Patriots vs. Panthers: Live Grades and Analysis for New England

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Patriots vs. Panthers: Live Grades and Analysis for New England
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Tom Brady and Co. came up just a bit short against Carolina.

The New England Patriots lost an extremely well-played Monday Night Football showdown against the Carolina Panthers, dropping to 7-3 on the season.

Check out final grades and analysis below.

 

Final

New England: 20

Carolina: 24

New England Patriots' Grades
Position Unit 1st-Half Grade Final Grade
Pass Offense B- B+
Run Offense C B
Run Defense A- B+
Pass Defense C+ C-
Special Teams A- A-
Coaching C+ B

vs. Panthers

Game Analysis for the New England Patriots

Pass Offense: Any questions about Tom Brady? The Patriots were extremely efficient through the air, taking the short throws that the Panthers zone provided. Brady was also able to drive the Pats down the field at the end of the game with less than a minute, and he gave the team a reasonable chance on a throw to the end zone.

Run Offense: Stevan Ridley came back on the team’s second drive of the half, providing strong running and a touchdown. LeGarrette Blount also put together some impressive bruising runs, ending with a 4.9 yards-per-carry average.

Run Defense: The Panthers running backs were silenced the whole game, but Newton’s legs were a deflating drive-sustainer for much of the game. Newton produced perhaps the most spectacular 14-yard run you will ever see, converted two third downs on the game-winning drive and generally punished the Patriots for missing sack opportunities.

Pass Defense: For a typically opportunistic Patriots defense, the inability to get off the field was what lost the game. New England’s remarkable 36-game streak of forcing a turnover finally ended, and mistakes like Devin McCourty’s holding penalty and Kyle Arrington’s missed tackle characterized the final drive. Tough game for a banged-up unit.

Special Teams: Ryan Allen had a shaky hold that nearly caused Stephen Gostkowski to blow a 26-yard field goal, though he got the ball up in time. Danny Amendola also had a nice punt return that set up New England’s final score. Overall, special teams did not make a particularly huge impact for either team.

Coaching: There will be some questions after the game—why did the Patriots pass on 3rd-and-1 in the red zone, setting up a field goal that would not be good enough to win? And why did the Pats sit back in zone on Carolina’s final drive, allowing Newton to slice up a depleted secondary? But ultimately, the Panthers deserve credit for their stellar execution and late-game situational football. Well-played game by two very good teams.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
The Pats could not stop Cam Newton when it mattered most.

 

First-Half Analysis for the New England Patriots

Pass Offense: Tom Brady has thrown lots of quick-timing routes over the middle, a seemingly conscious game-planning decision to combat the Panthers’ fearsome pass rush. Consequently, Rob Gronkowski has been largely invisible with only one target.

The Pats are moving the ball, but it’s slow, and they’ve faced a ton of 3rd-and-mediums. The offensive line needs to buy Brady a bit more time so the Pats can open up the vertical passing game and jump-start a comeback.

Run Offense: Another Stevan Ridley fumble was a crushing blow, ending a long drive in the red zone. Ridley did not return the rest of the half, signaling that he may have once again found his way into the doghouse. Shane Vereen has been solid in his return, catching three passes and playing over half the snaps.

Run Defense: The Patriots have clearly prioritized containing the Carolina running game, and it’s worked thus far. The Panthers running backs have compiled just 20 yards on eight carries. Apart from a 24-yard Cam Newton run, New England has consistently maintained gap discipline against the Panthers’ different backfield looks.

Pass Defense: The tense Aqib Talib-Steve Smith matchup seemed to set the tone for a fired-up Carolina squad. Smith has gotten the upper hand so far, catching a 42-yard reception and drawing a holding penalty. Additionally, the mostly nonexistent pass rush has given Newton plenty of time to set up and attack downfield.

Special Teams: At long last, the Patriots have switched up their kick return, putting Josh Boyce back in. Unfortunately, Graham Gano leads the league in touchbacks, and the rookie hasn’t gotten a chance to make an impact. Ryan Allen also landed a punt inside the 10, and Stephen Gostkowski made a tough 42-yarder with the wind whipping around.

Coaching: Bill Belichick needs to calm down his team. Two needless personal foul penalties have been absolute killers, and the Patriots generally seem a bit antsy, a shocker for a team that plays plenty of big games. In terms of on-field adjustments, it’s about finding ways to generate pressure on Newton and protect Brady longer.

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