The Patriots came up two points short of a trip to the Super Bowl in their loss to the Broncos. There were several factors in the loss, but none bigger than the play of the Patriots offensive line. Tom Brady was hit 20 times and was constantly under pressure. Von Miller, Demarcus Ware and Derek Wolfe dominated the Patriots front throughout the game.
New England struggled to move the ball until the fourth quarter and even then they had two drives end on failed fourth down conversions. On each of those failed conversions, Brady faced pressure. Brady also faced pressure on both of his interceptions, but neither was a good decision by him. Even the patented Patriots style of throwing before the rush could arrive was not effective throughout the game because the rush was supremely fast and the Broncos secondary played a great game. The injury earlier this season to left tackle Nate Solder made a large impact in this game, with Marcus Cannon routinely getting beat by Miller and Sebastian Vollmer having some struggles against Ware.
Despite this the Patriots still nearly tied the game on a two point conversion try with 12 seconds left. It is a disappointing end to a season that had the Patriots aiming for their fifth Lombardi Trophy. New England is fortunate that many of their key players are locked up going into next season and they will be getting reinforcements returning for 2016. However, with Solder coming off injury and Vollmer not getting any younger, it would behoove the Patriots to invest in a tackle in this year’s draft.
In the end, the 2015 Patriots started out like a team that could beat anyone but injuries and a few key mistakes led to their demise. Much can be debated about the finish to their regular season and today’s game, but the overriding theme in the end of their season was the offensive line getting beat consistently.