The Patriots are a prime example of how the NFL can change in a week’s span.
Last week against the Ravens the defense played its best game of the year, limiting Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore offense to just 17 points in the 23-17 win.
It was a great gameplan by Bill Belichick and Co. and the players delivered.
A week later against Houston, it was a different story.
The defense had no answer for Deshaun Watson and the Texans passing game, as Watson threw for 344 yards, the most against the Patriots defense this season and most since Patrick Mahomes had 352 in Week 6 of the 2018 season.
The biggest issue were the number of big plays allowed.
The Patriots allowed seven pass plays of 20 yards of more, which brings them to 36 on the year, tied for fifth-most in the NFL.
“We knew that we were going to have to come in here and just contain Watson and really contain the passing game,” Patriots safety Adrian Phillips said via video conference afterwards. “We knew everything that we had to do. We just didn’t get it done, and that’s the most frustrating part. Even though they’re a good team, that was a winnable game, and we didn’t do enough to win it.”
A year after the unit was the best in football, through 10 games it now is 16th overall and 13th in points allowed.
And it wasn’t like Watson picked on one cornerback in particular, it was the entire secondary that allowed big catches. No one player was immune.
The game marked the first time the Patriots allowed 80-plus receiving yards to three different receivers since 2011. Watson completed multiple passes to nine different receivers.
While the Patriots offense certainly has its flaws, there’s no doubt Sunday’s loss was about the defense.