When the Patriots failed to score a touchdown in yesterday's 13-6 loss to the Bengals, it was the first time Tom Brady did not throw a touchdown pass in 52 games. It also happened to be the first time Brady started a game and lost when the Patriots allowed fewer than 15 points.
Adding insult to his team's abysmal offensive performance, Brady watched the Broncos and Cowboys light up the scoreboard to the tune of 99 total points -- Denver won 51-48 -- while flying back home from Cincinnati.
“You see those offenses and those offenses are extremely productive and it seems like it’s just play-after-play, they’re making plays," Brady told WEEI's Dennis and Callahan Show on Monday morning. "That’s what it takes to score points. It doesn’t look like those plays are easily made. They’re just making plays. The quarterbacks both played great games. The receivers played great games. When you can get the defenses reeling a little bit and playing defensively, you know, you can do that. You can score a lot of points.
“That’s what we’re trying to be. We’re trying to be a productive offense that puts points on the board every time we go out there. But the way we’re playing right now, we’re so far from that. We’ve got to focus on the details of the plays, the improvements we can make so that we can go out there and score a touchdown. It’s not about scoring 50 points. It’s about scoring one touchdown first. Then hopefully that one touchdown can lead to another.”
That in-flight show highlighted just how clunky the Patriots offense looked in the wet weather in Cincinnati.
“It was just a day where we never really found any rhythm,” Brady said. “It seemed like every series we had a play that kind of knocked us backwards and got us off track. We just couldn’t string together enough good plays to get us in the end zone. I said after the game there’s very few games in the NFL where you can score six points and win.
“We just had one of those days where nothing really seemed to go right. We had plenty of opportunity out there. We just never took advantage of it. Pretty disappointing to lose the game. Hopefully we can learn from it and move forward this week and have our best game. That’s what I’m hoping for.”
Though little went right for Brady and his offensive teammates, what may have contributed most to their stalled drives and lack of points was an inability to convert on third down.
“It was pretty poor all the way around,” Brady said. “There was not a lot of production. There was not a lot of production in the pass game, in the run game. We only had 250 yards offense, 1-of-12 on third down. If you can’t stay on the field because you’re not converting third downs, then you never really get a chance to balance the game out running the ball. We had some efficient runs, [but] because we sucked on third down we just really could never get them into a situation where they started playing defensively. They were able to really do whatever they wanted with us, and we played totally on their terms all day because of our lack of ability to convert on third down.”
Brady was asked if he thinks his team can compete for a championship based on what he's seen and what he expects going forward.
“That’s a long ways for now. We’re still kind of seeking individual improvement. Things like playoff and championships are so far from our thinking,” Brady said. “Those things all take care of themselves if you make individual improvement and team improvement. We’re just at a point where we’re lacking consistency and we’re lacking consistency at a down-by-down basis. It’s leading to too any punts, too many turnovers and not putting up points on the board. It’s very disappointing as an offense when you come out of the game with six points. None of us expect that."
First, the Patriots will look to put Sunday's loss behind them quickly and prepare to host the undefeated Saints in Week 6.
"That’s one of the most prolific offenses in the league. They have been for a long time. They have a pretty good defense too. So that’s why they’re sitting at 5-0. They’re one of the best teams in the league. We’re going to see where we matchup up against them. I feel like at times we’ve done a pretty good job. We’ve got to do it for 60 minutes at some point against a good team. But it’s all on our dependability, our consistency. We’re going to need that this week. We could score 20 points and this team that we’re playing, because of what they do offensively they can put up as many as anybody. We got to try to go out and do that and match them. We’re playing at home. Hopefully our communication is better and hopefully we can go out and put a bunch of points on the board."
By then the Patriots may have tight end Rob Gronkowski back in the fold. And perhaps Danny Amendola is worked in to a more significant role in the Patriots offense.
The bright side to New England's subpar performance on Sunday is that they're nowhere near full strength. Not only are they missing one of the best middle-of-the-field receiving threats in the league in Gronkowski, they were also without their two top running backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen.
That they have just one loss on the season and still maintain good standing in the AFC East are encouraging facts not lost on Brady.
“The positive is we’re 4-1 after all the crap that we’ve been through this year," he said. "We’re still in a pretty good position within our division and within the conference. We have our whole season ahead of us. We need to develop some strengths that we can really build on going forward. It’s only going to get tougher from here.”