Patriots-Broncos Overreactions: Time to trade for a pass-catcher? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Who saw THAT coming?
We knew the New England Patriots may have some rust to shake off after their unexpected bye in Week 5. We didn't know the lowly Denver Broncos would come into New England and hand the Patriots one of their more disappointing home losses in recent memory.
The Broncos kept New England out of the end zone until the fourth quarter Sunday en route to a shocking 18-12 upset that dropped the Patriots to 2-3 on the season.
So, how bad was this loss for the Patriots? Here are three instant overreactions to the team's 18-12 defeat.
1. The Patriots won't make the playoffs if they don't acquire a pass-catcher before the NFL trade deadline.
Verdict: Slight overreaction
New England's primary offensive weakness was glaring Sunday: This team has an embarrassing lack of wide receiver and tight end talent.
Julian Edelman looked like a shell of himself with two receptions for eight yards, while Damiere Byrd and practice squad call-up Isaiah Zuber were the only other wide receivers with catches. (N'Keal Harry had zero catches on two targets.) Tight end Ryan Izzo caught three passes for 38 yards but coughed up a costly fumble.
The Patriots' pass-catchers simply couldn't get open against Denver's secondary, which may explain why Newton threw two interceptions and fumbled twice, recovering one.
Newton and the rushing attack can't carry this team the whole season, and the Patriots need to find a wide receiver and/or tight end who can create separation if they want to be a legitimate playoff contender.
New England also needs more out of its current group, though, and could probably sneak into the postseason if Edelman and Harry give the offense more than their current paltry contributions.
Lock tried his darndest to give the Patriots a shot in this one.
The Broncos took an 18-3 lead into the fourth quarter and simply needed to control possession to cruise to victory. Instead, Lock inexplicably took several deep shots downfield, two of which resulted in crucial interceptions in the final five minutes that allowed the Patriots to climb back in a game they had no business being in.
The 23-year-old QB has plenty of talent, but he made some incredibly poor decisions Sunday. That said, backup Brett Rypien threw three interceptions last week against the New York Jets, so he may not have fared much better. But Lock didn't inspire much confidence as Denver's QB of the future.
3. The Patriots still have a top-five defense.
Verdict: Not an overreaction
This game would have been a rout if the Patriots' defense didn't stand on its head.
New England bent plenty but never broke, holding Denver to six field goals and zero touchdowns despite the Broncos enjoying great field position all day thanks to three Patriots turnovers.
But New England's defense made plays when it mattered most to get Denver off the field -- the Broncos were 4-for-14 on third down -- and remains one of the best units in the NFL.