Patriots Squander Opportunities Against Jets

For the first time in nearly four years the Patriots have now lost two games in a row, following Sunday afternoon's disappointing performance and 17-14 falling to the Jets at a rainy Gillette Stadium. That somewhat surprising performance, the team's first loss of the year in the AFC East, allowed the Jets back in the division race and came on the heals of the team's loss to the Colts in Week 9.

So after going 57 games without back to back defeats, the second longest stretch in NFL history (San Francisco 60 from 1995-99), New England now has to deal with a losing streak for the first time since Dec. 22, 2002. That's when the very same Jets beat New England 30-17 a week after Tennessee had knocked off the defending Super Bowl champs. That Patriots team ended that season without a playoff berth.

This time around, the second-straight loss for New England included another uncharacteristic event in Patriots Nation, consecutive poor performances from Tom Brady. After throwing four interceptions and no touchdowns for the second-worst passer rating of his career in the team's 27-20 loss to the Colts, Brady threw one pick and was off target all night in muddy, dreary conditions against the Jets.

It was also New England's third loss of the season at home, leaving the team with a 6-3 mark and some uncharacteristic questions to answer in the coming weeks.

"I've got tremendous confidence for us to bounce back, just like every week," offensive captain Troy Brown said. "Nothing changes with me. I'm just disappointed right now that we lost another game here at home. You have to defend your own turf to even start to have a chance.

New York Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (89) reaches over New England Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs, left, for a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of their football game in Foxborough, Mass. Sunday, Nov. 12, 2006. The Jets defeated the Patriots, 17-14. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

"Right now it is what it is -- we are 6-3. Wherever that puts us in the pack, that's where we are, in the middle of the pack somewhere. We are at the back of the best teams and the top of the worst teams. Wherever we are, that's what we are right now. We've lost two games in a row."

And even if Brady has struggled in recent weeks, heading into Sunday's matchup with a Packers pass defense that's ranked dead last in the NFL, his teammates know winning and losing in New England is, as the cliche goes, a team effort.

"Tom is the leader of this team. And if he has a bad day we have a bad day," center Dan Koppen said after the loss to New York. "It's not all on him. He's going to go into that pressroom and he's going to take the brunt of it because that's what he does. That's the type of guy he is. But there is no reason why he should have to do that. We are all in this together and this was a team loss. You just can't put it all on his shoulders and when we don't give him time to make plays -- that's on us."

Both Brady and the Patriots will look to bounce back at Lambeau against the Packers. And with the team's track record actually better on the road this season, including big wins in Minnesota and Cincinnati, that's really been the place where Bill Belichick's team has been at its best.

The last time the Patriots lost two in a row the team failed to make the postseason. With the Jets win Sunday they're back in the AFC East race and playoff chase. New England knows it can't allow its uncharacteristic losing streak to get to three games, especially with a tough home matchup with the Bears just a week away.

 

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