New England Patriots Links 9/17/12 - Home Opener a Whole Lot of Lousy

The Cardinals almost wanted to lose as badly as the Patriots.

Ron Borges argues nobody really won yesterday, the Patriots simply lost more effectively than the Cardinals.

On a day that was perfect for football, the Arizona Cardinals played imperfectly but the Patriots played worse. One could argue nobody really won yesterday, the Patriots simply lost more effectively than the Cardinals, dropping a regular-season home opener for the first time since 2001 because they couldn’t protect their punter, couldn’t protect their quarterback, couldn’t run efficiently when it was most needed, couldn’t catch a two-point conversion, couldn’t follow the rules at the most critical juncture, and couldn’t make a 42-yard field goal to win as time expired.

For once the vastly overused phrase "all three phases of the game" applied, although frankly this loss had few defensive fingerprints on it. But if you exonerate the defense and throw in curious offensive play-calling you’d have three failed phases, so there you go.

"We need to coach better, we need to play better, we need to do better than that," Belichick said, and who could argue after the Cardinals insisted on giving the game to the Patriots with 61 seconds to play and the Pats declined to accept?

Christopher Price tells us ten things we learned Sunday. One of them is that there are still issues with the right side of the O-line.

While things have started to stabilize on the left side of the offensive with Mankins and left tackle Nate Solder (with help from a tight end or two along the way), things are still a bit unsettled on the right. Part of that is because right tackle Sebastian Vollmer is continuing to work his way back to full strength after spending most of the spring and summer on the sidelines with a (presumed) back injury.

As was the case in the opener against the Titans, Vollmer and Marcus Cannon split time at right tackle Sunday against Arizona. Meanwhile, Dan Connolly (who suffered a head injury last week against the Titans and was limited in practice over the course of the week) was active, but the Patriots decided to go with Donald Thomas at right guard.

The Cannon/Thomas combo appeared to have a mix-up in protection that ultimately led to a sack of Brady, who was sacked four times and hit six times. (Last time Brady was sacked four times in a game? Last September’s loss to the Bills in Buffalo.) Arizona defensive end Calais Campbell had two sacks and hit Brady a total of three times.

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