The Patriots started the 2015 season 10-0, and fans were wondering if the team could run the table. Instead, they went 3-5 (including the playoffs) the rest of the way.
Here’s a look at what went wrong.
1. Nate Solder’s torn biceps — A freak injury in Week 4 cost the Patriots their top offensive lineman and was the catalyst for an inconsistent, injury-plagued season from the guys up front.
2. Julian Edelman’s broken foot — The Patriots eked out a Week 10 win against the Giants, but lost their offensive spark plug for the final seven games of the regular season. The Patriots went 3-4 without him and lost the No. 1 AFC seed.
3. Harper’s muff — Not to put too much on the rookie’s blunder, but the season did change dramatically for the worse following Chris Harper’s muffed punt with the Patriots leading the Broncos, 21-7, in the fourth quarter of their Week 12 game.
4. Chip Kelly’s revenge — A rare home loss against a middling Eagles team was a troubling sign that the Patriots didn’t totally have their heads in the game. The Patriots got too cute with the onside drop-kick, had two major special teams breakdowns, and trailed, 35-14, in the fourth quarter.
5. Dolphins debacle — Running the ball 20 times in the first half might be a smart way to manage a game with a shorthanded roster. It might be a good way to work on your run blocking and protect your quarterback. But it’s not the best way for the Patriots to win a game, and it cost them home-field advantage in the postseason.