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Replay: Best of Radio Thu Apr 18 - 02:00 PM | Tue Apr 23 - 11:55 AM

Ask PFW: Red flag loss

Following a rare Patriots loss, the fans of Patriots Nation have plenty to say. This week’s edition of Ask PFW contains reactions to the team’s 1-1 start, disbelief over Bill Belichick’s decision not to challenge a questionable Panthers touchdown and the usual serving of random questions.

Enjoy your comments and insight. On the play where Stephen Davis fumbled the ball inside the one yard line, according to Richard Seymour the official ruled that it was recovered by a Panther player in the end zone and was not reviewable. Is there not an NFL rule that inside the 20 yard line a team may not advance the ball by way of recovering its own fumble. I believe this rule was made after Kenny Stabler kicked a fumble forward before his teammate recovered it and subsequently scored a touchdown. Perhaps, by tossing the bean bag, this aspect of the play might have been reviewed.Bob Robertson

I completely disagree with BB's failure to make a challenge of the goal-line play. While, admittedly at best you end up with a 2nd and goal -- it was still the first half - -time outs are not as important. The low risk of using a 1st half time-out was well worth the potential reward. After all, the Pats could have caused a fumble, interception or held the Panthers to a field goal on 2nd and 3rd down. To me this was a no brainer. Very low risk with potential for great reward. 2. The error was then miserably compounded when the coaches then failed to use the first half time-outs. In other words, the Pats failed to use the goal-line challenge to save their time-outs at the end of the half and then completely failed to effectively use their time-outs at the end of the half. The Pats had over a minute left on the clock and made the pathetic decision to not mount a drive to put them at least in field goal range. With a quick scoring offense as potent as the Patriots this decision was completely baffling. 3. However, I thought the failure to challenge the Brady fumble was the worst coaching decision or indecision of the day. The "fumble" gave the ball to Carolina on the Patriots 10. This one was definitely worth a challenge as it was not clear on the replay that Brady's arm was not coming forward. Thus, I ask: Has the Patriots coaching staff become complacent, arrogant or were they sleeping during this game? I realize the play was subpar but, to me, all of these coaching decisions or indecisions were no-brainers.
George from Alabama

I know Belichick has earned the right to not be questioned very often, but I cannot understand why Bill wouldn't challenge a couple of plays that had an impact on the game. Two of the plays I'm talking about were the Stephen Davis "touchdown" and the Ben Watson fumble. Stephen Davis obviously didn't cross the plain of the end zone with the ball and he definitely fumbled. And with Watson why wouldn't you just throw the red flag just in case he was down so a comeback could still be possible. These non-actions by Belichick didn't make any sense to me.
Dan Carnevale

Credit the Panthers for playing a tough game, but did Belichick misplace his red flag? I can think of 3 critical questionable calls which seriously affected the game which went unchallenged; 1. Davis' fumble at the goal line which was ruled a TD. 2. Brady's fumble as he was getting ready to pass, recovered by Carolina deep in Pats territory. 3. Vrabel's strip of Davis in the 4th qtr. which was ruled down--though I'm not sure if it was blown dead or not, which would have invalidated the use of the red flag. What do you guys think?Ravi

All I can say is wow! Patriots fans have been reduced to the second guessing and grasping for hope that is normally left to New England's fallen opponents. But I will be honest and admit I would have challenged the touchdown run. While Belichick said there wasn't enough information to challenge the call or have it overturned, I disagree. I think you had enough there to at least take a chance, especially since every camera angle we have seen says it wasn't a touchdown. As risk/reward scenarios go, I think the opportunity to take seven points off the board outweighs the possibility of losing a first-half touchdown.
As far as the explanation that Seymour was given, it doesn't hold water. While any player can recover a fumble anywhere (unless it is on fourth down or after the two-minute warning, in which case only the player who fumbled can recover and advance it), the explanation for the touchdown was that Davis had broken the plane. It had nothing to do with an offensive linemen recovering it in the end zone, that just wasn't part of the play. Davis was credited with the score because they felt he broke the plane; no other Panthers player was involved with the score.
The Brady sack/fumble was much clearer in my mind than what most Patriots fans have expressed. Even if you argue that his arm was moving forward, the ball went backwards when it left Brady's hand, making it a fumble. It's just like a dump off to a running back, if it goes backwards and is incomplete then it becomes a fumble. Making things even more clear is the fact that Brady himself said it was a simple play – a fumble. If he doesn't argue than why should we.
But in the end I think all the discussions about red flags and challenges lose sight of the fact that the Patriots played a terrible game, especially on offense and special teams, and deserved to lose to a talented Panthers team. New England got punched in the mouth and stunned, momentarily, by a talented NFL foe. Now the questions is whether they will bounce back in another tough road challenge this week in Pittsburgh. Based on the character of the players and coaches, as well as the fact that I can't remember the last time the team played back-to-back stinker games, I would guess they'll be more ready to play by 4 p.m. on Sunday at Heinz Field. -- Andy Hart

Run Game? Specials Teams? Blocking? Snap Count? Catch the ball before you run with it. Brady coundn't hit anybody and when he did they dropped it. What the [heck] was that? We win as a team and lose as a team...and boy did we do that. We looked horrible @ Carolina. OK...a little refresher for the PATS nation. Week 1 two years ago @ Buffalo, 31-0. We lost one more after that...Week 8 last year @ Pittsburgh they gave us a woopin', We lost one more after that. It isn't gonna be the glory years of old with all the changes but they didn't take us this far without a little trust in B.B. I know we were all coaching from our couches on Sunday but it's time to stand by our credo..." In Bill I Trust". No question, just needed to vent. Thanx.Dave Cruz

I think Dave is taking a very intelligent approach to the loss. Now, if the Patriots come out this week and aren't able to run the ball, catch passes, stay onside, tackle on special teams or match the intensity of a physical opponent, then I think it might be time to question the 2005 Patriots. But until that happens let's remember the back-to-back defending Super Bowl champs are in the midst of a very tough early season schedule that was expected to challenge the big changes the team has undergone this offseason.
Andy Hart

Obviously the Patriots did a lot of things wrong against the Panthers - unable to run, stop the run, turnovers, dropped balls, too many penalties, etc. One area which has been a big problem this year and last is special teams, both the kicking and punt teams (both kicking and receiving). Since coach Belichick holds players and coaches accountable, how is it that Brad Seely still has a job? Our special teams play is pathetic.Chuck Humphrey

There is little question that special team is a big concern and has been for more than a year now. Belichick and Co. targeted the area this offseason, especially punt returns and kick coverage. The fact that they are still struggling in the early going is a problem. Seely has been a very successful special teams coach in the NFL for 17 seasons and he wouldn't be here if Belichick didn't have confidence in him. But if the struggles continue, he and his various special teams units are going to start to hear an increasingly louder wave of criticism. It's too important for winning, and an area that Belichick spends a lot of time trying to get right, for it to be this bad.
Andy Hart

Good afternoon, gentlemen - tough game yesterday. For all the hype we have heard about the Pats tight ends, the most impressive play made by one was Ben Watson's touchdown preventing tackle on yet another botched punt return coverage. And, yes, I was impressed - his speed was truly remarkable. My question is, why don't the Pats incorporate it more into their offense? The Pats were clearly the less dominant and determined team yesterday. What better way to re-establish their own reputation as a tough and physical team than to incorporate more tight end action in the play calling? Watson, Graham and Fauria are all capable of producing big offensive plays, and I think causing opposing defenses to focus more on their pass catching abilities would enable them and the Pats offense as a whole to open up the running game a bit more. I know a two tight end set isn't traditionally part of the Pats game plan, but against a tough Steeler's defense coming up, a duplicate performance of yesterday's effort will only result in a similar outcome. Any thoughts? Lastly, while some teams might need some short-term help at quarterback (Atlanta?) and others clearly need a more permanent solution (Baltimore?), has Mr. Davey received any interest that you know of? Thanks.
Grant Millar

As a Patriots fan you probably know part of this answer before you read it. The offense doesn't target any one player to get the ball, it goes to whoever is open, has a better matchup or is producing in any give game. But I agree that Watson has the freakish athletic ability to create serious matchup problems for a defense. I have always said that the tight end down the seam is the most underused play in the NFL. Watson has the ability to get open, make plays and open up things for the rest of the offense. I, like you, want to see him get the ball more. It'll be interesting to see if he can create a larger role for himself on the offense in the coming weeks. In terms of Rohan Davey, I know he worked out with the Texans but wasn't offered a contract. I haven't heard much more after that.
Andy Hart

Sup dudes? First off, that Carolina game stunk! From the coaching on down they got some work to do. Nobody, and I mean absolutely nobody was on the ball. Now that I vented I have an unrelated question. Who were the coaches on the 1996 Super Bowl team? If you can, give me the name and position they held. Oh, by the way, I am sure we will not repeat that [awful game] in Pittsburgh! Go PATS!

Starting at the top, obviously, Bill Parcells was the Patriots head coach in 1996. Belichick was the team's assistant head coach/secondary coach. The rest of the assistants were Al Groh (defensive coordinator/linebackers), Maurice Carthon (running backs coach), Romeo Crennel (defensive line), Fred Hoaglin (offensive line), Chris Palmer (wide receivers), Johnny Parker (strength and conditioning), Ray Perkins (offensive coordinator), Mike Pope (tight ends), Dante Scarnecchia (defensive assistant/linebackers), Mike Sweatman (special teams) and Charlie Weis (wide receivers).
Andy Hart

Greetings from Belize. I finally got the Sunday package fron Direct TV this weekend and alas, by beloved Pats lost. Oh well....They still kick [butt]! Anyways, I was really annoyed by how many stoppages in play there was and especially, commercials. Frequently there is a time-out, commercial, punt, commercial, injury, commercial, two-minute warning........commercial. I was going absolutely crazy. I can't take all these time outs, especially with some really stupid commercials out there. Is this how it is now? I'm not sure I want to watch anymore. At least in soccer they play two 45-minute halves blissfully free of timeouts and blabby commercials. Maybe the NFL makes so much money they don't care, but don't they want a better product for their fans?Shane Orio

Sorry, but much of the money the NFL makes is from those same commercials you are complaining about. That's how NFL games are now. It is a made-for-TV production that starts and stops with that in mind. The networks have get back the billons of dollars they pay for the games somehow. I understand it makes for a segmented game and can be tough to watch, but it's not going to change. My advice is to embrace it by using that time to go to the bathroom, get another beverage, grab some more sacks or, at the very least, check out the action in the other games. Put that Direct TV package to good use.
Andy Hart

Is it just me or are people secretly rooting against the Pats this year? It feels like being a fan of the Duke basketball team, one who works hard, does a lot right, has a great coach, and wins.....maybe too much. Have fans gotten tired of hearing how brilliant Belichick is, how cool Tom Brady they play together as a team....I think everyone outside of Boston just wants to see a more flashy team like the Colts, Falcons, Eagles or Bengals win. Teams that sell more t-shirts and are on the cover of X-Box games. I guess this year we really have to win this one with plenty of adversity. Do you guys ever feel the same way?Tad Hamilton

I think what you are witnessing with the Patriots is the natural progression in all sports. Why should anyone outside of Patriots Nation root for New England? They root for their favorite team. Beyond that they root for underdogs or a team with some other compelling story. Neutral national fans get sick of the seeing the same teams win. That's why people who don't love teams like the Yankees, Cowboys, Lakers and Canadians – hate them. People love to root for the underdog and against the dominant favorite. As a Patriots fan, just enjoy the fact that your team is that dominant favorite that everyone else likes to root against. New England winning has become old news and old news is boring.
Andy Hart

I know that all teams know the teams that will be on their schedule right after the season. I also know that only two games are decided by the previous season's record. But who decides on what date and where each team will play? For example, why are we at Pittsburgh yet again? Why do we play four away games against 2004 playoff teams in the first six weeks? I realize that the Pats are the defending champs and should be challenged, but this is pushing it. Is there a group of NFL guys sitting around a table in the offseason with clipboards just picking schedules at random? If the league loves promoting parity so much, I guess they are accomplishing their goal. To make it as hard as possible for the champs to three-peat. Is it supposed to work this way?Chris Marks

I know this whole "The league is against us" argument is popular, but do you really believe it? The schedule of opponents is set years in advance. Then the TV networks and the league get together to set up all the prime time and national games. After that it's really just a case of putting the rest of the schedules into a computer and figuring out a way to get the rest of the games played within the limitations of a 17-week regular season. The schedule is tough, get over it! Would you rather play four of your final six games on the road against four playoff teams as your team tries to roll toward the postseason? I didn't think so. As Belichick would say, "It is what it is."
Andy Hart

OK, so I'm not overly worried about one loss, and realize that even our Patriots can have a bad game once in a while. I'm also totally on board with the rest of the free-thinking world, realizing that Tom Brady is the best quarterback for our team - period. My question, though, is: when Tom is having a really bad day, like today, why not give another quarterback a chance? I thought that TB's accuracy was off most of the game - often due to pressure, but many times not so. And by the third quarter he looked downright frazzled at times. In Bill I trust, so I'm not trying to suggest that I have some superior coaching insight or anything, I'm just curious as to why coaches in general tend to leave their starting QB in even when they're having an off day...especially when our backup is such a dramatic change of pace to a defense. Thanks! You guys got me through the off-season (again) and I love reading your column every chance I get!!Andrew Miskavage

Two weeks into his second stint in a New England uniform and fans are already calling for Doug Flutie to get his shot. I knew it would happen sooner or later with his living-legend status in this area, but I can't believe it only took two weeks. Starting quarterbacks are generally the starters because they are clearly the better player, period. Even if they struggle, they could come out of it at any time and lead their team to victory, as Brady has done countless times. Flutie is here in case Brady gets hurt. That's it. You play to win the game (thanks, Herm Edwards) until the final whistle and that means keeping your best players on the field for as long as you can.
Andy Hart

I dare you to publish my remarks. After the loss to Panthers, Coach Belichick said: "We have to play better. We have to coach better." I agree, but I will add -- it will not be enough -- you have to staff better. This is a third and critical component. Pats lost three starts - Andruzzi, Law, Bruschi, and two top league coordinators. Were they replaced? No adequately. So no matter how hard they try - they will not make it to SP. And with their schedule, they may not even make it to playoffs. The team had the chance to bring the right players in, but failed to do so. Let's name names: Scott Pioli and Coach Belichick failed to staff this team to compete for SP this year. The responsibility starts and stops with them. The season will show if staffing is the issue. Thanks!
Ed T.

Ask and you shall receive. If you want to overreact to something and post your thoughts in a public forum, it's not up to me to try and protect you. Let's let Patriot Nation and our Ask PFW readers have their way with you. Good Luck!
Andy Hart

With Ty Poole, and Chad Scott, out of the defensive backfield this last past week, I thought that we did a great job on defensive only giving up 154 yards passing, and only 104 yards rushing total. Everyone was scared about the defense, but it looks like the offence and special teams are the ones that let the team down. With the big punt return from Chris Gamble (looked like a nice block in the back that wasn't called), and only having 39 rushing yards total and also turning the ball over 3 times didn't help. I am looking forward to the game this weekend, I think we can beat the Steelers, they haven't faced anyone yet, I have already been hearing the trash talk from the Steeler fans, what a shock, that is what they do best. So Go Pats, do what you guys did to them in the playoffs last year. Don't Worry Fans it is only 2 games into the season look at the Ravens and the Bolts they are both 0-2. Who would have seen that?Big John Cavallo

A calm response to a New England sports team losing? Who is this guy? Clearly he doesn't know how New England sports fans are supposed to react. Level headedness will take him nowhere in Patriots nation.
Andy Hart

I don't understand, after watching the Carolina game, why the Patriots seem to have abandoned the run this year. They have a 1,600-yard rusher in Corey Dillon, yet Sunday Brady dropped back again and again, so by the time the fourth quarter came, the play action fooled nobody. Brady was harassed all day (and frankly was not that sharp when he wasn't) because the Panthers knew what was coming after the first quarter. You cannot win in the NFL with a 44/16 pass/run ratio. When Dillon finally broke a 14-yard run, they never gave it to him again. Is this the result of Brady calling some of his own plays? Maybe he thinks he can do it all? Also, when they do run, it seems to be the same "Dillon to the outside" play every call. Are they missing Weis? Why not stick to the formula that has made them so successful?Jay Wyatt
Deerfield, N.H.

First off, Brady is not calling his own plays. Things are being done in a similar way as they have always been done, just without Weis. Second, the team didn't go away from the run. It was forced that way by a physical Panthers defense. Whether it's Dillon, the offensive line play, the rotating on the line, or a combination of all those things, the New England ground game has struggled over the first two weeks and Brady has had to try to carry the team through the passing game. It certainly isn't by design and isn't something the players or coaches are happy about. They are working hard to fix it, but will face another tough challenge against a strong Pittsburgh defensive front this Sunday. They certainly aren't trying to play as poorly as they have on the ground, but as the old saying goes, the other team gets paid too.
Andy Hart

Where does Jim Nance rate on the all time Patriots rushing total list? He went to my high school in Pennsylvania and still holds the school record for all time yards per carry at over 10 yards. Thanks!
Michael McGinnis

Nance (1965-71) ranks second on the Patriots all-time rushing list with 5,323 yards on 1,323 carries (4.0 avg.). Sam Cunningham is New England's all-time leading rusher with 5,453 yards. Nance is the team's all-time leader with 45 rushing touchdowns.
Andy Hart

I read somewhere that the team plays certain songs prior or near the time they hit the field before a game. One was Crazy Train by Ozzie Osborne, what other songs are played for the team as they hit the turf at the Razor?Dick Demers

The songs/artists played for the Patriots with regularity at Gillette Stadium are Carmina Burana, Crazy Train (Ozzy), Thunderstruck (AD/DC), For Those About to Rock (AC/DC) and Machinehead (Bush).
Andy Hart

I want to urge every single Pats fan who attends the games to step up for their team and bring back some of that ol' Foxboro Stadium feeling. I agree with what was written [last] week - we're way too quiet. I had barely recovered from a stomach virus to get to that game and I left all my energy in the seat when I left, but I was ashamed that I couldn't have been more rowdy. We need more intensity on every down. I have the pleasure of sitting in the section mentioned (119) and seeing shirtless guy every game acting like a man possessed. Our section does all right, but we could be better. Having seen many seasons, we were by far our worst the year after our first Super Bowl. Last year was good, and the energy level Thursday night was at times decent. We need to take it up a notch. This team could be on the verge of making history. Do you want to tell your grandkids that you saw the best team in football history and sat back in your seat with your cheese fries and didn't get off your butt to give them more of a home field advantage??? Come on, now. Let's get rowdy! ALL ABOARD?!?
Rabid PatsFan

Reading Jason's comment about the fans leaving early/not making enough noise I was glad to hear I'm not the only one that was feeling this way. I was very disappointed by the amount of people who left early in Thursday's game. I know it's a Thursday night and the majority of people have to go to work the next morning but come on, it's opening night and the same night that they unveiled the banner. I'd say more than half the stadium was gone before the game was even "locked up." I'm glad Brady said something about this, hopefully it will act as a wakeup call for the spoiled fans out there. If you don't want to stay the whole game and root on the best team in sports, give the tickets to somebody who does.Tim

I want to comment on a question brought up last time about fans and noise. I am an eleven-year season ticket holder. I sit in the front row of section 224. Every year we have to listen to people behind us to telling us to sit down. We go through it almost every game every year. If people want to sit down and be quiet they should stay home. STAND UP AND MAKE SOME NOISE !!!!
Mark Veillette

I just wanted to include these emails this week because the issue of the fans and noise at Gillette seems to be a hot-button topic. Patriots fans got a good look at what a loud, energetic home crowd in Charlotte could do for a team on Sunday. Maybe that'll be the example and inspiration needed to bring a better home field advantage to Foxboro in the coming weeks.
Andy Hart

Can I clarify something for you that comes up here a lot? Many people ask about the music played at the stadium prior to games. You tell them it's Carmina Burana. That's not exactly accurate -- that's like asking what was that Beatles song I heard, and getting the answer "The White Album". Carmina Burana is a series of songs, which I am guessing total over 45 minutes.Mike Mammay

Mike you are right. Not surprisingly you are the first to point out our lack of knowledge when it comes to classical music. I checked on your info, according to someone who'd know (definitely not me) Carmina Burana is a symphony made up of a number of different musical pieces. TECHNICALLY, the music played at Gillette for the Patriots is "O Fortuna" which is the first sounds of the disc or the introduction to Carmina Burana
Andy Hart

Hi fellas, I have a serious problem I need your help with. I'm a transplanted New Englander living in Philadelphia. In the past, when the Pats weren't televised locally, I've always been able to go out to bars with Sunday Ticket and enjoy the game. I think Super Bowl XXXIX has put an end to those days: folks in Philly are going to be bitter about that game for years. Do any of you at PFW, or do any readers, know of a safe haven for Patriots fans in Philadelphia? Please feel free to share my email with anyone who responds. Thanks guys, and keep up the great work.Peter Fritz

Can anyone in Philly help Peter out? Let's go PFW extended family. Let's make sure there is a place in every major city where Patriots fans can go to watch and enjoy every game in safe, comfortable environment.
Andy Hart

So much is made of the 3-4 defense the Patriots have played the past two seasons, and switch to the 4-3 during the season opener vs. the Raiders on Thursday. You guys are football gurus, do you think it is a big difference in the way the season will play out whether they play more 3-4 or 4-3? If they play 4-3 you see more Jarvis Green (as the fourth down lineman) and if they play the 3-4 more Monty Beisel and Chad Brown.Dan Isenbarger

I don't really think it will make a big difference. I believe the team will keep, for the most part, with the base 3-4 front more often than not. In the end, though, what really matters is whether the guys on the field are performing up to the high expectations the team has set for itself over the last few years. Either way, though, the team will play similar two-gap techniques up front. Belichick and the players generally down play the differences in the 3-4 vs. 4-3 for this team, and I'll take them at their word.
Andy Hart

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