The New England Patriots’ first drive of their Week 7 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers was over before it even had a chance to really get started. Quarterback Tom Brady found wide receiver Chris Hogan on a short passing route which the speedy wideout should have been able to bring past the first down marker. Instead, Hogan fumbled after a crushing hit from a Steelers defender and Brady could only trot back to the sidelines.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman fumbled at the end of a punt return, as well. The Patriots now have 14 fumbles through seven games, matching the team’s entire total from the 2015 season and ranking second in the league. New England only trails the San Diego Chargers who have somehow amassed an incredible 17 fumbles, 11 of which they’ve lost.
Fortunately for the Patriots, they’ve only lost 6 of the team’s 14 fumbles on the season. Still, the team’s affinity for coughing up the football is certainly not a positive trend moving forward.
Josh McDaniels says #Patriots are setting aside extra practice time to work on ball security. "No greater determinant of success."
— Nora Princiotti (@NoraPrinciotti) October 25, 2016
The Patriots have won their last three games—all since Brady has returned under center – by double digits, so the fumbling issue has yet to rear its ugly head. However, as the team’s schedule gets tougher throughout the season and in the playoffs, holding onto the football becomes ever more critical.
"Definitely something we've done too much of. Definitely something we're looking to correct." McDaniels on fumbles, ball security.
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) October 25, 2016