The Patriots put forth a valiant effort in their loss Sunday to the Ravens before folding in the fourth quarter with three straight turnovers.
As FOX analyst Daryl Johnston accurately explained, the Patriots are a team in progress. Tom Brady is long gone, and so are the days of New England playing flawless football late in games. With Mac Jones under center, the Patriots are prone to making mistakes.
“They’re just not at that point right now where they can have so many mistakes here,” said Johnston. “Through three quarters, they were very, very competitive, very, very good, well-coached, detail-oriented. Coach Belichick has gotta be very disappointed with how his team performed here in the fourth quarter. It was very un-Patriot-like, the amount of turnovers -- with the effort, the position they were in coming into the fourth quarter.”
The Patriots scored at the start of the fourth, finishing out an excellent nine-play, 75-yard drive. The series was filled with highlights, including a pretty deep ball to DeVonte Parker and Jones somehow converting on 4th-and-1 when the play completely broke down.
Even their missed two-point attempt was exciting: Jones caught a toss from Rhamondre Stevenson and scooted into the end zone — taking a big hit in the process.
Then the Patriots forced a turnover on the first play of Baltimore’s ensuing drive, setting themselves up on the Ravens’ 39-yard line and down by five. In a previous time, they would’ve almost certainly capitalized, making the Ravens pay for their sloppy football.
But on Sunday, they gave the ball right back when Jones overthrew Parker in the end zone. Tom Brady left three years ago, and so did their ability to consistently close out games. The Patriots were mistake-prone last season, and that’s carried over to this year.
Nelson Agholor has already cost the Patriots with two back-breaking, late-game fumbles, including one on Sunday.
Johnston may not see the Patriots very often, but he nailed their identity.
They’re a team in flux, and teams in flux cost themselves games.