BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots have suffered back-to-back December losses for just the second time of the Brady-Belichick era, causing some concern throughout New England.
The Patriots followed up their last-second loss in Miami with a complete dud in Pittsburgh this weekend, scoring just 10 points while getting flagged for a season-high 14 penalties. Their 17-10 loss to the Steelers dropped the Patriots to the No. 3 seed in the AFC, meaning if the playoffs began today, there would be no first-round by for Brady and company.
“Tough game to play, tough game for our fans. We watched it on film today and it was tough to watch,” Brady said during his Monday night interview with Westwood One’s Jim Gray. “Ten points on the road isn’t going to win many games in the NFL.”
Following that disheartening performance on Sunday, Brady said the team had some “tough conversations” in the locker room.
“Right now we are 9-5. It’s not where we hoped we’d be. It could be better, it could be worse. It is just the reality of where we are at,” he said. “We’d love to win every game, but that’s not the reality of sports. I’d say we learned from [Sunday]. Hopefully, the guys took it to heart. There were some pretty tough conversations and tough coaching which is deserved by us players. Ultimately, we didn’t execute enough to get the job done.”
Brady said the team had a good week of practice before heading to Pittsburgh, and hopes they’ll learn from the negatives of the past two weeks. Bouncing back from this stretch will be a great test for the team’s mental toughness moving forward.
“It’s challenging when you have back-to-back losses because you feel pretty crappy,” Brady said. “It’s mental toughness, this is when it really shows. The character of the team, the character of the players, the coaches, the whole organization is tested, because when things aren’t going right, obviously the natural instinct for humans is to point fingers. But everyone should point the finger at themselves and realize that we all individually need to do better so collectively we can put something out there that we’re way more proud of than what we’ve put out the last few weeks.
“Football means a lot to myself and my teammates. We care deeply about winning and losing. When you lose and don’t get the job done, its tough. You look at the other leaders, guys who have been around for a while. If we learn from it, it becomes a great positive,” he added. “Our team has always done that. We take these losses hard, but it doesn’t keep us from wanting to get back out there and improve the things we haven’t been great at. There is some great veteran leadership we have and our whole season is ahead of us.”
As for his own performance on Sunday, Brady is disappointed that he and the offense continues to leave points on the field, as they did on their last two possessions.
“We had two great opportunities, one to take the lead in the red area and one to tie in the red area. The first one I threw an interception, which is inexcusable on my part. The second time we had a great chance to get down there, we had second-and-goal at the six and had a penalty move us back,” said Brady. “We were fighting the clock and the yardage and just never got any great chances at the end zone. To feel like we squandered two red zone opportunities in a game where they limited us to 10 points, it leaves a bad taste in our mouth.
“A few more plays that we make, that go our way, it’s a different story. But as I’ve said before, you can say that about many NFL games,” said Brady.
Brady’s struggles in the fourth quarter have led to more talk about the 41-year-old’s “decline.” Turn on any sports station or sports talk show on TV, and chances are Brady is one of the top topics being discussed. But as always, the QB is blocking out any outside noise.
“This is not the time to turn on the TV and listen to those types of things. This is time to hunker down and focus on what our job is. There is nobody outside of our building who is going to help us win football games,” he said. “That’s what all those TV stations are for; to fill the time and talk about sports and give the fans what they want to hear. But that’s not going to help us win games.
“I never listen to anything. I know what I need to do and what our offense needs to do. Its just a matter now of going out and getting the job done,” said Brady.
The Patriots close the season with back-to-back home games, needing just one win to clinch the AFC East and their spot in the playoffs. The Patriots can still jump back into the No. 2 seed in the AFC if they win out and the Houston Texans lose one of their final two games.
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