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Patriots vs. Broncos: Fan Notes from the Game

Related: 3 winners and 5 losers from the Patriots’ 18-12 loss against the Broncos

Denver Broncos v New England Patriots Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images

I have good news, everyone - you’re all still here.

This has been the longest March on record...but we’re all still hanging around. And since yesterday’s game was a bit of a fiasco, may as well just get right to it.

  • I have to get this out of the way right from the getgo: I didn’t watch the game yesterday. I made a professional commitment in Mid-May of this year to work at a conference, and because of that I didn’t watch a single snap of football this week. Before you go questioning my fandom, remember that the Patriots were supposed to be on a bye this week, and so I planned accordingly. Now if you want to call me out for being so stupid as to assume the NFL would be handling the inevitable scheduling snafus with a better degree of competency, then let me have it. That’s a justifiable criticism.
  • I really wish I knew what the logic behind the NFL’s testing protocols are. I mean that sincerely, that’s not any kind of dig. And I’m no medical professional, nor am I qualified to speak to the effectiveness of what the league is doing to prevent a massive outbreak. I was just under the impression that someone could contract COVID, go home immediately, self-isolate, and test negative every single day for up to two weeks. Then, on day 14, they could test positive. And for the entirety of that two week period, even though they feel fine and have tested negative every single day, they could spread the virus to anybody they come in contact with. I hope I’m wrong on that one, because if that’s the case, it seems like two consecutive days of negative testing after someone in close proximity to you tests positive isn’t going to do a damn thing.
  • I’d like to hope no matter what your stance is on this thing - from “it’s just the flu, good lord get over it” to “this is going to wipe out half the population and you don’t even care,” all rationally, respectfully, and logically debated via that eternal bastion of truth and factual accuracy, The Internet - we all want to see the virus go away as soon as possible. And if it going away means me missing a few weeks of football, I’ll take that trade any day of the week.
  • Speaking of missing a week of football, it sounds like this was a fine game to miss, as every highlight, stat sheet, and comment I’ve seen seems to suggest that this one was an absolute stinker. Both teams combined for less that 400 yards through the air and neither quarterback threw a TD pass. Each threw two picks, though, to combine with the five combined fumbles (four by the Patriots). It’s almost as if having your entire schedule completely upended and only having two team practices since September has an adverse effect on your on-field performance.
  • It’s also like having to completely rotate your offensive line, call guys up from the practice squad, and cobble together bodies with everyone demoted to the COVID list is going to have your quarterback who hasn’t played a snap of football in a month running for his life.
  • The Patriots had three first half possessions, four if you want to count a one play kneeldown to close out the quarter - interception, punt, field goal. That’s the NFL equivalent of ordering the pre-fixe dinner at a steakhouse and getting salad, vegetarian chili, and a fruit bowl as your courses.
  • Watching the 10 minute highlight reel for this game, the following offensive plays made the cut:
  • Screen pass to James White
  • Six yard completion to Ryan Izzo
  • 10 yard completion to Ryan Izzo
  • 16 yard completion to Isaiah Zuber
  • 13 yard completion to Damien Harris
  • 15 yard completion to Damiere Byrd
  • A long Cam Newton run
  • A double Edelman-to-White pass
  • A Edelman-to-Newton pass
  • A QB sneak on 4th and 1
  • A Cam Newton QB sneak into the end zone on 3rd and Goal
  • That’s it. That should be about a drive and a half’s worth of plays, with a few razzle dazzles thrown in for good measure.
  • The defensive highlights, though, were pretty fun to watch, particularly Ja’Whaun Bentley in run support. This game easily could have been 28-3 at halftime and once again, the Patriots defense kept the team in it. On two separate occasions, the Broncos went three and out and still got six points on field goals.
  • J.C. Jackson looked like the man out there. Pass breakups and a key pick that should have turned the game around.
  • Credit to the Broncos, who were also thrown out of whack and missing some key players on offense. You do what you have to do to win, and it seems like they were better prepared and executed on the ground better.
  • The Patriots seem to have one of these games every year. They just completely lay an egg against a team they probably should have beaten. More often than not, it’s a learning moment, a chance to motivate and come back strong. Absolutely no
  • Also - the last time I was this emotionally uninvested in a Patriots football season was 1992, when New England lost their first nine games and were never on TV due to regional blackout rules. I’m just finding it impossible to give a single crap about the NFL this year. I will say that at first, my apathy was mainly due to my looking at the current national landscape and figuring that there was just no way the season would end up finishing. However, based on how the league has decided to structure its schedule amidst various outbreaks, I’m now fairly convinced that they’re going to move ahead with a full slate of games no matter what happens, barring some kind of nationally mandated stoppage of all mass gatherings that comes from the government. So maybe I’ll get back into it as the season surges on. But I don’t know...this whole thing doesn’t feel like it’s a real season to me. We’re all just kind of going through the motions.
  • That said - I’ve never enjoyed sports more while caring about it less than I have this year. I remember watching the Red Sox season opener against the Orioles outside on my deck in the hammock with a beer and enjoying that small sense of summer normalcy. The act of watching a sporting event is a nice little break from whatever reality we’re in, so in that respect, football is still fun. It’s just not the same.

Moving on.