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Patriots Notebook: More to The Loss Than Bad Officiating

I’m not going to talk about the officiating. Jeff Solari beat everybody to the deadhorse and you know what Bill Parcells said about dead horses: “The horse is dead, quit kicking it.”

At half time I was resigned to the fact that this Patriots team, as constructed, were not going to be a factor in the AFC playoffs. Sure, there is still a good chance of them winning out and getting the #2 seed, but for the first time in 7 seasons, the Patriots would be an actual underdog as far as going to the Super Bowl.

The issues seemed to stem in the middle, James Ferentz, son of long time Belichick disciple and Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz was getting beat like a drum up the middle.

I’ve never seen the Patriots offense look so small. Everything seemed to be happening in an imaginary box between the hashes and 2 yards from the line of scrimmage. It felt futile. With it came an eerie calm, the offense wasn’t producing, but it wasn’t due to under performance, but because they’re just simply not that good.

But something happened in the second half and it emanated from a place familiar to Patriots fans, but seemingly not to many other teams in the NFL: special teams. Nate Ebner’s punt block turned the tide, especially when the Pats red zone offense ripped off two big runs, the second resulting in a Brandon Bolden touchdown.

Tony Romo quipped that the Patriots had found something on offense, to which I tweeted “The Patriots new game plan is to start every series with a blocked punt.” There have been 9 punts blocked in the NFL this season, the Patriots have blocked 4 of them.

Overlooked because of controversy was this: N’Keal Harry made a big boy play the only time he had the ball in his hands. That one play, fortified my belief, that there is some talent on the offensive side of the ball. It exists. Can the Patriots tap into it? Perhaps or perhaps not, but at least we know it exists.

Sunday night Josh McDaniels did his best Eddie Harris impersonation, as did the veteran right hander in Major League, he was throwing every piece of junk he could think at ‘em and in the end it wasn’t quite enough.

The defense is still very good, they held KC to just a field goal in the second half. We’re used to seeing the Patriots offense try to overcome a questionable defense and for the first time in a long time that is the other way around.

Patriots fans should remember this: the team is 10-3, second place in the AFC and still in decent position to get a first round bye. Ask a Cowboys fan how they’d react to getting a first round bye. The Patriots have had a first round bye in the post season EVERY SEASON for 9 years and this year would make 10 in a row.

The sky might feel a little lower than we’re used to, but it still ain’t falling.

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