FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — A week after apologizing for his surly demeanor in the aftermath of the Patriots’ loss to the Colts, Bill Belichick was more composed Sunday as he answered questions about what went wrong in New England’s 33-21 loss to Buffalo.
Then he got an inquiry he probably wasn’t expecting.
“Football aside, I’m doing a story about New Year’s resolutions. I was wondering if you had any you wanted to share with your fans and our readers?” a reporter asked.
“Yeah, no, not right now. Maybe next week,” Belichick deadpanned.
It’s a safe assumption the only thing he wants to change at this point is the direction his team’s season has taken over the last two weeks.
A seven-game win streak made the Patriots look like a team capable of making a deep playoff run. But they have taken significant steps backward in back-to-back losses to the Colts and Bills.
At 9-6, New England is still in good position to get back in the playoffs for the first time since Tom Brady’s departure, but it has little room for error and much to correct over the final weeks of the season.
It starts on offense, where the Patriots have averaged just 19 points and turned the ball over four times over the past two games.
Most troubling is they’ve lost the edge that contributed to an early season turnaround following a 2-4 start. But it’s not something they can’t get back, receiver Jakobi Meyers said.
“We all know what we’ve got to do. We all know what we’ve got to bring to the table at the end of the day,” he said. “It’s on each man to contribute to this family, come in, put your best foot forward, and that’s what we’ve got to do. Everybody is doing their best job. I believe in our locker room. I believe we’ve got a lot of talented players. As long as everybody comes in and is their best self, I think we’ll be all right.”
Because his team played from behind throughout the day, Belichick had to take more chances that usual on fourth down. It was one of the few areas the Patriots were productive, going 5 of 6 for the game.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The Patriots fell into a 17-7 hole largely because of their inability to sustain drives. They went three-and-out on the opening drive and finished 1 of 10 on third down. For the season, they’re converting on 41.3% of third downs, ranking 13th in the NFL.
After sitting out last week’s loss to the Colts with a hamstring injury, running back Damien Harris rushed for 103 yards and a season-high three touchdowns. It marked his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season. Since 1970, only Curtis Martin (nine in 1995) and Corey Dillion (nine in 2004) have had more than five 100-yard games in a season for the Patriots.
Rookie quarterback Mac Jones was just 14 of 32 passing for 145 yards with a pair of interceptions. His 44% completion percentage and quarterback rating (31.4) were both season lows.
“I’m still learning, obviously. I don’t think there’s any excuses,” Jones said. “If the guy is open, you’re supposed to throw it to him and he’s supposed to catch the ball. We’re supposed to move the sticks. If I can’t hit him in the hands, then he’s not going to be able to catch the ball. The accuracy needs to improve.”
There were no injuries announced for the Patriots. Defensive lineman Daniel Ekuale left just before halftime with an undisclosed issue, but returned in the second half.
25 — Number of years it had been since a team (Denver Broncos in 1995 and 1996) had won by double-digits in New England in consecutive seasons.
The Patriots catch a break this week when they host a 2-13 Jacksonville team that has little to play for and is in the throes of seven-game losing streak.
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