While he may not be as dominant as he was early in his career, Josh Gordon nevertheless has proven to be one of the New England Patriots’ best receivers since joining the team in September.
So why, then, was Gordon subbed out for Cordarrelle Patterson for the final play of the Patriots’ 17-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers?
Tom Brady was asked that very question Monday morning during his weekly appearance on WEEI’s “Mut & Callahan” show. And, well, the Patriots quarterback seemed just as confused as everyone else.
“I don’t think there’s anything in particular,” Brady said of the play, which came on 4th-and-15 from the Pittsburgh 20-yard line with 20 seconds left “We were running a lot of downfield throws, and Josh is kind of our downfield receiver, so maybe they subbed him at the last minute.
“I’m not sure.”
Ultimately, the absence of Gordon is just one of a few things that went wrong on the Patriots’ final offensive snap at Heinz Field.
Perhaps more detrimental was the design of the play, which featured each receiver running a vertical toward the end zone. Sure, the Patriots had zero timeouts and would’ve had to rush to clock the ball, but a comeback route to the first-down marker seems like a more high-percentage play.
Furthermore, Brady — once again — felt pressure and bailed out early, falling toward the sideline as he uncorked a prayer toward the end zone. He certainly had enough time to stand firm in the pocket and deliver a more accurate pass, but pocket jitters have become the norm for the 41-year-old in the second half of the season.
As for Gordon, it’s hard to argue he doesn’t have a better chance of catching a jump-ball than Patterson, who really is an average receiver, at best. But given the design of the play and the way it unfolded, his presence probably wouldn’t have made a difference, anyway.
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