Patriots Can’t Handle Referees, Panthers, or Newton on Monday Night

The New England Patriots went into Monday night’s match-up vs. the Carolina Panthers with a 7-2 record and a healthy lead in the AFC East.  Carolina, with 5 straight wins, came off a huge victory in San Francisco to stay within a game of New Orleans in the NFC South.

New England’s defense, usually with a "bend but don’t break" mentality, couldn't keep Cam Newton, Steve Smith, and the Panthers offense OFF the field and OUT of the end zone.  Aqib Talib, in his first game back after injury, had a hard time keeping his “cool", committing a 15-yard personal foul after getting burned for 42 yards by Smith, and needed to be separated by players and referees when a confrontation turned nasty after the whistle.

[caption id="attachment_1350" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Aqib Talib and Steve Smith have "words""][/caption]

Kudos to the Carolina defensive squad.  Seriously, they played well, getting pressure on Tom Brady and seriously limiting New England's offense. Luke Kuechley, a second-year linebacker out of Boston College, was easily one of the best defensive players on the Panthers squad.  He played smart, played hard, and seemed to be in on every snap.  Keuchley, clearly a fan favorite (you might have heard the fans yelling his signature "Koooo"), rarely takes a play off.

[caption id="attachment_1360" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Luke Kuechley"][/caption]

If there's a positive note coming off of that loss, it was New England’s defense. Brandon Spikes, Rob Ninkovich, and Chandler Jones each had a respectable performance.  In the end though, Newton and the Panthers offense racked up the yards when it counted and put up 24 points, which proved to be too much for the battered Patriots defense.

When it was all said and done, New England came up short on a controversial non-pass interference call in the end zone as time expired.  It was an extremely frustrating end to week 11 of the NFL season for Patriots fans.  New England must go home and prepare for Denver’s powerful offense on a shortened week.

[caption id="attachment_1342" align="aligncenter" width="639" caption="Controversial non-pass interference call to end the game"][/caption]

Bottom Line:  Injuries to New England’s defense are starting to catch up with them more then ever.  How much longer can the Patriots win without key defensive players like Vince Wilfork and Jarod Mayo?  Only time will tell…  All we can do now is hope that New England’s defense puts up respectable performances with the personnel they field, while Brady and the offense score... and score a lot!

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