For the New England Patriots, it’s always better to look ahead than to look back.
That’s especially the case this season. But if the Pats were to look back on last week’s 30-27 OT loss to the Jets, they’d have to look all the way back to the beginning of the third quarter, when the wheels started to fall off. A 21-10 New England lead disappeared faster than a bowl full of Halloween candy left unwatched outside your neighbor's door.
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While members of the defense have been dropping like flies, the loss can be placed on the Pats' offense. In that third quarter, Tom Brady threw a pick-six, was sacked multiple times, and posted three drives of negative yardage.
Third-quarter struggles have been common with the Patriots offense this season, which means opponents are succeeding in adjusting to them at halftime. In fact, the Patriots have yet to score more than three points in any third quarter this season. They’ve scored a total of nine points in seven third quarters, and have been outscored in five out of the seven second halves.
“We just have to do a better job period, all of us.” Bill Belichick said. “We have to coach better, we have to play better, we have to produce more than that. We always talk about it, we’ve always given it a lot of attention but we haven’t had good results and we need better results. If there was a key to put in the lock that would just magically open it up, hopefully we would have already found that. I don’t really think that’s the answer. I think it’s just a combination of things that everything needs to be better so that’s what we’ll try to do.”
The Dolphins, thought to be real AFC contenders before the start of the season at least, won’t make things any easier on Sunday. With players like defensive end Cameron Wake and linebacker Dannell Elerbe on the loose, Brady and the offensive line will need to pick it up.
But when the Pats do step out onto the field, the Jets game will be the furthest thing from their minds.
“You have a lot of confidence every week as a player that you’re going to get the job done and you’re going to be able to do what the team asks you to do,” Brady said. “I think it’s important not to ride the ups and downs of the seasons and the emotions - we won, we lost, everybody tells you you’re great, everybody tells you you suck. If you do, you’re going to have a hard time.
“You just try to believe in your process, and believe that what you’re doing is the right way to prepare.”