The Patriots’ Season of Chaos

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The New England Patriots are 10-3. They at present maintain the No. 2 seed within the A.F.C. In all chance — a 76 p.c probability, in accordance with The New York Occasions’s playoff simulator — they are going to earn a first-round bye for the 10th consecutive postseason.

And but an uneasy feeling has settled throughout New England, the place followers spoiled by the Patriots’ dynasty are dealing with three losses in 5 video games, all to division-leading A.F.C. groups powered by quarterbacks set to rule the convention when Tom Brady retires.

Or when he performs elsewhere, a risk lately broached by his father earlier than New England’s offense sputtered but once more in a loss to Kansas Metropolis, earlier than boos cascaded from the Gillette Stadium stands, earlier than the Patriots courted controversy by forgetting to tell the Bengals and the league {that a} video crew can be filming a scout as an alternative of, say, Cincinnati’s sideline.

It was simply one other chaotic week in a chaotic season that, regardless of all of it, nonetheless may outcome within the crew basking amid falling confetti on Feb. 2 in Miami Gardens, Fla. Listed below are the whiplash-inducing highs and lows of the New England Patriots’ season to this point:

Aug. 6: Three days after Brady’s 42nd birthday, and two days after he agreed to a brand new contract that makes him a free agent after the season, NBC Sports activities Boston stories that he and his spouse, the supermodel Gisele Bündchen, have put their Brookline, Mass., mansion up on the market, fueling hypothesis that this can be his remaining yr in New England.

Sept. 7: The Oakland Raiders are exasperated sufficient by Antonio Brown’s antics — lacking two practices, refusing to put on a brand new helmet, threatening to punch Normal Supervisor Mike Mayock — that they lower him. Inside hours, in swoop the Patriots, ever keen so as to add gamers whose conduct could discourage pursuit by different groups, and they comply with signal him to a one-year, $9 million deal.

Sept. 8: After unveiling their sixth championship banner, the Patriots open their title protection by destroying the Pittsburgh Steelers, 33-3, at Gillette Stadium.

Sept. 10: Brown, in a lawsuit filed in federal court docket, is accused of raping a girl whom he met whereas they have been attending faculty collectively and who later labored as his coach.

Sept. 15: The Patriots throttle the Miami Dolphins, 43-0, as Brown catches 4 passes for 56 yards and a landing.

Sept. 20: Amid the N.F.L.’s investigation into the accusations in opposition to Brown, the Patriots launch Brown, saying in an announcement: “We respect the laborious work of many individuals over the previous 11 days, however we really feel that it’s best to maneuver in a distinct course at the moment.”

Sept. 22: Hours after Brown blasts the Patriots proprietor Robert Okay. Kraft in a collection of tweets, New England overwhelms the Jets, 30-14.

Sept. 29: The Patriots overcome a meager efficiency from Brady, who completes 46.2 p.c of his passes, his lowest fee in additional than two seasons, in a 16-10 victory at Buffalo.

Oct. 2: One other essential harm befalls the Patriots per week after shedding the fullback James Develin, an integral part of their working recreation, for the season: Kicker Stephen Gostkowski, the Patriots’ franchise chief in factors and area objectives, is positioned on injured reserve with a hip harm.

Oct. 10: The Patriots permit their first landing cross of the season in a 35-14 victory in opposition to the Giants.

Oct. 21: Earlier than New England’s 33-Zero romp over the Jets — when the Patriots’ defensive stress so confuses quarterback Sam Darnold, carrying a microphone for the Monday Night time Soccer broadcast, that he says, “I’m seeing ghosts,” whereas sitting on the bench within the first half — Adam Schefter stories on ESPN’s pregame present that for Tom Brady, returning to New England subsequent season is his “least doubtless” choice.

Oct. 23: The Patriots place beginning receiver Josh Gordon on injured reserve however with the designation that they have to lower him as soon as he’s wholesome, a curious resolution by a crew missing each high quality and reliability on the place.

Oct. 27: The confluence of the Browns’ ineptitude and New England’s defensive sorcery creates Cleveland turnovers on three consecutive first-quarter performs within the Patriots’ 27-13 victory. Bettering to 8-Zero for the third time below Coach Invoice Belichick, who wins his 300th recreation, New England will increase its level differential to plus-189, tied with the 1942 Chicago Bears for the second-most by a crew’s eight video games since 1940, in accordance with Professional Soccer Reference.

Nov. 3: The Patriots are midway to an ideal common season, however they’ve but to face a quarterback the caliber of Lamar Jackson. Led by Jackson’s penetrative working and incisive passing, Baltimore scores as many touchdowns — 4 — because the Patriots’ protection had allowed since their Tremendous Bowl victory in opposition to the Rams. In dealing New England its first loss since Dec. 16, 2018, with a 37-20 rout, the Ravens affirm their candidacy as a contender within the A.F.C. and puncture the Patriots’ aura of invincibility.

Dec. 1: Even with a full complement of receivers, the Patriots’ offense features with the utility of an unlocked financial institution vault, failing to attain a landing till the closing seconds of the third quarter of Houston’s 28-22 victory. A slew of errors — N’Keal Harry’s loafing on a slant resulting in an interception, Jakobi Meyers’s miscommunication on a route — and common ineffectiveness enrage Brady, who’s captured by NBC cameras reproaching receivers on the sideline.

Dec. 6: In an interview with the Boston Herald, Tom Brady Sr. says that it’s troublesome imagining his son enjoying with one other crew however that Belichick will make that call. “No one actually is aware of,” Brady Sr. instructed the Herald. “Invoice doesn’t tip his hand. There’s simply been insinuations right here and there. That is actually type of between these two. They acquired to determine what they need.”

Dec. 8: The unfathomable occurs at Gillette Stadium: Followers boo the lackluster Patriots at halftime of an eventual 23-16 loss to Kansas Metropolis, a rematch of final yr’s A.F.C. championship recreation. For the fifth time in six video games, Brady connects on fewer than 56 p.c of his passes.

Dec. 9: Whether or not it’s hearth alarms being mysteriously pulled at visiting groups’ inns or headset malfunctions that vex opposing teaching staffs — or much more critical {rules} scandals just like the so-called Spygate and Deflategate — no crew invitations extra hypothesis into the propriety of its comportment than New England. The newest occasion surfaces publicly a day after a videographer data the sector and the Bengals’ sideline whereas attending the Bengals-Browns recreation in Cleveland ostensibly to movie a Patriots worker scouting Cincinnati upfront of Sunday’s recreation for a characteristic on the crew’s web site. In an announcement, the Patriots acknowledge that their crew “unknowingly violated” league coverage and stress that it’s “unbiased of our soccer operation,” which had no “involvement in any respect within the planning, filming or artistic choices made through the manufacturing of those options.”