EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 21, 2013

Pats only focus should be on getting better

Bill Burt
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Get better.

That’s the only thing that matters when it comes to your favorite professional football team, the New England Patriots, which dropped to 5-2 after another debilitating loss in the Meadowlands to the N.Y. Jets (all losses to the Jets in New Jersey are debilitating), 30-27.

But the result and impending “L” doesn’t really matter.

And while the Patriots blew an opportunity to blow away the field in the AFC East division (Miami is now 3-4 after a 3-0 start and the Jets could have been 3-4 if the Pats won yesterday), they really only put off the inevitable.

Does anyone really believe the Jets are going to finally beat the Patriots for a division title? Didn’t think so.

So let the Jets and Rex Ryan have their day. They deserve major kudos for turning a loss into a win, but messing with Tom Brady’s head, sending some blitzing linebackers and sometimes dropping nine defenders in coverage.

We’ve seen this side of Brady a little too much in 2013, but it shouldn’t be a surprise. The exchanging of Danny Amendola for Wes Welker hasn’t come close to working and the young wide receivers don’t understand this complex offense.

But that’s OK, because for many years now Brady has been clicking on all cylinders from September through December, only to blow gasket in January.

We have learned that 11-5 isn’t necessarily a bad thing any more. Playing on Wild Card weekend, while not preferred because of bruised bodies, is as easy a course to the Super Bowl as it is with the bye.

The Patriots have lost way too many guys that matter, with a recently-nicked up Aqib Talib topping the list. He is special. The other guys, including Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork will be replaced by schemes and backups. The big problems will arise if their replacements are hurt for an extended time.

The Patriots easily could be 7-0 right now. But they also easily could be 4-3 or even 3-4 without a little good fortune against the Bills and Jets in Weeks 1 and 2.

None of that matters. What matters is where is immediate future of this team. Can they run the ball better against a good defense (20 rushes, 90 yards)?

The Jets didn’t run all over the place yesterday, but they did control/pound the line of scrimmage with the game on the line. Chris Ivory rushed for 104 yards over 34 carries, a paltry 3.0 yards per carry, but he had 18 of those rushes and 46 of those yards in the fourth quarter and overtime.

While Brady is going to get the brunt of the blame for the loss and his inefficient stats — completed only 22 of 46 passes — the 1-for-12 on third-down conversions is embarrassing and trend that hasn’t gotten better.

The moral of the story, though, is that the Patriots are going to have many more games like this one, decided in the last two minutes of the game. With Rob Gronkowski (if he made that catch in the final minute of regulation the Patriots would have won), the offense will be more of a force, like it was for good chunks of yesterday’s game.

The key is playing a game like yesterday in January, and there will be games like this in January, and win them. If the Red Sox have shown us anything, we’ll take gritty over pretty every time.

You can email Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.

Referee's explanation on key penalty Pool report with referee Jerome Boger on the penalty called on Patriots defensive tackle Chris Jones: Q: Please explain the penalty that was called on No. 94 [Patriots defensive tackle Chris Jones] on the field goal. A: The call was that No. 94 on the defense pushed his teammate into the formation. That is a rule change for 2013 that a teammate cannot push a teammate into the opponents' formation. Q: Is it any type of push? Is it a two-handed push? A: Any push. It could be with the body, not necessarily with the hand, but with the body into his teammate, into the formation. It's any type of pushing action. Q: Is there anything else to go over with this penalty? A: No, the umpire's flag went up almost instantaneously as he observed the action. We just enforced it as he called it. Q: And that's a 15-yard penalty … A: For unsportsmanlike conduct.