Patriots Notebook: Loss Raises Concerns

The Patriots loss to the Miami Dolphins last Sunday raised concerns that maybe the New England is more vulnerable to the injuries and roster turnover than in seasons past. The shutout was enough of a concern that the Patriots took a look at new faces this week to shore up part of the roster.

First Shutout In 3 Seasons

The Patriots were shut out Sunday, marking the first time New England had been shut out since it dropped a 31-0 decision to the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sept. 7, 2003. Before that, the last time the Patriots were shut out was on Nov. 28, 1993, when they lost 6-0 to the Jets at Foxboro Stadium.

"It's always hard to reflect after you get shut out 21-0. In the big picture, 9-4, there are a lot of teams -- I think the big thing is that you try to make improvements through December and hopefully that's good enough to get you into the playoffs," QB Tom Brady said. "We have the rest of December to see if we can improve and play better. From that point on, we'll see what happens. I'd like to see us improve. I think we have a good football team if we don't make mistakes. If we make mistakes, any team is pretty average. We've proven we're pretty average when we make mistakes as well."

Road Record Ends

Sunday's loss to Miami broke the Patriots' string of seven consecutive regular-season road victories, a string that tied the longest road winning streak in team history. Prior to Sunday, the last time the Patriots lost a road game in the regular season was Nov. 27, 2005, when New England fell 26-16 at Kansas City. New England also won seven consecutive road games from Oct. 19, 2003, to Oct. 3, 2004.

"There are some corrections that need to be made, but it's not the end of the world though," DB Artrell Hawkins said. "We're sitting here at 9-4, and we have the ability to come back and play again next week. Typically, we've played well after losses. We'll continue to work and see what happens."

Early Score Breaks Trend

Miami opened the scoring with a 35-yard field goal by Olindo Mare with 28 seconds left in the first quarter. The field goal marked the first time the Patriots had allowed their opponents to score in the first quarter since the Colts got a first-quarter touchdown on Nov. 5. New England has allowed 29 first-quarter points through 13 games this season, including just two touchdowns, one of which came on a fumble return in the season opener against Buffalo.

Hobbs Struggles

"You have to take that up with the coaching staff, Bill in particular, I don't know what they're doing. As far as I'm concerned, wherever I'm at, I'm just trying to make plays. It doesn't matter if it's special teams or whatever, it doesn't matter to me. Am I disappointed in it? Obviously. But you have to be a professional about it." -- CB Ellis Hobbs on why he didn't play much against the Dolphins this week.

Wilfork And Watson Dinged

DT Vince Wilfork and TE Ben Watson were both injured in Sunday's game. Wilfork appeared to have hurt his foot and Watson his knee. More will be known about how severe the injuries are later in the week, but Wilfork and Watson are two players the Patriots can't afford to lose.

Mike Wright filled in for Wilfork who was seen limping in the locker room after the game. If Wilfork is out for an extended period of time the team has DL Mike Wright and Le Kevin Smith available. Ty Warren and Richard have also played defensive tackle during the season.

Watson's shoes would be more difficult to fill. He is the team's leading receiver with 49 catches for 643 yards and 3 touchdowns. Rookie tight end David Thomas filled in for the injured Watson during the game. TE Garrett Mills, was lost for the season when the Patriots placed him on injured reserve.

The Patriots had a number of tight ends in for tryouts this week. Walter Rasby, Lamont Hall worked out on Tuesday with others scheduled for a workout on Wednesday.

Taylor Deserves More Credit

"I think he's the best player we've played against this year. We haven't played against everybody, so I can't speak to that, but he's a helluva player. He makes plays every week. Everyone is looking for him, and he still continues to make big plays and turnovers and all that. He's a tremendous player, having a great year. They do a good job with him in their scheme and make it hard to find him, and he takes advantage of his opportunities. He's an outstanding player." -- Bill Belichick on playing against Miami's Jason Taylor.


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