Dishing Out More Humble Pie

Following an explosive and perfect nine weeks of football for the New England Patriots, this bye week has brought a sense of contentment to Pats fans. With the players taking the free week for some rest and relaxation, the Patriots coaching staff won't let the team coast through the final seven games with any sort of complacency.

This was evident toward the end of the Colts/ Patriots game last Sunday. Patriots' running back Kevin Falk just capped off one of the best comeback wins in recent Patriots history diving and stretching the ball across the goal-line.

As Faulk landed in the end zone, he fumbled the ball, which was picked up by a Colts defender. The fumble didn't matter to any of the Patriots players, because the play ends as soon as the ball crosses the goal-line and it was a Patriots touchdown. The fumble did matter to Patriots coach Bill Belichick though.

New England Patriots running back Kevin Faulk, front, stretches out for a touchdown the fourth quarter of NFL football action against Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2007. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

 

Following the game, Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady said "Kevin told me after the touchdown … you know he reached [the ball] over and he scores and he runs off the field and coach goes 'Great play Kevin, Great play!'. " Brady paused and smiled. " 'Hold on to the bleeping ball!' He was giving out that humble pie you know we've all experienced before."

"Humble pie" has been the big catch phrase around the Patriots locker room throughout the first half of the season. Now that the Patriots are 9-0, this still isn't the time to take stock of the team's accomplishments.

Pats safety Rodney Harrison this week said "it's been nine games. I mean we haven't won anything. We've won some ball games, but we haven't quite won anything yet. Like I said before, we've won a lot of ball games around here. We understand [with] each victory, you have more pressure from the outside for us to win, but no one puts more pressure on us than we do as a group so we understand that we're 9-0 and that's fine and dandy, but we still have a long time."

Defensive lineman Richard Seymour said there has been nothing perfect about their 9-0 season. "Well, up front we can stop the run better," he said "We can break down and make tackles and I think in the first half of the Indy game I think that was one of the things that we definitely could have done better was tackling. This [bye week] will give us an opportunity you know…coaches can draw it up but you still have to go out there make plays and for us, defensively, that's one of the things that we have to do: Tackle, be where we are supposed to be and for myself personally get in good shape and be ready to go."

 

Belichick said the bye week must be a time spent preparing for upcoming games and not be satisfied with the first nine wins.

"That's not really what [the bye week is] for," Belichick said this week. "We've got nine games; we've got nine regular-season games. There's a lot of data there on what we've done, what we've done well, what we haven't done well, maybe there's trends, things that are improving, maybe there's things that are kind of heading in the other direction that aren't going as well."

 

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick before their NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2007, in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Belichick said the focus of the players this week was to rest and treatment for injuries, while the coaching staff looks ahead on the upcoming schedule and addressing the needs of the team. "I think when you look at your schedule at the beginning of the year you see who the first three, four, five games are and what kind of general trends you're going to be facing offensively and defensively. For example, defensively, we saw a lot of the San Diego-type offenses early in the season, so now it's time to look at the latter half of the schedule and kind of get a general sense of running teams, passing teams, spread teams, zone defenses, man defenses, blitzing teams.

"Teams like Baltimore and Pittsburgh and teams like that going forward - the Giants, Philadelphia - teams that historically have pressured quite a bit, so that's something that we might want to take into consideration, just in our overall planning for the second half of the season. I'm not saying we're looking ahead to those teams, I'm just saying having an understanding of what type of things we might be facing down the road," he said.

There's really no telling how much "humble pie" the players have eaten this week, but there was plenty of rest and healing.

Patriots' tight end Benjamin Watson said "The bye week is nice; nice to heal up, especially for the couple guys who have injuries, but it's always fun to play every week. We're resting, but at the same time we wish that we were out there playing. It's just good to take a break and get away from football a little bit and then come back ready to finish up."

Harrison said the bye week coming at the midpoint of the season has come at a perfect time. "Any time you get a chance to get rest and spend some time with the family, I think it helps," he said "We've still got seven weeks to go in the regular season. It's just a great opportunity for the guys that have been here that have been going through a tough season to just take some time out and get healthy."

Cornerback Ellis Hobbs said getting healthy and playing video games is on his agenda. "Me, I'm going to rehab, any nicks or bruises I've got. I'm going to sit on my butt on the couch and play some Madden. I'm going to play some unrealistic football."

Although the Patriots are looking forward, there's no doubt the rest is sweeter with the victory over Indy. "We need to continue to work hard so the next time we get into a situation like this we can perform a little bit better. We are excited about the win and definitely excited going into the bye week so we can rest up to heal up. We have a whole week and a half to enjoy this one."

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