Curran: Blowout loss just what the Pats needed

Curran: Blowout loss just what the Pats needed
August 23, 2013, 2:00 am
Share This Post

DETROIT – Good for them. Like vegetables and gum cleanings, sometimes a sound beating is good medicine.
 
Thursday night in Detroit, the Patriots had some of the spring taken out of their preseason step. And that will end up benefitting them.
 
There’s not a player in the Patriots locker room – no matter how young – that doesn’t know better than the rest of us that professional football is hard and that self-inflicted wounds are the worst kind.
 
But the 40-9 pounding the Patriots took in Detroit brought the message home to THIS group of players in a very concrete way.
 
The Patriots first five drives ended thusly: fumble at the Detroit 10, punt, fumble at their own 13, interception, fumble at their own 8.
 
The Lions, still carrying the wounds from an embarrassing loss last week to Cleveland, brought an effort the Patriots couldn’t match. And the result was a blowout.
 
“They came out with a lot of energy and we didn’t execute the way we need to,” said linebacker Jerod Mayo. “You have to make it into a positive. Sometimes you need that whupping to get going. It will be worth nothing if you don’t learn from it. We have a young team. Sometimes you get comfortable all across the board and we have to improve and not let it happen again.”
 
The record will show that the 2011 Patriots got their hands handed to them by Detroit in a similar way, losing the third preseason game 34-10. That team went on to play in the Super Bowl five months later.
 
That team saw the light. This team was shown it Thursday night.
 
The turnovers – especially from a team that is so ridiculously effective at protecting the ball were egregious. And they will give Bill Belichick endless ammo this week.
 
“There are certain big plays in every game and we all have to realize that it can happen at anytime especially when you play a good team on the road and they get the momentum,” said Tom Brady. “We just gotta play better football. We had a couple good weeks against Tampa and Philly and then you have a week like this where you figure out, ‘Look, we’re not anywhere near where we need to be.’
 
“We kick off in two weeks and we have to play a helluva lot better than we played tonight,” Brady added. “That’s a good lesson for all of us I don’t care who you are, this is the NFL. It’s a very humbling game  if you don’t bring it every single night, every week, you’ll get your butt kicked. There are great players on the other team. We have to do a lot better at all positions. I’m sure that will be a point of emphasis for us.
 
The night’s first gaffe came courtesy of camp sensation Zach Sudfeld, stripped inside the Lions 10 after a nice reception on the Patriots opening drive.
 
“It was a mistake and you just gotta secure the ball,” Sudfeld explained. “It’s something you work on and it’s something I didn’t do.”
 
The next came from Brandon Bolden, turned over deep in the Patriots own end. The next was off the hand of Brady, who threw into traffic when rookie Aaron Dobson got bumped off his route on a quick slant. The final one was a fumble by Shane Vereen on a simple dive play on third down.  
 
“There wasn’t enough execution by anybody,” said Vereen. “Too many mistakes, too many turnovers, myself included. It’s a drive killer, it’s a momentum killer.”
 
Even though they’re young, even though they’ve shown skill, there is no saying, “It’s OK...” after a turnover. Because it isn’t, ever, said Brady.
 
“Not against good teams. You lose the turnover battle 4-0 you have like a two percent chance of winning the game,” said the quarterback. “It’s like impossible. So we always talk about turnovers and protecting the ball and we had a couple of games where we did a good job protecting it then you have a game like this and these are the ones you lose. We’ve always been a team that does take care of the ball and we’ve got to be that way this year or this is the result. This is a point of emphasis for our team. You’re always on high alert. Our defense did a great job keeping them out of the end zone. But our offense, in order to score points, we’re gonna have to string a lot of good plays together.”
 
It’s been rainbows and unicorns for the young players so far. Brady, too. He was 18-for-20 in his first two preseason games and was barely bothered. Without Danny Amendola on the field for this one, and with a cutthroat Lions front anxious to tear into him, he was unsettled in the pocket before departing after halftime.
 
The Patriots first defense fared pretty well given the short fields they were forced to protect. Still, the performance of their backups in the second half was amateurish. Between that, the lack of a running game, the collapsing pocket around Brady and the turnovers, Belichick will wear out the rewind button on the game tape this week showing the mistakes in all their ugly glory.
 
Anything you can take from a loss like this, Sebastian Vollmer was asked.
 
Reluctantly, he sighed and said, “I guess that’s the silver lining. There’s a couple weeks of camp left. But we better start fixing it fast.”
 
A little urgency and a little adversity – especially when the games don’t yet count – are never a bad thing.