The New England Patriots have had a handful of uncharacteristic issues this season, from fumbles to penalties. Bill Belichick is known for avoiding mistakes, and his coaching staff tends to follow his lead. But the Patriots defense has had two instances of having the wrong number of players on the field over the last two weeks.
Against the New Orleans Saints in Week 3, the Patriots had just 10 players on the field for running back Alvin Kamara’s receiving touchdown. Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 4, New England had the opposite problem: with 12 men in the huddle, a penalty. The Patriots defense committed that 5-yard penalty on a 3rd-and-6, and they gave the Bucs a 3rd-and-1, which they converted with a three-yard run.
Patriots safeties coach Brian Belichick said he had “no excuses.”
“It is just something that’s unacceptable,” Belichick said during a videoconference with the media on Tuesday. “We all need to know who needs to be on the field, regardless of the group or situation.”
The Patriots (1-3) have lost two of their games by a margin of two points or fewer. That’s the kind of defeat where the little mental errors end up changing the game. That’s why these two mistakes stood out.