Cam Newton and the Patriots weren’t all that far from victory Sunday afternoon in Houston.
And New England really isn’t all that far off from being a playoff contender in the AFC in 2020.
But, alas, the Patriots fell 27-20 to Deshaun Watson and the Texans, with Newton’s Hail Mary 50-yard completion to Ryan Izzo coming up short of the end zone, New England helpless at the Houston 12 as time expired. That came after a penultimate Patriots possession in which the visitors turned it over on downs on the Houston 24 with 1:11 to play.
The loss, yet another oh-so-close failure this fall, snapped the Patriots two-game winning streak, killed the momentum from the prior Sunday night’s upset of the Ravens and all but finished off New England’s realistic playoff hopes with a 4-6 record with six games to play.
Newton was upended at the Seahawks 2 as time expired in the 35-30 Week 2 loss in Seattle.
The Patriots offense turned the ball over on downs at the Denver 24 with 59 seconds to play in the 18-12 Week 6 loss to the Broncos.
Newton fumbled with New England in range for a game-tying field goal or game-winning score in the 24-21 Week 8 loss in Buffalo.
Four end-of-game, gotta-have it plays. Four failures. Four losses.
Split those four games and the playoffs are still very much within sight, at 6-4. Win all four as a team with a QB closer like, say, Tom Brady might do, and you’re sitting pretty at 8-2 as you hit the holiday season that suddenly feels more like Groundhog Day than Thanksgiving.