Patriots eager to leave loss behind
NEW ORLEANS - Two weeks ago, when the Patriots were showered in disappointment after a close loss to the Indianapolis Colts, the players prescribed Wednesday as the remedy.
The middle of the week is the start of preparation for the next opponent, and the look ahead becomes the focus. Today, the Patriots welcome another Wednesday distraction.
In front of a “Monday Night Football’’ audience, the Patriots were exposed in a 38-17 loss to the undefeated New Orleans Saints. Their offense was out of synch and their defense was left scrambling in their fourth road loss of the season, their most since 2002.
So with all of the troubles aired out on Monday, the Patriots look ahead to another road game, this time at AFC East rival Miami.
“You lose games and you have to find ways to get motivated again and get energized,’’ said quarterback Tom Brady. “It’s a short week and you have to understand the opponent we’ll be facing. They have a lot to play for, we certainly have a lot to play for; 8-4 is certainly a lot better than 7-4. We’ve got to find a way to get a win this week.’’
Back-to-back losses aren’t a frequent occurrence for the Patriots. The last time it happened was in 2006, against the Colts and Jets. Before that, you have to scroll back to 2002, when the Patriots had a four-game losing streak in the middle of the season and finished 9-7.
After the Colts took advantage of a failed fourth-down attempt to win three weeks ago, the Patriots came back to defeat the Jets, 31-14. Now they will be looking for a similar result on Sunday.
“That’s the good thing about football - once the game is over, you’ve got 24 hours to reflect back and collect your thoughts,’’ Patriots receiver Randy Moss said. “Once Wednesday comes, it’s another week. So a game like this, it really hurts. But once Wednesday comes, we’re focusing on the Dolphins and putting this one behind us. For right now, it hurts.’’
The attention now is on the final five games of the season. Along with wins, the Patriots may be looking to gain confidence after the Saints ripped through them. There wasn’t much the Patriots could point to as a positive. Saints quarterback Drew Brees completed 18 of 23 passes for 371 yards and five touchdowns, compiling a perfect passer rating for the game.
Defensively, there were blown coverages that allowed the Saints to put on an offensive show reminiscent of the 2007 Patriots.
“They do what they want to do, and they do it well,’’ Patriots defensive lineman Mike Wright said. “We just came up short. Everyone in this locker room knows we can play a lot better than we did out there, but [the Saints] are a real good team.’’
It was frustrating, but the Patriots have to move forward, nose tackle Vince Wilfork said.
“Tough one for us, but at the same time, if we continue to play like that, we will be having this feeling quite often,’’ Wilfork said. “They came out and controlled the game from the first snap and took control of it and we couldn’t do nothing with it.
“They’re a real good football team. Probably one of the best we’ve played. I don’t think we could have played any worse than we did.’’
Things weren’t much better on the offensive side. Brady’s streak of 300-yard passing games ended at five as he completed 21 of 36 passes for 237 yards and threw two interceptions. In the final minutes of the game, Brady was on the sideline while rookie Brian Hoyer mopped up.
The only answer for the Patriots this week is to simply be better, coach Bill Belichick said.
“To be competitive against a team like this, we’ve got to do a better job,’’ Belichick said. “We’ve got to coach better, play better. We’ve got to be better at everything - players, assistant coaches, we’ve all got to do a better job than this.’’
Monique Walker can be reached at email@example.com.