BOSTON (CBS) – Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense have had their fair share of struggles early this season, but for the first time in a long time, they find themselves having issues inside the red zone.

Brady and company have scored just four touchdowns in 13 trips inside 20-yard-line, ranking last in the NFL. It’s an issue that Brady acknowledged on Wednesday as the Patriots prepare to face the Atlanta Falcons this weekend.

“We’ve been practicing it quite a bit. We’ve definitely left some points on the board, just poor execution. I’ve been one of the main culprits. Hopefully I try to improve that,” Brady said. “You have to get down there and score points. Especially when you play good teams, you can’t leave points out there. Like last week, we had a great opportunity for seven points. Not only did we not get seven, we didn’t get any. You have to be able to capitalize on scoring opportunities.”

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Brady was talking about his third quarter interception against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. The Patriots were looking to build on a 17-3 lead when Brady forced a pass into double coverage, and it ended up in the hands of Tampa safety Mark Barron.

Brady was asked if having three young receivers on offense had played in to those struggles, but said since he is the one throwing the ball, the blame falls on him.

“I think throwing an interception right to a strong safety last week doesn’t help. Especially two plays before, I had a wide open guy,” he said. “I think plays like that are more the problem. I have to a good job finding the open guys, guys that are running free and then hit them. That will help our red zone offense more than anything. ”

It doesn’t help that Brady has been without tight end Rob Gronkowski, one of the biggest and best targets in the end zone. It’s unclear if Gronkowski will make his long-awaited return on Sunday, and when he does get back Brady will certainly welcome his presence in that area.

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But Gronk hasn’t been out there, and Brady is not going to use that as an excuse for the Patriots’ inability to score touchdowns inside the red zone.

“Hopefully at some point when he’s back, he can play a role. When he’s not out there, look, we have to count on the other guys to do it. I know we haven’t been great in the red area this year, but it’s no excuse,” he said. “The guys that are out there are plenty capable, I’m plenty capable of getting the ball into tight spots and making the plays. We have to run the ball in. if they’re taking away the run, we have to throw the ball in; critical plays on third down in the red area that are four point plays typically. We can be a better red area team than we’ve been, we just have to go out and execute better.”


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