Patriots defense disappoints again in 33-30 loss to Carolina


FOXBORO — Tom Brady may be a miracle worker, but he can’t play defense, too.

The Panthers beat the Patriots at the buzzer yesterday, 33-30, at Gillette Stadium, where the Pats have now lost twice in three games. And if it weren’t for Brady’s 52nd career game-winning drive last week against the Texans, they’d have an oh-fer on home soil.

“I just wish we scored more points,” Brady said to deflect blame from a defense that again failed to play its part, particularly after the offense recovered from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit.

Graham Gano kicked a 48-yard field goal as time expired to cap a frustrating day for the defense, which nearly got off the field on the final drive. However, Deatrich Wise’s third-down sack was wiped out by Stephon Gilmore’s penalty for illegal hands to Kelvin Benjamin’s face. It was the second time Gilmore was on the wrong side of that penalty in the game, and both negated third-down stops on scoring drives.

The defense also gave up five plays of at least 20 yards, surrendered 7.4 yards per play and allowed six third-down conversions on nine attempts. And while they forced two turnovers, the Patriots didn’t make the Panthers punt until their eighth possession.

“It’s bad. We’re letting the team down,” Devin McCourty said. “If we can’t play somewhat of a decent defense, it’s going to be hard to win games. Our offense played great last week and bailed us out, played great again this week and we let the team down.

“We’re putting our offense in a shootout every week. It’s almost like if they don’t get seven or three points on one drive, I’m sure they’ve got to be frustrated.”

Brady was 32-of-45 for 307 yards and two touchdowns, and he erased a 30-16 fourth-quarter deficit with back-to-back touchdown drives when he was 11-of-14 for 106 yards and a score. James White caught 10 passes for 47 yards, while Danny Amendola (six catches, 42 yards, touchdown), Chris Hogan (five catches, 60 yards, TD), Rob Gronkowski (four catches, 80 yards) and Brandin Cooks (three catches, 38 yards) were the other main targets.

Yet, a defense that entered the game ranked last in points, total yards and passing yards couldn’t make the necessary improvements against a Panthers offense that ranked 29th in scoring through three weeks. Cam Newton was 22-of-29 for 316 yards and three touchdowns for his highest passer rating (130.8) since the 2015 regular-season finale.

“We’re beating ourselves,”…



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