For almost two decades, every fourth quarterback comeback seemed like a walk in the park for the New England Patriots. However, if we’ve learned anything this year, it’s that nothing comes easy.
That has certainly been the case for the 2020 New England Patriots. Three of the New England’s losses this year have come down to the final play/drive, including Sunday’s 24-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills when quarterback Cam Newton fumbled on Buffalo’s 13-yard line with 37 seconds remaining.
“We’re close, and I think everybody can attest to that,” Newton said in his weekly appearance on WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show. “We’ve got to find ways.
“We’ve had opportunities in this year that we’ve lost some extremely close games. But yet, the optimistic [takeaway] that you can get from that is just, one play here, one play there, and those are different games. … I do have confidence in knowing that we can turn this thing around and we will turn this thing around.”
The Patriots offense did look like they were starting to figure things out on Sunday. They scored touchdowns on back-to-back drives for the first time this season and before Newton’s fumble, drove into the red zone for a potential game tying/go-ahead score.
“Honestly, when I look in the locker room, it’s a bunch of guys that’s giving supreme effort,” Newton said.
“At the end of the day, this game is all about production, team production, and for us to be on this losing streak, it has affected everybody, but I don’t think anybody consciously has just folded the tent and said, ‘You know what, I’m going to give up,’ because that’s not the case,” Newton said. “Coach always says we just have to do a better job coaching better, playing better, having more effort, being more dominant, playing 60 minutes of focused football and that’s what it’s coming down to.
“I think everybody in that locker room knows what we can potentially be and what we’re capable of being, it just takes 53 guys believing and understanding and doing their given job each and every day.”
Despite the turnover — Newton’s sixth in last three games — the quarterback seemed to take steps forward on Sunday. He completed 15 of 25 passes for 174 yards and added nine carries for 54 yards and one touchdown.
“The optimistic thing about it is, I felt more comfortable yesterday and building off of things, working with Josh [McDaniels], working with Jedd [Fisch] and just going back to playing smart football,” Newton said. “But just one play can just alter a person’s feel for the whole overall game and that’s just unfortunate, but that’s what this game is. Nobody cares how much you put in throughout the week, they just care about the end-of-the-week production...
“I feel like I’m getting better, I know I’m getting better and just the comfort in this offense is going to pop,” the quarterback explained.
The Patriots now find themselves in the midst of a four-game losing streak. Newton acknowledged it has been a “slippery slope” since he received a positive Coronavirus test on October 2nd. Following Newton’s positive, a total of eight Patriot players landed on the Reserve/Covid-19 list as New England was in and out of the facility for almost two weeks.
Since Newton’s diagnosis, the Patriots have failed to win a game this season. The quarterback knows they just need one win to get back on track.
“Just the vibe that you get in the locker room is, ‘We just need one,’” Newton said on WEEI. ”Because going back and knowing this team as well as I do know this team, coming off that Raiders win, man, I think everybody had a full head of steam and momentum. And then, obviously, what happened with COVID and everything like that, it’s just been a slippery slope. Walking down a slippery aisle, trying to regain your footing. And one thing that I do know about this team is once we get that first one, that next one is almost, ‘OK, we know how to win. We know how this feels. This is where situational football kicks in. Let’s do a better job of doing this, that and the third.’
“There’s no doubt in my mind that guys are taking the proper steps and focusing on each and every day, each and every rep, each and every practice. That will inevitably lead to in-game success for one particular game. We have a relatively young, but mature team that keeps everybody focused and in line with what the common goal is for that specific day and week.”
Since 1990, only seven teams that have started 2-5 have made the playoffs. With their current 2-5 record, New England now sits 3 1/2 games back in the AFC East and 2 1/2 back of the AFC’s final wild-card spot. It will be an uphill battle the second half of the season, one that begins with a Monday night matchup with the winless New York Jets.
When asked if he believes they can still make the playoffs, Newton kept the same weekly approach he’s had all season: “I think this team can win the next game.”
“We just got to keep doing what we’re doing and a little more, with a little focus and just putting in the proper work, that's going to get us over the hump,” Newton said. “Because we’re close.”
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