The New England Patriots have one of the NFL’s best short-yardage weapons in quarterback Cam Newton. So, facing first-and-goal from the Seattle Seahawks’ 1-yard line with three seconds remaining in Sunday’s primetime matchup, New England tried to play to one of its biggest strengths.
Newton was stopped short and the Patriots lost 35-30.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has been criticized for being too predictable by running Newton in a power scheme in a short-yardage situation for the fourth time that game.
Newton converted with two touchdowns and a first down on three runs out of a 14 personnel formation, sharing the field with fullback Jakob Johnson, tight ends Ryan Izzo and Devin Asiasi and seven offensive linemen. The Patriots also scored another touchdown in that package when Newton floated a 1-yard touchdown pass to Johnson. New England converted with first downs in its only snaps using the 14 personnel package in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins.
The Patriots were 6-of-6 using the formation heading into the final play. It seemed automatic.
“At the end of the day, my responsibility is to prepare our group to be able to execute and be successful in those types of situations and/or to have a call that assists us in gaining some success in those situations,” McDaniels said Tuesday morning. “So, that’s my responsibility. And I’m accountable for the fact that we didn’t score there at the end, and I need to do a better job of being able to help our guys finish in that situation.
“We have used that formation multiple times in multiple different games here this year. We’ve run multiple different plays from it, which is — it’s it’s an element of — there’s misdirection, there’s some straightforward stuff to it. You saw us throw past to (Jakob Johnson) out of it. So, there’s different things that we can do and that we have done. And at the end of the day, you have to make a choice there.”
The Patriots strayed from the short-yardage grouping on a two-point attempt earlier in the game, using an 11 personnel package with a running back, three wide receivers and a tight end, but Newton was tackled short of the end zone by Seahawks safety Jamal Adams.
“In either case, you can choose to spread them out, you can choose to keep it in tight,” McDaniels said. “It’s my responsibility to help us get in the end zone there and make the right call. And I think Seattle should get a lot of credit. They did a great job on that play. They made a great play at the end of the game to help their team win, and they deserve a lot of credit. But at the end of the day, I’m accountable for that. And I’ll try to do better as we move forward.”
McDaniels probably was going to be second-guessed as long as the Patriots failed to convert from the 1-yard line whether they ran with Newton, handed off or threw the ball. The Patriots used what had been a guarantee through two games and came up short.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images