If you count today's game, that total is now 1-6.
Somehow we've gotten used to the Patriots falling on their faces against Denver. I don't think I'll ever completely scrub the memory of the 2006 playoff game against the Broncos from my brain, especially not the part where hundreds of people at the Sports Depot in Allston screamed like we were all on a sinking ship as Champ Bailey ran that INT back for a touchdown...
Sorry, where was I? Right--today's similarly sucky game, although, in fairness, the Patriots were more competitive today, driving the game into overtime, where they lost by a field goal.
Like the Jets game in Week 2, this game was marked by pressure from the opposing defense; the Broncos didn't seem to be rushing the house on every play the way the Jets did, but the offensive line let them get to Brady plenty. In fact, he was sacked in this game; surprisingly, he wasn't against the Jets.
However, the Patriots were able to earn yards in both the passing and rushing game.
As seems to be Patriots-Broncos tradition at Mile High, there was at least one egregious refereeing call on New England that arguably set the Broncos up for success--in this instance an utterly ridiculous "taunting" call on Brandon Meriweather when the referee pulled his flag out before the play was even over. "Taunting" was only settled on after a conference between a few refs. Sure, that seems legit.
However, you never lose a game solely because of officiating. You just don't.
And of course the other guys are playing, too, and our defense broke one time too many, though that didn't seem to affect their self-esteem any. It never ceases to amaze me that a coach with a reputation for discipline like Belichick allows such excessive celebration by our defensive backs as they seem to get away with week after week. In particular, Tully Banta-Cain really bugged me today, dancing and cheering for himself after sacking Kyle Orton, neglecting to remember that just a few minutes earlier he and his fellow Patriots defenders had surrendered the tying points.
However, the bottom line is that both defenses gave up equal points in the first 60 minutes.
Offensively, Laurence Maroney continues to frustrate -- today he saw playing time again early on, got blown up at least once for the second week in a row on a blocking scheme, and put up a grand total of 21 yards (to Sammy Morris's 68.
However, the Patriots and Broncos finished the game fairly close in net rushing yards -- New England had 97 vs. Denver's 93.
No, the most glaring differential, much as it pains me to say it, was the passing game. Brady went 19/33 for 215 yards, his lowest total of the season so far by a yard. He went 216 yards in the loss against the Jets, where he also had a lower completion percentage--48 percent to this week's 57 percent.
But today, on the other side of the ball, Kyle Orton racked up 330 yards with a 72 percent completion percentage.
This week, you couldn't just blame it on defensive pressure or Joey Galloway (inactive today)--this week, there were times Brady flat-out missed open receivers. In particular I'm thinking of a blatant overthrow of a wide-open Moss in the end zone late in the first quarter, and another deep incompletion he was lucky not to have intercepted in the third quarter, and the fourth quarter pass Wes Welker and Champ Bailey spent a few heart-stopping seconds batting around before neither of them recovered the ball.
And then there was the fumble with less than two minutes to go in regulation, which came as Brady was sacked.
It pains me to say it, but it's true: this week our Golden Boy gets the Golden Sombrero. If any one player's performance should be looked to as the reason for losing this game, it's Brady's. Yes, you can argue Gostkoswki, who missed what turned out to be a crucial field goal, but really, it was Brady who was most inconsistent today, and Brady who left the scoring to Gostkowski in that crucial spot rather than converting for a touchdown.
You have to wonder just what the problem is. He has now lost to Denver at home, away, against different opposing coaches, playing under different offensive coordinators, with high amounts of personnel turnover on both teams since he first began his career. It seems like a silly question, but could it be the altitude? Is it psychological--is that night of Champ Bailey horror still stuck in his head, too?
Just what is Brady's issue with the Broncos?
Or is it a Brady issue, particular to this season, that goes deeper than that? He looked to be showing some of his old magic in Week 1 against Buffalo, but in the other games this season he and the rest of the offense have frequently been frustrating to watch.
When is it time to worry?