Win number 186 for Tom Brady and number three for the Patriots will have to wait a week.
After what looked like a third-down stop late in the fourth with the game tied, an illegal hands to the face penalty to Stephon Gilmore gave the Panthers new life. Cam Newton and the Panthers made the Patriots pay. Newton drove the team into field goal range and Graham Gano’s 48-yard field goal sealed the 33-30 victory for the Panthers on the road. The Patriots are now 1-2 at Gillette Stadium.
The penalty was the second time that was called on Gilmore. The first of which also negated a third down stop for the defense. However, Gilmore’s penalties are just one item on a long list of defensive deficiencies for this team.
Bradford ruled out for third straight week
The Patriots (2-2) allowed 444 yards on defense to the Panthers (3-1), who came in struggling to move the ball. Newton had an easy time in the pocket, going 22-of-29 for 316 yards and three touchdowns. In addition to his stellar play through the air, he added 44 yards on eight carries and a touchdown. Often, receivers were left wide open and sometimes there were multiple wide open receivers. Poor communication was the main culprit for the Patriots defense, as well as poor tackling. As evident by a potentially third-down stop that cornerback Eric Rowe failed to make the tackle on.
The Patriots offense continues to be the lifeblood of this team. Despite facing one of the top defenses coming into the week, the offense was able to put up 30 points and 373 yards of total offense. Much of that yardage was on the arm of quarterback, Tom Brady.
Brady continues to defy age, despite having defenders in his face all game. Brady went 32-of-45 for 307 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions. Facing a 14-point deficit with under nine minutes to go, Brady went 11-of-14 for 107 yards and a touchdown in back-to-back touchdown drives to tie the game at 30. However, he would not get the ball for the third time in the quarter.
Brady completed passes to eight different receivers. The bulk of his completions went to James White, who hauled in 10 for 47 yards. Tight end, Rob Gronkowski caught four passes for 80 yards, including a big 43-yard yard catch in the second quarter. Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan caught the two touchdowns from Brady. Dion Lewis added a touchdown on the ground.
Stephen Gostkowski had his best game of the season, going 3-for-3 on both extra point attempts and field goal attempts. The highlight of his afternoon was drilling a career-high, 58-yard field goal at the end of the first half to pull the Patriots to within one.
It is still early, however, the problems on defense are certainly alarming. The miscommunication and tackling issues can be fixed and will certainly be the focus of the coaching staff moving forward. With that said, it is October. The trade deadline is fastly approaching and the Patriots have never shied away from making a move. At this rate, they will need to or their streak of consecutive AFC Championship Game appearances will be in jeopardy.
The Patriots have a quick turnaround as they will travel to Tampa, FL to take on Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football.
– Ian Glendon is the National Editor for cover32 and the Managing Editor for cover32/Patriots. He covers the NFL and New England Patriots. Like and follow on Follow @iglen31 Follow @cover32_NE and Facebook.