Sat, 05 Dec 2020

Game Observations: Patriots have no answers for 49ers

New England Patriots
26 Oct 2020, 19:34 GMT+10

Mike Dussault

The New England Patriots were soundly beaten by the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon, as their NFC rivals grabbed an early 7-0 lead on their opening possession of the game and never looked back, en route to a 33-6 win. In all, the 49ers gained 467 yards compared to just 241 yards for the Patriots, as the Pats fell to 2-4 on the season in a game that was never really in question.

It was a disappointing effort from a Patriots team that was looking to get back on track after having a normal practice schedule for the first time in three weeks. It was not enough, as the Patriots offense struggled to find any consistency, turned the ball over multiple times again and failed to find the end zone, while the defense was continually gashed by the 49ers well-designed attack.

Now two games below .500, the Patriots will need to quickly regroup as they head to Buffalo this Sunday to take on the division-leading Bills who sit atop the AFC East with a 5-2 record. If the Patriots are to save their season and have any chance at making the playoffs it will all be on the line this weekend.

But first, here's everything that stood out from an ugly Patriots loss that started bad and only got worse.

- The Patriots won the opening toss and deferred, only to watch the 49ers march down the field using an array of short passes with run-after-catch opportunities. The biggest play went for 23 yards to Deebo Samuel, a little dump-off pass that got Samuel in space and let him make a big play. It was a nine-play, 75 yard scoring drive right out of the gate. The drive also included pick ups of 14 and 15 yards, as the Patriots defense had trouble making plays out of the gate and didn't show the same kind of stout red zone play they had against the Broncos.

- The offensive line welcomed back David Andrews to his starting center spot, leaving only Mike Onwenu at right tackle as the only fill-in, replacing Jermaine Eluemunor, who was placed on IR this past week.

- The Pats offense would pick up one first down on their first possession, a nice pass by Cam Newton to N'Keal Harry but the drive would stall after just five plays. Again, the offense leaned into their power running game behind fullback Jakob Johnson but it was unproductive with Damien Harris serving as the lead back.

- Practice squadder Nick Thurman, promoted for the second-straight week, made a nice stop-for-loss on the opening play of the 49ers second drive, plowing through the line to make the tackle on the running back for a two-yard loss. Lawrence Guy would get in on the action three plays later after the 49ers picked up a first down on a nice pass to George Kittle, sacking Garoppolo for a loss of seven yards. The 49ers wouldn't blink though, with Garoppolo coming right back with a 19-yard pass to Brandon Aiyuk. A holding penalty by Kittle cost the 49ers a third-down conversion and put them into a 3rd-and-12 situation. Garoppolo would throw an interception to Devin McCourty on that play, giving the ball back to the Patriots near midfield after a penalty on Chase Winovich.

- Newton couldn't get much going after the interception, with 15 yards from a Roughing the Passer penalty being the biggest gain of the short drive. Four-straight runs produced a total of 14 yards before N'Keal Harry couldn't handle a third down pass and it fell incomplete well short of the first-down marker as the first quarter came to a close. Nick Folk would make the 40-yard field goal to close the score to 7-3. Once again, most of the credit for the first score was thanks to the defense and a penalty, as the offense continued to search for success in the first half.

- Harry would leave the game with a head injury after the third-down play that was stopped short after taking a big hit. He would not return to the game as his absence would open up opportunities for Jakobi Meyers.

- The ground game would spark the 49ers next drive, with their first two runs going a total of 22 yards and getting things started. Garoppolo would also have a shovel pass to Aiyuk that went for 20 yards, but another holding call would stall the drive, forcing the 49ers to settle for a field goal that still extended their lead to 10-3. San Francisco's well-designed attack was very effective in the first half, getting their speedy players in space and allowing them to make plays with the ball in their hands.

- Newton would throw an interception on the first play of the Patriots next drive, the second-straight week he opened a drive by giving the ball away. It was the eighth giveaway in the last three games for the Patriots as bad ball security continues to haunt them this season. The 49ers would take over on the New England 38-yard line, and would reel off plays of eight, 17 and six yards to finally set up a four-yard touchdown run by Kyle Juszczyk. To make matters worse, Lawrence Guy was injured on the drive. There isn't a much more valuable player on defense than Guy and luckily he would return on the next drive.

- Justin Bethel managed to block the extra point, keeping it a 16-3 game in the second quarter, but not much went right for the Patriots in the first half, or the entire game for that matter. The only two defensive stops were aided by holding penalties against the 49ers and the offense struggled to find success of any kind.

- The Patriots sloppy play would continue on the next possession with fumbles by Gunner Olszewski on the kickoff and another by Jakob Johnson, but both were recovered by the Patriots. The offense went three-and-out on an uninspired drive that gave the ball right back to the surging 49ers, who continued to march right down the field. Even another holding penalty that set up a 1st-and-20 was quickly erased by back-to-back gains of 16 and 20 yards for San Fran. Jeffrey Wilson would finish off another drive with a 16-yard touchdown run, as the rout was on 23-3 at halftime. The 49ers 301 yards in the first half were the most ever allowed at home by the Patriots under Bill Belichick and they had 18 first downs compared to the Patriots running just 16 plays the entire half.

- The Patriots offense would show some signs of life to start the second half, with some nice runs by Damien Harris and a long pass to Jakobi Meyers for 21 yards that helped get New England their deepest offensive penetration of the game. But a sack taken by Newton backed them up and they'd have to settle for a 52-yard field goal by Nick Folk to make it 23-6. It was an eight-play, 50-yard drive that the Patriots desperately needed, unfortunately they couldn't finish it off with a touchdown.

- The Patriots defense however found no answers for the 49ers in the locker room at halftime, as San Fran picked up where they left off, sparked by a 23-yard catch-and-run by Aiyuk and then a 35-yard completion to Aikyuk downfield on a third-and-four that set up another touchdown by the 49ers. This one was a tough run from seven yards out by Wilson. It was a too-easy, six-play, 79-yard scoring drive that made it 30-6 and effectively ended the game.

- Newton would throw his third interception of the game on a tipped ball that went off of Julian Edelman's hands, after the offense had some success through the air on their next drive, which included gains of 16 to Byrd and 11 to Meyers. It's been that kind of season for Newton and Edelman, who failed to connect in the game in a troubling trend that has continues.

- After the defense held the 49ers to a field goal on another eight-play drive that killed five more minutes of clock, the Patriots inserted Jarrett Stidham at quarterback with the score 33-6. Stidham would throw another interception after a few nice runs by Damien Harris gave the Pats a little life, it was New England's fourth of the game. On 20 career passing attempts to that point, Stidham had thrown four interceptions.

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