Slow starts killing the Patriots

Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

When the New England Patriots trudged to the locker room for halftime in San Diego, it was blatantly apparent they had missed several opportunities to take control of the game.

Tom Brady & Co. took the ball on their first drive pinned with their backs against the wall at their own 7 yard line. They proceeded to shove the ball down the Chargers throat and 13 plays later with a 1st-and-Goal from the 10, Brady handed off to LaGarrette Blount for a 9 yard gain. Three plays later, the Pats were settling for a field goal. Things didn't improve from there as their second drive ended as quickly as it began when a 3rd-and-3 resulted in a Brandon Lafell fumble.

The first half was ugly for the Patriots offense as Brady pointed out post game, "We didn't necessarily play as well as we could have in the first half."  Their play resulted in one touchdown on four red zone attempts and they had, as Bill Belichick astutely pointed out, "Turned the ball over twice."

It has been the story of the Patriots struggles in their road losses this season. In fact, they've failed to find the end zone in the first quarter of three separate road games, resulting in losses in two of those games.

For the better part of the second half, it looked like lack of execution would come back to bite the Patriots yet again as they continued to trail until a fourth quarter field goal put them ahead for good.

As the playoffs get closer and games begin to tighten, the Patriots need for home field advantage grows more obvious. They can't afford to fall behind on the road in the playoffs and hope that the defense can keep them in the game like they did today.

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