The Patriots’ loss to the Vikings was a statistical anomaly


The Patriots seemed to have passed many checkpoints on Thanksgiving, but still lost due to errors in other areas.

Bill Belichick’s Patriots were in position to win on Thanksgiving, but too many mistakes cost them the game. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

If the Patriots’ Thanksgiving loss to the Vikings was unusual for you, that’s because it was.

New England’s 33-26 loss was a statistical anomaly as the Patriots were the first team in the Super Bowl era to score at least 25 points, have at least 400 total yards of offense while outscoring their opponent, to complete at least 70% of their passes. , commit less than 60 penalty yards, have no turnovers or miss a field goal in a game and lose, according to OptaStats. Teams that had done all of these things in one game were previously 170-0.

There are several quirks that could explain why the Patriots still ended up losing despite history saying they should have won. They allowed a 97-yard return touchdown after scoring a touchdown themselves in the third quarter.

The Patriots also went 0 for 3 in red zone odds against the team that had the league’s worst red zone defense at the start of Week 12. However, on one of those occasions, the Patriots appeared to have scored a touchdown when it was originally ruled Hunter Henry made a reception on the goal line in the third quarter. But a replay erased the reception, and therefore the touchdown, as it was determined that Henry did not have full control of the ball throughout the reception process.

Another one of those missed chances in the red zone came in part because the Patriots ran out of time in the first half. They might not have run out of time if Henry went out of bounds on a 22-yard reception and Mac Jones tossed the ball instead of eating a sack, which forced the Patriots to burn their last two timeouts of the half time.

Although the Patriots didn’t have what could be considered a significant amount of penalty yards, they also appeared to be committing penalties at inopportune times. Matthew Judon had an offside penalty on a third play for the Vikings, making it easier for them to get the first down on what ended up being a touchdown for Minnesota in the first half .

Clearly, no penalty was more costly than the one committed by rookie running back Pierre Strong Jr. Strong hit the punter on the fourth and third runs, giving the Vikings a first down and new life on the drive on which they scored the winning touchdown.

Beyond missed chances and self-inflicted errors, there were a few other unusual things for the Patriots in Thursday’s game. They have run the ball just 13 times, by far the fewest rushing attempts they have had in a game this season. They lost time in the possession battle to Minnesota 36:17 to 23:43. Judon, who leads the league in sacks this season with 13, did not record a sack in a game for only the third time this season.

On the other hand, it was Jones’ best game of the season โ€“ at least statistically. The struggling sophomore quarterback threw for a career-high 382 yards and had two touchdowns with no interceptions, earning him a season-high passer rating of 119.8.

When you put all of these things together, it helps explain why Judon felt the way he did after the loss.

“I think one couple calls, one couple plays and it goes the other way,” Judon said. โ€œBut it wasn’t our party tonight. I don’t think we are far. I don’t think this team manipulated us.

โ€œI just think it was just a few calls, a few plays, a few this and a few that and it could have been a different game. But we didn’t make those games. So we have to film and watch them and correct ourselves.

Judson also said he felt more frustrated than disappointed with the loss.

“We have to play better in defense, come up with some of those saves,” Judon said. “In the home stretch, we can’t let them score in back-to-back practices, especially in a game like this. We are not disappointed. We will bond. We will keep coming. But we’re just a little frustrated.

No matter how you split it, Thursday’s game will still count as a loss for the Patriots’ record – which now stands at 6-5. New England has also had a tough Test going forward, with its Week 13 game against the Buffalo Bills one of four remaining games it has against playoff-seeking teams with six. games in total to be played.


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