Mama said there'd be days like these, but the 2009 Patriots didn't expect to have them this often this early in the season.
But the fact is that two weeks into the season New England is lucky to be 1-1 and has played sub-par football for all but five minutes of the season. And those final minutes that came in the desperation in the comeback effort in the opening night win over the Bills are all that's kept Bill Belichick's squad from what would have been a shocking 0-2 start.
Now, heading into Sunday afternoon's meeting with the 2-0 upstart Falcons at Gillette Stadium, Belichick is tasked with getting his team to look like what it's expected to be, one of the NFL's elite teams.
But after Sunday's dismal loss to the Jets in the Meadowlands, Belichick says there is no one thing that needs correcting for New England to suddenly snap into its expected Super Bowl-contender form.
"Just overall we need to do a lot of things better than we did (against the Jets) down in Giants Stadium: coaching, playing, offense, defense, special teams, big guys, skilled guys, you name it," Belichick said after digesting film of the loss to New York. "(There are) too many little things that need to be better. (We are) just not doing things as well as we need to do them; in a close division game like that, that ends up being the difference."
"I agree with Coach ... the little ones definitely add up," running back Fred Taylor said. "Once you correct the small ones, you're that much better."
Maybe most surprising is New England's struggles in the passing game. Tom Brady has attempted 100 passes in two games, but his only two touchdowns came in the fourth quarter of the comeback against the Bills, the only time the air game looked its supposedly potent self. And he's thrown a pair of interceptions in two weeks while putting up a very un-Brady 76.8 passer rating for an aerial attack that's looked alarmingly sluggish, a number that would be much worse without the five-minute flash of near perfection against the Bills.
"I think overall in the passing game we've got to do a better job of throwing the ball, getting open, catching it, protecting and all the things that are involved in the passing game that includes everybody," Belichick said.
But as bad as it has been at times through the first two weeks, Belichick has been around long enough to know that two weeks into the season is no time to panic.
"Whenever you win, there're things that aren't good," Belichick said. "Whenever you lose, there are things that are good. Sometimes it's within a play. You could have a bad play and there could still be good things within that play. We try to break that down and point those things out, whatever they are - good or bad. (We) make our corrections, win or lose, good play or bad play, and try to keep working with the idea of getting, back and improving things that we didn't do right and reinforcing the things that we did do. That's a part of it every week. It shouldn't change whether we win, or lose, or have a good play, or have a bad play. We try to do the same thing. Everything's important."
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