The best way for the New England Patriots to forget about last week's deflating loss to Indianapolis is to have something to occupy their minds.
Luckily for the Patriots, they have an equally important game on the horizon Sunday against the rival New York Jets, who are still alive in the AFC East race, albeit on life support.
There will be no distractions because the Patriots can't afford to have them. The challenge now is to put last week's loss in the rear-view mirror and focus solely on the task at hand.
"You lose those games and emotionally you're pretty drained," quarterback Tom Brady said. "It's disappointing for everybody, but the reality is there's a lot of games left for us. We all understand that.
"If you can make the improvements that we need to make and clean up some of the things that we've made mistakes on, then you can come out with a win. And we're playing a team that's already beat us this year. That presents some different challenges for us. I just hope we play better than we did the last time against them."
The Patriots dropped their Week 2 showdown against the Jets at the Meadowlands, 16-9, in what many viewed as a lethargic effort against a team that, at the time, appeared to be one of the top contenders in the AFC.
Since then, the Jets have dropped four of their last five games and are now 4-5 in the AFC East. Nonetheless, they still only trail the Patriots by two games in the race for first place. Another win Sunday would put them a game out and give them possession of the tie-breaker.
"I'd like to think that we're a better team now than we were in the second week of the year," Brady said. "We've made some good improvements. But this team really challenges us. It was probably our lowest output of the season in points, yards, production, third downs, all the way across the board.
"We had a bunch of yards in penalties, also. They're a good team and they challenge us in a lot of ways. Playing them one time, I think that's going to help you, but we can't play much worse than we played. There's got to be some saving grace in that."
Anything would help take their minds off last week's loss to the Colts in which their coach, Bill Belichick, was criticized for a curious decision down the stretch. The Patriots have deflected the criticism and are now focusing squarely on beating the Jets. They don't have any other choice.
"I don't take anything personally," Brady said. "It's nothing about our personalities. You know, when you lose, people place the blame in certain areas and we all know in here that there's not one thing to blame. We all could have done things better."
SERIES HISTORY: 99th regular-season meeting. Jets lead series 50-47-1. The Jets won earlier this season, 16-9, but the Patriots overall have won 11 of their last 14 against New York and have swept the season series four of the last six years. However, the Jets won last year at Gillette Stadium.
--QB Tom Brady recorded his fourth consecutive 300-yard game Sunday night in Indianapolis, a career-best for the two-time Super Bowl MVP.
The NFL record for consecutive 300-yard games is six, shared by Steve Young (1998), Kurt Warner (2000) and Rich Gannon (2002).
--The Patriots flexed their muscles offensively against the Colts, scoring 34 points in an eventual one-point loss.
Indianapolis entered the game ranked first in the NFL in fewest points allowed per game at 13.5 and hadn't allowed more than 23 points in a game all season.
--The Jets may be in for a long afternoon Sunday because the Patriots are traditionally difficult to beat following a loss.
Since 2003, they are 20-1, a .952 winning percentage, after losing the previous week. That includes a 2-0 record this season.
During that same stretch, they've only lost back-to-back games, once when they dropped two in a row in November 2006.
--Since 2001, the Patriots are 13-5 against their division rivals from New York, and have lost just once on the road (a 16-9 loss in September).
The only statistic favoring the Jets is the fact they've won two of their last three regular-season games against New England at Gillette Stadium.
--WR Randy Moss reached 100 yards for the fifth time this season when he caught nine passes for 179 yards against the Colts.
Moss' personal record for 100-yard games in a season is nine, which he set in 2007. The NFL record is 11, set by Michael Irvin in 1995.
--The biggest thing the Patriots will look for Sunday is adjustments by Jets, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan comes from a talented family tree, so Bill Belichick knows what to expect.
"One thing about the Jets is they continue to add little tweaks and give you different looks," Belichick said. "Even if they run the same look, they'll do it with a little variation, things that make it look a little different than the last time around. They do a good job of that."
--LT Matt Light still doesn't know whether he'll be back on the field Sunday against the Jets, but he's mighty fond of his replacement, Sebastian Vollmer, who continues to impress in an expanded role.
"I'll tell you what, man, he faced one of the top guys in the league and played a hell of a game," Light said of Vollmer's performance against the Colts' Robert Mathis. "He's done a great job. He's a young guy that works at it. He's doing well."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm standing up without swaying." -- G Stephen Neal, downplaying the severity of the head injury that forced him to miss part of the Colts game.
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