The New England Patriots are not used to having a losing record, especially this deep into the regular season: following their 18-12 defeat at the hands of the visiting Denver Broncos, they are sitting at 2-3 six weeks in — the first time the team finds itself below .500 in the month of October since the 2002 season. Coming off a second straight loss, the team is obviously in need of a quick turnaround.
This message was also echoed by the Patriots’ veteran leaders after the contest.
“We’re 2-3, it kind of is what it is,” said safety Devin McCourty. “I think we look around and we got to win games. We have a losing record right now. We have to find ways to win games. Sense of urgency, it definitely has to be there. It’ll be great to get back to work and prepare and try to get going and get back on the field as soon as possible. But we definitely need that sense of urgency to get better and get better right away.”
Urgency was the phrase of the day for the Patriots, regardless of position group. Running back and fellow team captain James White also mentioned it during his own postgame video conference call, addressing the offense in particular.
“The urgency’s been up and it has to keep going up,” said White. “Obviously we have to find a way to get in a rhythm, offensively especially, and just get it going. We’ve got to help our defense out. They did a great job stopping their offense in the red zone, and then we weren’t giving them any help in the beginning of the game. So we have to do a better job offensively going out there and stringing drives together and try to score points to help the defense out.”
While New England held Denver without a touchdown all game, the team’s offense failed to take advantage of what was some solid defensive football at times. The unit turned the football over three times, scored only 12 total points, and failed to establish a rhythm both through the air and on the ground. While the circumstances worked against the Patriots — the team was missing three starters along the offensive line and practiced just twice over the last two weeks — the results were still disappointing.
Now, the focus shifts towards getting back on track.
“I’m a firm believer that in life you’re going to face obstacles and trials,” said Matthew Slater after the game. “You’re going to face adversity. You hear so many people talk about adversity, whether it’s in sports in life, you hear countless motivational speakers, pastors talk about it all the time. Adversity is a part of life and certainly when it comes to football and the way that this year has gone with the pandemic and everything, adversity is something that we’ve experienced quite a bit of.
“I do think that adversity can do one of two things: it can either break your spirit and throw you off track or it can bring out the best in you. And it can develop character and perseverance and qualities that are going to make you better as a human being and, certainly as a team it can make you better. It’s just about how we respond at this point and there’s not much else to say.”
Slater, who has been a part of 11 division champions and three of the Patriots’ Super Bowl wins, was not the only member of the team to look forward in the face of adversity. Cam Newton, who had an inconsistent performance in his return from the Coronavirus reserve list, also spread the same message.
“There’s no need to panic,” New England’s starting quarterback said. “But we for sure have an opportunity here. We just cannot allow ourselves to go through the motions and expect, us being who we are is going to take care of itself, because that’s not the case. We’re not that good at that particular point yet and we need, obviously, practice and hopefully everything else is halted from the Covid situation and which will allow us to do that.”
Devin McCourty echoed Newton’s remarks as well while adding one more key aspect the Patriots need to work on: consistency.”
“When you watch the games, it’s not like we’re terrible at a bunch of stuff, we just have to make plays,” said McCourty. “You look at it, we did good in the red area. We did some things well on defense, but we gave up a couple of deep balls. A couple of runs broke out, you know, it’s just the little thing and I think that’s what we have to continue to work on. It’s not like we have these huge holes on our team, we just have to play more consistent.
“At different times during a game we look like we’re blazing, we’re right on top of things. And other times we don’t, so it probably really comes down to just consistency.”
How can that consistency be found? The sense of urgency mentioned by McCourty and White is a start, as is putting in the work necessary, as pointed out by Matthew Slater.
“You have to commit ourselves to our craft when we’re able to, to maximize the windows that we have when we come into this building,” he said. “This is a unique season but if we’re going to go and play football we certainly can’t feel sorry for ourselves.”