Patriots hoping for win before bye week
FOXBOROUGH, MASS. (AP)
The New England Patriots have one major mission before their bye week.
Go to London and bring back a win.
That would be a fine souvenir of the first half of the season and, they
hope, a momentum booster for a team that has been inconsistent on
offense and generous on defense.
''It would feel really good for that two-week stretch,'' quarterback
Tom Brady said on Wednesday.
The Patriots leave on a red-eye flight Thursday night for Sunday's game
with the St. Louis Rams after squeaking by the New York Jets 29-26 in
overtime after losing to the Seattle Seahawks 24-23 when they
squandered a 23-10 lead in the fourth quarter.
A win would give the Patriots a 5-3 record and undisputed possession of
first place in the AFC East, the same record they had midway through
last season when they finished at 13-3 and lost the Super Bowl 21-17 on
a last-minute touchdown by the New York Giants.
The Patriots historically have improved over the second half of the
season, especially the last two seasons when they went 16-0. That
should give them confidence once they return from the bye.
''It does,'' wide receiver Deion Branch said. ''We wish we'd have
played a lot better the first half. We don't want to go out and go 4-4
and then try to win the last eight games.''
Brady would love to see the Patriots string some wins together. Their
only winning streak this season lasted just two games.
''Part of the mental toughness is putting what happened (behind) and
moving forward to next week without wasting any time or energy spent
thinking about last week,'' he said. ''That's how you string wins
together. That's why you don't win one, lose one, win one, lose one,
because at the end of the day, you're mediocre and you're watching all
the good teams play.
''The good teams win, win, win, win, win and if you lose you (still
have to) win, win, win, win. That's just how it is.''
In Bill Belichick's previous 12 years as coach of the Patriots, they
were 8-4 in the week preceding their bye, although Brady has won his
last five. They're 9-3 in their first game back, though they lost two
straight games after the bye last year.
A loss to the Rams (3-4) could prompt Belichick to give the team a bit
more work in their two weeks before returning on Nov. 11 for a home
game against the Buffalo Bills.
''It's never good going in with a loss, especially with the coach we
have,'' tight end Aaron Hernandez said, ''but I'm sure we'll be fine.
And as long as we follow the game plan, work hard and play Patriot
football, we should be fine.''
Part of Patriot football is piling up yardage. Last Sunday, they tied
the NFL record of 16 consecutive regular-season games with at least 350
yards, set by the Rams in 1999-2000.
''You don't call plays that aren't designed to gain significant
yards,'' Brady said. ''If you execute them the right way, they're
productive and there aren't a lot of negative plays. I think last week
we had 80 plays. There were only two negative plays out of 80, which is
pretty good. So, if you're not going backwards and killing yourself
with penalties and turnovers and really not beating yourself, you can
usually put yourself in a good position to win the game.
''Gaining yards is certainly important, but scoring points is more
The Patriots gained 387 yards against the Arizona Cardinals, 396
against the Baltimore Ravens and 475 against the Seattle Seahawks - and
lost to all of them. They lead the NFL with 436.1 yards per game after
finishing second with 428 last year.
''We have a good quarterback and a lot of good players,'' Hernandez
said. ''You could get the ball out to a lot of different players and as
long as some of them come to play, then we're going to have a lot of
''We have enough players, enough athletes and enough dominant players
to win every game.''
To do that Sunday, they'll have to overcome the 10th-rated defense in
the NFL with an aggressive attitude instilled by new coach Jeff Fisher.
''The trip will be fun with a victory,'' Branch said. ''We've had five
road games the first eight. So I think it would be good for us to go
out here and play our best football, come back, enjoy this bye week and
get ready to come back for the last stretch of the season.''
NOTES: Brady appeared surprised when told
that the team's game notes said he was one of several Patriots, along
with Belichick, scheduled to appear Saturday at the NFL's fan fest at
Trafalgar Square. ''We're not doin' that,'' Brady said ''Is that what
it says? Don't believe everything you read. Not me. Have fun, though.''
... Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe was born in Birmingham, England, and
came to the United States as an infant. ''I didn't stay too long, so I
don't remember too much.'' ... Devin McCourty was named AFC special
teams player of the week for his 104-yard kickoff return for a
touchdown. He also lost a fumble that led to the Jets' go-ahead field
goal with 1:37 left in regulation last Sunday.
New England is having trouble finishing drives, leading to close losses and ultimately more L's than…