The New England Patriots lost to the Denver Broncos, 18-12, in Week 6, falling to 2-3 for the first time since the 2001 season.
Sunday marked the return to the field for Cam Newton, who returned to practice this past week after missing the Week 4 game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Patriots had to shut down practice on Friday after only one day for COVID-related reasons.
The layoff showed, as Newton threw two interceptions and the Patriots’ offense didn’t find the end zone until the fourth quarter. The Patriots’ defense did not allow a touchdown Sunday, holding the Broncos to six Brandon McManus field goals.
QB Drew Lock started for the Broncos for the first time since injuring his shoulder in the Week 2 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Lock started well, throwing aggressively, but his bad pick with five minutes left in the game gave the Patriots life. He threw another one with just over three minutes left, throwing deep when playing safe might have been the smarter play.
The Patriots converted that first INT into a field goal, making it a one-score game, but it was a disappointing result given that interceptor J.C. Jackson had run the ball back to the Denver 25-yard line. The Broncos’ defense deserves some real praise for their performance, even against a rusty Newton and Co., holding down New England most of the game.
Newton had the Patriots in a position to win, down six at the Denver 24-yard line. On fourth-and-10, however, Newton, against an all-out blitz, misfired to an open N’Keal Harry to effectively end the game.
Lock completed only 10 of 24 passes for 189 yards. Tim Patrick had four grabs for 101 yards, including a crucial third-and-21 conversion for 35 yards, and Phillip Lindsay returned from injury to run for 101 yards on 23 carries.
Myriad issues for Patriots offensively
The Patriots’ struggles weren’t all on Newton.
They placed starting guard Shaq Mason on the COVID-19 list before the game and lost right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor to an injury early on Sunday.
That forced the Patriots to shuffle multiple spots on the offensive line, and Newton was sacked four times and hit seven times. The Patriots struggled to run the ball most of the game until Newton started doing work with his legs.
Down 18-3 with just over 10 minutes remaining, Newton ripped off a 38-yard run — giving him more than 5,000 career rush yards on that play — and capped the drive with a 1-yard TD run that had to go to replay after he was originally ruled down.
The Patriots missed on the two-point conversion, as Newton was sacked, keeping it a two-possession game with 8:31 to play.
Newton ran 10 times for 76 yards and a touchdown. He also caught a 16-yard pass on the final drive from Julian Edelman, who actually was 2-for-2 passing for 38 yards, doing more as a passer than he did as a receiver (two grabs, 8 yards).
For all the late-game trickery from Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, it wasn’t enough to patch all of New England’s offensive holes. Handling pressure was a problem all game, and it prevented the Patriots from getting anything down downfield. Their long reception in the game was a 22-yard catch and run by James White.
Newton finished 17-of-25 passing for 157 yards and the two picks. The Patriots’ running backs — Damien Harris, Rex Burkhead and White — combined for 41 rush yards on 15 carries, with a long run of 7. Harry and Edelman combined for two catches on eight targets.
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