartedly. The start of the new decade has shown me that these are not the Patriots of the 00's and perhaps it's time for us to rebuild and take a long hard look at whether or not the old "formula" is still working.

    Maybe we're getting "old" everywhere in our organization?

  3. It was a disappointing end; but important to remember that the expectations got out of hand at mid-year. Before the season started, most everyone was more realistic about their chances; and it turns out everyone was correct.

    A re-tooling is in order; but I think this one needs to start with the coordinators and work its way down.