FOXBORO (CBS) — Elite special teams play has always been a staple of Bill Belichick’s Patriots. A somewhat forgotten aspect to many other teams is a focus for Belichick, who is always preached the importance of all three phases of the game.

But there has been some serious leakage in New England’s special teams unit in 2021. Heading into the season, it had been five years since the Patriots had allowed the opposition to block a punt. After the Cowboys rejected a Jake Bailey boot in Sunday’s 35-29 overtime loss, the Patriots have now surrendered a pair of blocked punts in a three-week span. The New Orleans Saints also blocked a punt against New England in Week 3 — also a home loss for the Patriots.

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So what the heck is going on with New England’s special teams unit? Belichick was obviously not a happy head coach when asked about the unit’s issues during his Monday morning radio interview on WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show.

“We just obviously have to do a better job. Neither of those plays should have been a problem, but we just didn’t execute them well enough,” said Belichick. “Obviously we have to coach them better and play them better. We’ll just have to keep working on that.

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“We haven’t done anything differently than we’ve done in the past. But two is certainly two too many,” Belichick added. “That’s an area we can’t continue to make those kind of mistakes or they’ll continue to cost us.”

The Cowboys didn’t capitalize on their blocked punt on Sunday, as the New England defense came up with a huge goal-line stand, stuffing four runs at the one-yard line, forcing quarterback Dak Prescott to fumble on fourth down.

That was also the case in Week 3’s loss to the Saints. After Bailey had a punt blocked in the second quarter, the Saints marched down the field and missed a field goal.

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While neither of those special teams miscues cost them points, they’re something that Bill Belichick wants to eradicate from New England’s growing list of issues this season.

CBSBoston.com Staff