LACK OF OF­FENSE LEAVES BRADY, PA­TRI­OTS FANS CON­CERNED

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - By JIMMY GOLEN AP Sports Writer

FOXBOROUGH, MASS. (AP) >> Only in New Eng­land is a 9-1 record a rea­son to panic.

The de­fend­ing Su­per Bowl cham­pi­ons have the best record in the con­fer­ence — tied for the best in the NFL — with a two-game lead over Buffalo in the AFC East as they try to earn their 11th straight di­vi­sion ti­tle. The Pa­tri­ots beat the Philadel­phia Ea­gles 17-10 on Sun­day in a re­match of their 2018 Su­per Bowl loss.

But the of­fense couldn’t move the ball. Tom Brady had one of his worst games of the sea­son. The only touch­down came on a trick play. They still haven’t beaten any­one good.

And it’s not just fans who are up­set.

Brady spat out a se­ries of mono­syl­labic an­swers af­ter the vic­tory, cred­it­ing the de­fense with keep­ing the team in the game. When asked if he was dis­cour­aged, he said: “Well, we just played for three hours. So I think ev­ery­one is a lit­tle tired.”

Asked if he thinks the of­fense will sort out its prob­lems, Brady said: “I don’t think it mat­ters what I think, it mat­ters what we do.”

Any other team would love to have the Pa­tri­ots’ prob­lems. But New Eng­lan­ders are con­cerned that the team might not make it back to the Su­per Bowl for a fourth straight year.

The prob­lem, for now, clearly is the of­fense.

Brady threw for 216 yards on 47 at­tempts, and he threw 14 in­com­ple­tions in the first

half — a ca­reer high. It was Julian Edel­man com­plet­ing a dou­ble-pass to Phillip Dorsett for a 15-yard touch­down that was the game’s win­ning score.

The lack of of­fen­sive power is why team owner Robert Kraft is all-but beg­ging tight end Rob Gronkowski to come out of re­tire­ment. And why the team was will­ing to take a chance on trou­ble­mak­ing re­ceiver An­to­nio Brown, who lasted just one game be­fore he was re­leased. But they keep win­ning. Coach Bill Belichick seemed less con­cerned about style points.

“That was kind of the way that game went,” he said on a con­fer­ence call with re­porters on Mon­day. “It was kind of an old-fash­ioned, field-po­si­tion game – not a lot of points, not a lot of scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. We had a few more than they did.”

WHAT’S WORK­ING

The de­fense con­tin­ues to rank among the NFL’s all­time best.

The Pa­tri­ots have al­lowed 108 points through 10 games, which would put them on pace for 173 in a full sea­son. The NFL record for a 16-game sea­son was the 2000 Bal­ti­more Ravens, who al­lowed 165 points. The New Eng­land de­fense has only al­lowed nine touch­downs; the fewest in a 16-game sea­son were the 16 al­lowed by the 1986 Bears and the 2000 Ravens.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

The of­fen­sive line strug­gled to pro­tect Brady, who had was held with­out a run­ning or pass­ing touch­down for just the sec­ond time this sea­son. He was sacked once and hit six times.

New Eng­land wasn’t able to run the ball, ei­ther, gain­ing 74 yards on 22 car­ries, an av­er­age of 3.4 yards per at­tempt.

STOCK UP

Jake Bai­ley punted eight times for an av­er­age of 47.6 yards, with six of the kicks pin­ning Philadel­phia in­side its 20.

“Jake’s had a great year for us and he con­tin­ues to come in with some re­ally big plays there,” Belichick said.

Also, the kick­ing game seems to have sta­bi­lized af­ter los­ing long­time place­kicker Stephen Gostkowski to a hip in­jury in Week 4. Af­ter Mike Nugent con­verted 5 of 8 field goal at­tempts in four games, Nick Folk has made ev­ery kick in the last two games: all five field goals and both ex­tra points.

He con­nected on 35-, 22, and 39-yard field goals against Philadel­phia.

STOCK DOWN

The of­fense was 5 for 16 on third downs and scored just one touch­down on three trips in­side the 20. The Pa­tri­ots started near mid­field three times and only man­aged one field goal on those drives, punt­ing on back-to-back pos­ses­sions af­ter start­ing at their 48 in the third quar­ter.

IN­JURIES

Re­ceiver Phillip Dorsett left the game with a head in­jury and did not re­turn, a loss to the al­ready thin re­ceiv­ing corps. Rookie N’Keal Harry made his de­but and had three catches for 18 yards.

Left tackle Isa­iah Wynn is el­i­gi­ble to come off in­jured re­serve.

KEY NUM­BER

19: The Pa­tri­ots have clinched their 19th win­ning sea­son in a row, sec­ond in NFL his­tory only to Dal­las (1966-85). Only the Pittsburgh Steel­ers (36) have had more sea­sons above .500 since the 1970 AFLNFL merger than New Eng­land (34).

NEXT STEPS

The Pa­tri­ots host Dal­las (6-4) on Sun­day.

MATT ROURKE - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots’ Tom Brady (12) is tack­led by Philadel­phia Ea­gles’ Derek Bar­nett (96) and Nate Gerry (47) dur­ing the first half of an NFL foot­ball game, Sun­day, Nov. 17, 2019, in Philadel­phia.

MATT ROURKE - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots’ Tom Brady (12) is tack­led by Philadel­phia Ea­gles’ Derek Bar­nett (96) and Nate Gerry (47) dur­ing the first half of an NFL foot­ball game, Sun­day, Nov. 17, 2019, in Philadel­phia.

MATT ROURKE - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back Tom Brady in ac­tion dur­ing an NFL foot­ball game against the Philadel­phia Ea­gles, Sun­day, Nov. 17, 2019, in Philadel­phia.

MATT ROURKE - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots run­ning back James White in ac­tion dur­ing an NFL foot­ball game against the Philadel­phia Ea­gles, Sun­day, Nov. 17, 2019, in Philadel­phia.

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