BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots suffered their worst home loss of the Bill Belichick regime on Sunday. Their 33-6 defeat at the hands of the 49ers put New England in some even more unfamiliar territory.
The Patriots sit at 2-4 on the season for the first time since 2000 — Belichick’s first year on the job. They’ve lost three straight for the first time since 2002.
Usually you can point to any sluggish start during the Belichick era and see a turnaround by the end of the season. But in those two aforementioned seasons, the Patriots failed to make the playoffs.
Sunday’s loss was simply brutal on all fronts. The offensive struggles continued and, if you can even fathom it, looked worse than previous weeks. The defense couldn’t do anything to slow down the 49ers offense, as Jimmy G. picked them apart with short passes that turned into long gains and San Fran’s running backs gashed them with every rush attempt.
It was ugly all around with no real redeeming factors. The defeat had some of New England’s most vocal leaders searching for answers, and speaking out about the state of the team.
“I mean anybody that’s been here for a while, we haven’t been in this position, but I do know we have to stick together and we got to just fight. You don’t ever want to come out here and get embarrassed the way we did today. And there’s no excuse,” said captain Devin McCourty. “There’s nothing to talk about. We just got to keep working. We just have to keep fighting together. I’m sure I’ll be saying that the whole night. I mean, it’s just embarrassing the way we went out there and played. I mean we got to go out there and play to keep jobs right now, you know, I know coach Belichick, the Krafts, they’re not fielding a team for us to go out there and play like that, so we have to improve and we have to improve in a hurry.”
“Frustrated and disappointed, obviously,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said after the defeat. “You know you work so hard at this game, you give it everything you have in order for you to be successful as a team and certainly we are disappointed with the way things have gone thus far. I think there is a lot of football out there for us and a lot of opportunities. The one thing we can’t do is feel sorry for ourselves because no one else is going to do that and if we do that then it is going to be a long season. Again, I believe in the men in this team and believe we can find a way to right this ship.”
The Patriots failed to score in the first quarter for the fifth time this season, and they found themselves in a 21-3 hole by halftime. Cam Newton was once again miserable at quarterback and was benched in the third quarter after throwing his third interception of the afternoon.
Newton has now thrown no touchdowns and five picks over the last two weeks. After the game he said that he is healthy, and that his issues are between his ears.
“I can’t speak for everybody. I just stick to the man in the mirror and I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t — in no way shape or form did I put this team in a position to compete, and that’s inexcusable,” Newton said. “This is the National Football League where a lot is put on the quarterback and I have to deliver and I haven’t done that. Quite frankly, it’s evident. So here moving forward, I know what the issue is, like I just said, and I just have to be better.”
McCourty said that New England’s struggles boil down to a lack of execution.
“You can give all the effort you want in this league, we have to go execute. Effort is there. There’s always going to be times when you feel that you could have did some more. But we have to execute,” he said “We can’t just come and try hard. Every team is going to come and play hard. We have to give effort, but we also have to execute. You know I can only speak from a defensive standpoint, like we have to go do our job well. We can’t just be out there and look at each other and say, ‘At least we’re trying.’ Like, that’s just not good enough. This is the National Football League. That was a good San Francisco team that came in here, but we can’t just try. We have to go and play well. We come out and just try every week, we’re going to have some weeks where we lose by three or four points, it’s a close game and we could have done this could have done that. Or today where we don’t execute really at all, and a team that’s executing at a high level, we really don’t stand a chance, but it’s never going to go well for us. We might win a game here or there when you just have effort. We have to actually execute, too.”
Though frustrated and embarrassed after Sunday’s defeat, the team is trying to remain upbeat. They’ll watch film on Monday, hopefully learn from their mistakes, and quickly shift focus to Sunday’s matchup against the Buffalo Bills. New England’s division rival currently sits atop the AFC East at 5-2, and if the Patriots want any shot at turning this season around, it has to start against their own division.
While the odds of a playoff run don’t look great following a 2-4 start, the Patriots still believe they have the character to make it happen.
“When I look at our football team right now, obviously we are in a very tough position, a position that we are not excited about,” said Slater. “But if there is anything that sees us through this, it is going to be our character and commitment to one another and then our commitment to our game. I certainly have a lot of faith in the men in that locker room. We are going to have to demand a lot of one another and at the end of the day we have to continue to believe in what we are doing and continue to believe in who we are.”
Tune in to Sunday’s Patriots-Bills matchup on WBZ-TV! Pregame coverage begins at 11:30 a.m. with Patriots GameDay, kickoff is set for 1 p.m., and after the game stay tuned for full reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter!