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BOSTON (CBS) – While many are playing “Monday Morning Cornerback” in Boston, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is sticking by one his young defensive backs.
In the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 34-31 loss to the Buffalo Bills, Patriots corner Devin McCourty was faced with a tough decision: tackle Bills running back Fred Jackson at the one-yard line, or let him score and give the Patriots offense a chance to march down the field and tie the game.
On 38-yard catch-and-run by Jackson, McCourty went for the ball carrier and brought him down before he crossed the goal-line. With 1:43 left on the clock, and the Patriots only possessing one timeout, Buffalo was able to run out the clock and kick the game-winning field goal as time expired.
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Still, Belichick will not second-guess his player.
“I think the way the play happened, that Devin did what he instinctively would do. I wouldn’t second-guess him on that,” said Belichick on Monday.
“He was the outside guy, he came underneath [and] he caught the ball on a short pass,” he said of Jackson on the play. “We had two guys converging on him, he split us. Devin made a good play to run him down. We just didn’t play well enough, obviously.”
That was just one of many plays that came into question as the Patriots left the field 2-1 on the season after suffering their first loss to Buffalo since 2003.
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With the Bills mounting their comeback in the third quarter, the Patriots were caught out of position and left tight end Scott Chandler wide-open in the endzone. As linebacker Rob Ninkovich protected against a Ryan Fitzpatrick scramble, Jerod Mayo got caught biting receiver Donald Jones.
That left Chandler alone in the endzone for a three yard score. 21-17 Patriots after 17 unanswered by the Bills.
“We obviously blew it,” said Belichick of the play. “[He] should have been covered, should have been covered. Bad coaching, bad playing. It was just bad.”
There were bad penalties, dropped passes and four interceptions thrown by the reigning NFL MVP. There were some bright spots for the Patriots, as Wes Welker had a record-breaking day and tight end Rob Gronkowski continued to shine, but when the game clock hit zero, it was just a bad day in Buffalo.
“I think there were a lot of positive things in the game; there just weren’t enough, that’s all,” said Belichick. “There are too many negative things. In the end, that overrode them. We made our share of plays. [It was] certainly a competitive game, but they made more than we did.”
“We have to make plays. The game came down to us on the defensive side of the ball, and we just didn’t make the plays that were needed to win the game,” said linebacker Jerod Mayo on Monday. “We just have to make the plays.”
“It’s a situation where we have to reflect and learn from it; watch the film and learn from the mistakes, get back out there and get better,” said safety Josh Barrett.
“We have a short-term memory whether it’s a win or loss,” said Mayo. “A lot of it (can be fixed); in every phase of the game. I think that’s what the coach did today, went through the corrections and hopefully it gets better.”