Patriots notebook

Time of the essence

Players enjoyed being together

By Albert R. Breer
Globe Staff / October 27, 2009

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LONDON - The normal NFL road trip looks like this: Fly out Saturday, meet Saturday night, eat, sleep, meet Sunday morning, eat again, bus to stadium, play, fly home.

So if there’s one ancillary benefit the Patriots might reap from playing in London, they believe it’s all the time they spent around one another, having left for Europe Thursday afternoon, and returning late yesterday.

“We don’t as football players often get to spend as much time together as we had all day Thursday, all day Friday, all day Saturday, all day Sunday, pretty much all day Monday,’’ quarterback Tom Brady said. “Most of the time, you leave on a Saturday morning, you’re together on a Saturday night, you play Sunday, and you’re home.

“We all went out to dinner on Friday night, which you don’t get a chance to do too often. Spending 10 meals together, and all sitting on the plane together. We had a great flight over. I think just that experience for all of us and getting to know each other will serve us well down the road.’’

Brady said it was especially helpful to get to know some of his newer teammates better, with all the roster turnover since last season.

But the experience also provided some perspective for these American celebrities. Receiver Wes Welker said when he, Brady, and other Patriots went out for that dinner, the restaurant staff mistook them for a “boy band.’’

“That was pretty funny,’’ Welker said. “We had two offensive linemen with us. So I don’t where they got that from.’’

Zone of his own
The perception remains that New England needs more playmaking on defense.

True? Yes, and no. Sunday’s win marked the 15th straight game the Patriots have notched a takeaway, the longest such streak in the NFL. But as for the really big plays, Brandon Meriweather’s interception returned for a score was the club’s first such touchdown in almost two years - Eugene Wilson was last to register one, Dec. 16, 2007.

And it’s the fruition, finally, of something Bill Belichick and Co. have been emphasizing.

“We’ve been stressing that since camp - coach always said whenever you get the ball, you want to put it in the end zone,’’ Meriweather said. “The less the offense has to score, the better.’’

Excuses are just noise
The Patriots had 10 penalties, nine on offense. And five of those came before the snap, four of which were false starts. Crowd noise might’ve been a problem at Wembley Stadium, but Belichick wasn’t buying that as an excuse. “We play in noisy stadiums every week,’’ he said. “We’ve just got to execute that better. We’re going to have to silent count every time we’re on the road.’’ . . . The Patriots have won 17 straight regular-season games against NFC opponents, including two this season, against the Falcons and Buccaneers. Up next? Perhaps the stiffest test yet - a date with the unbeaten Saints inside the Superdome Nov. 30.

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