If the New England Patriots were playing for the right to go to this year’s Superbowl, you could not tell it. The Patriots are an veteran team, who have been in the playoffs a lot, but this has to be one of the worst playoff showing by the Patriots I have seen. In the second half the Patriots were dominated by the Ravens. New England had poor effort in the second half and actually looked like a team who didn’t want to be there. The effort by the Patriots had to be the most sickening thing I have seen from professional football players. They should give an apology to the paying fans who showed up and deserved a better effort from their Patriots squad.
The first half you had the feeling the Raven’s defense was not handling the fast pace, no huddle offense, but the Patriots struggled in the red zone. They got in on an TD from Brady to Welker, but that would be the only score of a TD by the Patriots. The Patriots had a chance for six when Tom Brady badly mismanaged the end of the half for New England. He had an timeout but after a run by Brady, he elected not to call his timeout to save time for a few pass attempts. He tried to get the team set but ended up calling an timeout with only 4 seconds left, which forced New England to kick a field. 13-7 at the half.
The Patriots on defense looked very good at the start, they had a great game plan, Talib was the star of that game plan but Talib pulled up on an run, injured with an apparent hamstring. I knew New England’s defense was in trouble then and in the second half, the Ravens game plan was a smart one. Abandoned the run for the most part and just throw it on the Patriots pass defense. Ravens scored 21 unanswered points in the second half, passing with ease. The Patriots pass defense looked horrible, the linebackers had their worse game of the season. The WRs began making plays all over the secondary, the tight end, the RBs, it really didn’t matter who Flacco threw too because they was all open. The linebackers can not cover a brick wall, the Patriots need to think about bringing in smaller linebackers who can cover. Hightower, and Mayo needs to be out on passing plays unless they are pass rushing, and Spikes needs to be out on all passing plays no matter what. The defensive line was awful, no pass rush, Jones has not developed into an consistent pass rusher, Wilfork is the only good thing about the line along with Ninkovich. Steven Gregory had an horrible game, and should be let go. He is taking up space and room on the Patriots team for a safety who can not cover anything along with Patrick Chung. Arrington should finally be let go of, he’s not even worth an back up spot on the team, however, his effort was better then the rest of the defense. I think today’s game showed how important Talib is to the team, he was the best corner on the team, not McCourty, but Talib. McCourty is a good safety though, he is the second best secondary player, he just needs another safety with him. Dennard is good, and hopefully will continue to get better, but Talib has to stay healthy if he wants a contract with New England. New England should give him a whole new deal, but they need a quality back up to him. In the second half the Patriots began to stop blitzing and just sat back, letting Baltimore do whatever they wanted too, the effort was flat out embarrassing by a veteran type team. Flat out embarrassing.
The offense was not any better, they were actually just as bad and hard to watch. Welker is not an number one WR, he is a slot WR, and should be paid as such. Two years in a row, Welker has dropped meaningful wide open passes. This year it was on an third down, in the third, and he was wide open, easy catch, and Welker flat out dropped it. It was an monumental changing drop pass by Welker. He leads the league in drop passes. In the past two big play off games, this one and last year’s Super Bowl, Welker dropped passes that was killer. The Patriots can not win a Super Bowl with Welker, and the two tight ends, and nothing else. They need a deep threat, badly. The Ravens took the short passes away from New England and since they have zero deep threat, it killed the Patriots offense. They must find a play making, take the top off an defense type of wide out. I like Lloyd, I don’t think its his fault the Patriots did not run him deep much or confine him to route running mostly, like a slot WR. I would keep Lloyd but New England needs a big WR, or kiss Super Bowl chances away.
The effort by the offense was just as bad as the defense. It was flat out embarrassing, the fans badly wanted to win and go to another Superbowl, but New England played like a team that simply did not care about it. Win or lose, they didn’t care, they are cashing their paychecks and heading on vacation now. They played like a bunch of over paid babies, they didn’t want this win so they did not deserve it. The Patriots are so close to being able to win a Superbowl, but they need to fix things on both sides of the ball.