Patriots Fall to Seattle: A Look Ahead After the Patriots’ Humbling Loss

The New England Patriots’ start to the 2016 NFL season seemed almost too good to be true, winning three out of the four games during Tom Brady’s suspension. Rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had 42 completions and four touchdowns during his time in the spotlight, while third-stringer Jacoby Brissett was able to lead New England to a victory against the Texans. Fast-forward to week ten, and the Patriots face the most uncertainty they have encountered since a start without Brady.            

New England lost a critical home game to the 6-2-1 Seahawks Sunday night at Gillette Stadium on a questionable fourth down play to potentially bring the game to overtime. After failing to run the ball in from under the  yard line, and a Brady QB sneak that resulted in a recovered fumble, New England attempted a jump ball to Gronkowski on the outside, with the hope of drawing a pass interference.  

As if New England fans weren’t frustrated enough, news broke Monday morning that pro-bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski had punctured a lung. The injury presumably came on a pass down the middle in which Gronkowski suffered a crunching blow by Seattle safety Earl Thomas, benching Gronkowski for five plays. While injury does not appear to be serious, experts have estimated that Gronkowski will miss week ten against the San Francisco 49ers, and possibly week 11 against the Jets. 

The Patriots’ four game winning streak has ended, yet this loss against the Seahawks could be a blessing in disguise. With a relatively easy road schedule against the 1-8 49ers and 3-7 Jets, this loss is humbling. While Bill Belichick has never been one to let his player get complacent, this loss was a wake-up call for the Patriots,

especially the offense.

Another thing to consider is that the Patriots offense, while making a few costly questionable play calls against Seattle, is as good as ever. Lagarette Blount has been a force on the ground, scoring three TD’s against Seattle and boasting an impressive 678 rushing yards on the season. We also learned that Tom Brady is human after he threw his first interception of the season Sunday. Brady currently holds a QBR of 89.2 with 1,635 passing yards in five games this season. Gronkowski missing a few games will certainly hurt, but Martellus Bennet has been a lethal second option for Tom Brady. Brady has targeted Bennet successfully 38 times, and Bennett has an astounding 504 yards, with an impressive four touchdowns.

On the other side of the ball, Dan Patricia’s defense has been spotty, but has certainly carried the team, with a crucial goal line stop against Seattle. Since the Patriots’ trade of Chandler Jones to the Cleveland Browns, linebacker Dont’a Hightower and defensive end Rob Ninkovich have been a force.

While the Patriots are a favorite to clinch the AFC East, they must capitalize on four critical games ahead to roll into the playoffs in a strong position. Aside from the Jets and the 49ers, the Patriots face the Los Angeles Rams and Joe Flacco’s Ravens in Foxboro. A potential four game streak with two wins at home would set up the Patriots perfectly for a victory in Denver. Thinking back to New England’s brutal loss at Coors field to the Broncos and Brock Osweiler, this rematch will be New England’s biggest and most

decisive test of the season.