You may want to call this past Sunday night a ‘moral victory,’ but here’s why you shouldn’t.

It felt like everything broke the Patriots way in Sunday night’s primetime matchup with Brady and the Bucs. The game went exactly how they needed it to in order to win, and they still didn’t.

The Bucs looked bad on offense, Brady was overwhelmed with emotion and didn’t look like himself, the Tampa secondary was in brutal shape, and you got a lot of gifts from the officials.

What everyone is tied up on, of course, is how this game ended with a 56-yard field goal attempt from Nick Folk in the last minute of the game to take a 1-point lead.

Despite how close the kick came to being good, it wasn’t.

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Rather than go for it on 4th and 3 to continue killing the clock while moving closer to a more comfortable field goal, Bill felt more comfortable going for the lead with Folk for 56 yards. You can’t assume it would’ve been a game-winner since Brady still had a minute and two timeouts left to get a field goal.

What’s clear is that Bill wasn’t comfortable enough to put the game in Mac’s hands for one play, to win or lose. Mac had a good game but still had a couple of shaky plays down the stretch that could or should’ve been picked. There’s no doubt that Bill was thinking about this and that it ultimately influenced his decision on that fourth down.

You would still think that you have better odds of getting 3 yards than hitting a 56-yard field goal in the rain at the end of the day. But say the odds are about the same. Bill would rather have Nick Folk lose them the game than their rookie quarterback, which makes me believe he cares way more about narrative and what the media is saying than he shows.

In other words, I think he cared more about how this loss looked than really going for a win.

Really? Nick Folk hasn’t made a kick that long in 10 years, and it was in Denver.

Now you’re going to send him out for that distance, in the rain, and not even think about the other option because why? Did he hit a 58 yarder in warm-ups?

Who cares? He apparently missed some that were shorter than that, and, more importantly, it was warmups.

There are still some things to be excited about. It was a bounce-back week for tight ends, a good night for Judon, and Mac showed that he is clearly not affected by pressure. Like I mentioned, he did have some close-call near picks at the end of the game, but those looked more like rookie mistakes and a consequence of overuse rather than Mac feeling the moment get to him.

Given how big of a deal this week’s 4 game with the Bucs was, unfortunately, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the most effort we see out of this team all season. And there is still certainly more to be concerned with, like the holes we’re seeing in coverage, poor performance in the red zone, and linemen struggling in the run game on both sides of the ball.

What no one is talking about is the Patriots being 4–10 in their last 14 one-possession games and 10-16 in their last 26 games. The story really should be that Bill is continuing to lose close games, but because the quarterback looks good most fans, and media are willing to keep looking past that.

But how good Mac Jones looks won’t matter at all for the future of the Patriots if the offensive line continues to be as bad as they are right now. I’m also afraid that Trent Brown coming back, whenever that may be, may not even fix all the problems this line has right now.

It feels unnecessary to be writing this for a fourth straight week, but Mac Jones really did get destroyed again this week on just about every throw he made. For those who say ‘at least they improved,’ I would tell them that I believe it’s hard NOT to improve when last week you didn’t even show up for the first half.

You can argue that this team already has two moral victories this year but what’s unarguable is that they are 1-3 and a loss this week away from entering a true rock bottom.

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