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Patriots

Ugly Start, Uglier Finish Disappoints Patriots

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Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots waits for the play to be reviewed in the first half against the Indianapolis Colts on December 4, 2011 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots waits for the play to be reviewed in the first half against the Indianapolis Colts on December 4, 2011 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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New England Patriots

BOSTON (CBS) – The New England Patriots improved to 9-3 on Sunday with a 31-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts, but after lackluster first and fourth quarters, the team knows they can do better.

“I thought we did some good things out there today, we obviously have to do a better job of finishing the game,” Belichick said after the win. “That was disappointing. But we’ll work on that; go back to work and get ready for Washington next week.”

The Colts had a 19-play, 67-yard drive that ate up over 10 minutes over the first and second quarter. The Pats limited the damage, allowing just three points on the drive. While it did not hurt in the end, the Patriots want to limit long drives, especially from an offense as poor as the Manning-less Colts.

The Patriots put their sluggish start in their rearview mirror though, with the offense scoring four straight touchdowns en route to a 31-3 lead. Even the defense was showing signs of improvement, until the fourth quarter hit.

Once the Patriots had their lead, both the offense and defense sputtered. On offense, Brady and Co. had two straight three-and-outs. On defense, they let the Colts nearly get back in it with 21 unanswered points. Colts quarterback Dan Orlovsky was able to shred the secondary in the final 15 minutes, connecting with Pierre Garcon on scores of 33 and 12 yards.

“It’s disappointing. Go back to the drawing board and continue to try to improve. We just have to finish games,” said defensive captain Jerod Mayo, who had his first career interception in the game. “We have to learn how to put two halves together; hopefully we do it next week.”

“It was a great game, but for us defensively, it was disappointing (for them) to put up 21 in a short amount of time. As a defensive player, and I’m sure I’m speaking for the rest of us, it’s just unacceptable,” defensive end Andre Carter said on WBZ-TV’s Sports Final Sunday night.

Andre Carter Talks Closing Games On Sports Final 

“You just have to put a team away. If a team scores, and ends up getting more and more momentum and more confidence, it could get ugly,” he added.

“We’re not happy with how we finished the game. We got to finish games better, especially down the stretch,” said Matthew Slater, who started at safety for New England. “It’s in all three phases, not just defensively. We’re not happy with that, and we have work to do.”

Inefficiencies in the defense have haunted the Patriots all season, but it is more recent that the offense has struggled to start games.

“We got off to kind of a slow start, but we picked it up and really got things going and were able to get a good lead. From there, we have to finish a lot better than we have in the last few weeks,” said receiver Wes Welker. “I’m sure it’s going to be a huge emphasis by coach as something we have to do.”

Highs & Lows: Not A Full Effort From Pats

While the score is all that matters in the end, the Colts had more first downs (26), passing yards (338), and rushing yards (99) than New England.

“If we don’t play four quarters, we’re not going to end up in the situation that we want to be in,” added Welker. “We have to fight on through, convert on third downs and move the ball down the field and ultimately score.”

“It’s just not executing,” receiver Deion Branch said of the first quarter struggles. “It may be one thing here, someone missing a block, missing an assignment, a mental error here and there. That stuff happens though; it’s all about how you respond the next drive.”

Burton, Reid Discuss Win On 5th Quarter 

While the Patriots were able to put puts on the board in a hurry once switching to the no-huddle, the most important thing is how they finish. And with a lackluster performance against a 0-12 team, the team is certain they’ll hear about it this week in practice.

“We played good for 45-minutes and didn’t do anything in the fourth quarter,” said Brady, who watched from the bench after the two fourth quarter three-and-outs. “We’ll hear about that tomorrow.”

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