The New England Patriots played a little better in Sunday's Week 6 road game against the Las Vegas Raiders, but the self-inflicted wounds that have torpedoed them throughout the 2023 NFL season showed up at the worst possible times in a 21-17 loss at Allegiant Stadium.
How the Patriots started and finished Sunday's game was particularly noteworthy.
The Patriots' first offensive drive started with two penalties and resulted in a three-and-out. They quickly fell behind 10-0 and trailed 13-3 at halftime. After getting back into the game with a fourth quarter touchdown to trim the Raiders' lead to 19-17, the Patriots got the ball back at their own 9-yard line with 2:23 remaining. All they needed was a field goal to take the lead.
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Two bad penalties and a safety ruined their chances of winning.
Former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi had a strong take on what these penalties say about head coach Bill Belichick's ability to get through to his players.
Not reaching the players? That's not a good sign.
Bruschi also talked about whether this season should be Belichick's last in New England, and the difficult decisions that await team owner Robert Kraft in the offseason.
The Patriots are 1-5 for the first time since 1995, and if the season ended today, they would have the No. 6 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. The roster has serious weaknesses on both sides of the ball, and much of that is due to Belichick's poor drafting and free agent moves.
If the losing continues, it wouldn't be shocking if the Patriots and Belichick parted ways in the offseason. A fresh start could do wonders for the organization.
The biggest question mark in that scenario would be whether Belichick tries to coach somewhere else or just retires. Belichick is only 18 wins away from breaking Don Shula's all-time record, and if he goes to the right team, it might take just two years to reach that milestone.