FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Cam Newton didn’t make any excuses leading up to Sunday’s game. If anything, he was honest saying, “I just haven’t been good” following a dismal performance against the Denver Broncos. The quarterback went on to say that his unit’s “excuse basket is running real low” after the team gained two offensive linemen back and had a full week of practice for the first time in three weeks.
As it turns out, a healthier offensive line and ample preparation time did nothing to improve Newton’s performance or this struggling Patriots offense.
On Sunday evening, the Patriots hit a low point in this post-Tom Brady era as Newton was erratic, inaccurate and unproductive before being benched for backup Jarrett Stidham in the fourth quarter. Newton went 9-of-15 passing for 98 yards with three interceptions and a 39.7 quarterback rating in this troubling 33-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the largest margin of defeat in a home loss during the Bill Belichick era. Stidham finished 6-of-10 for 64 yards to go with an interception.
The Patriots fell to 2-4 for the first time since the 2000 season. This loss amplified a few big problems in New England – the Patriots look like a team with a lack of talent on both sides of the ball.
Not much went right for the Patriots. On offense, they were dreadful. On defense, they were gashed by 49ers running back Jeff Wilson, who ran for 112 yards and scored three times. Wilson ran for 110 yards during the 2019 season. Meanwhile, Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t perfect, but he was good enough to beat his former team in his return to Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots fell into a 7-0 hole early as the 49ers scored on their opening drive, thanks to Wilson’s 3-yard touchdown run. It looked like the Patriots defense might make this competitive as Devin McCourty easily picked off Garoppolo at 2:41 of the first quarter. The turnover helped the Patriots close the gap to 7-3. The Patriots offense was aided by a roughing-the-passer penalty, which set up Nick Folk’s 40-yard field goal at 14:56 of the second quarter.
The 49ers went up 10-3 on the next series following a Robbie Gould 41-yard field goal at 9:00 of the second quarter. Little did anyone know that, that score put the Patriots offense out of reach.
Newton started the next drive with an interception at 8:55 of the second quarter. The Patriots quarterback tried to hit Jakobi Meyers, but the receiver was double-covered and 49ers linebacker Fred Warner came away with the easy interception.
Newton’s mistake cost the Patriots six points as the 49ers took a 16-3 lead as Kyle Juszczyk scored on a 4-yard touchdown at 6:23 of the second quarter. Newton didn’t look much better in the next series. The Patriots went three-and-out as Newton’s pass attempt on third down hit the ground and bounced in front of his intended target, Damiere Byrd.
The Patriots defense, meanwhile, still couldn’t stop the 49ers, who took a 23-3 lead before the half thanks to a 16-yard run by Wilson.
Newton’s bad day continued. The Patriots quarterback was intercepted for the second time on the next series. This time, Newton tried to hit Meyers on a deep ball. Meyers, however, was double-covered and the pass wasn’t close as 49ers cornerback Emmanuel Moseley came away with the easy interception.
Newton finished 4-of-8 for 30 yards with two interceptions and a 19.8 quarterback rating in the first half. The Patriots went into the locker room with 59 total yards compared to 301 by the 49ers. San Francisco also had more first downs (18) than the Patriots had offensive plays (16) in the first two quarters. The Patriots offense had the ball for 7:30 compared to 22:30 by the 49ers in that dismal first half.
The Patriots offense picked up the tempo and started the second half with another Folk field goal, a 41-yarder at 10:48 of the third quarter
The offense looked a little better out of the half, but the defense certainly didn’t. The 49ers extended their lead to 30-6 following Wilson’s third rushing touchdown of the contest at 7:32 of the third quarter.
Newton was intercepted for the third time on the following drive. The quarterback completed three of four passes, including two for first downs, but his turnover came on another inaccurate pass. At 4:56 of the third, Newton tried to hit Julian Edelman, but the ball was well behind the receiver. Edelman attempted to get a hand on it and the ball popped up into the air and was easily intercepted by 49ers cornerback Jamar Taylor.
Stidham came on the field to replace Newton at 13:20 of the fourth quarter. The results weren’t much better as this drive ended with a Stidham interception, by Taylor, with 9:28 left.