Celebrating back-to-back victories for the first time all season, the New England Patriots have plenty of momentum heading into their Week 9 matchup with the Carolina Panthers. At 4-4 they certainly are trending in the right direction after a lackluster start into the season, but team captain Matthew Slater spoke some words of caution on Thursday.
The message he shared during his press conference was pretty straight forward: the Patriots can feel good about where they are headed, but they have not accomplished anything yet.
“I think we’re in an encouraging place. I think we’ve made some progress and we’re starting to see that progress show up in the win column, which is big for us,” Slater said. “But I think it’s kind of human nature: You win a couple games, get yourself back in play, and you feel like, ‘Oh, we’ve done something.’”
After opening the season with a 2-4 record that saw them lose close games against the Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys — all of which at home — the Patriots bounced back recently. Not only did they celebrate a 54-13 blowout over the New York Jets to end their four-game losing streak at Gillette Stadium, they also went on the road to defeat the Los Angeles Chargers 27-24 in a hard-fought contest.
That game against L.A. was celebrated as a statement victory for the Patriots, and rightfully so. Not only did they beat a playoff-caliber team, they also made the clutch plays they oftentimes failed to execute earlier in the season.
With the arrow pointed up, though, Slater took to the podium to remind those listening of the one thing New England cannot allow itself to happen.
“I think the one thing we can’t do is become complacent,” the 36-year-old said. “Four wins in this league is not going to get you anything. Being .500 in this league is not going to get you anything either. I think we have to fight the urge to become complacent. And we have to continue the urgency, continue the preparation on a day-to-day basis, and then obviously continue the execution on game day.”
New England will get its next chance to to do all that on Sunday against the Panthers. The game also is another opportunity for the team to right some wrongs — the Patriots have lost all three of their games against NFC opponents so far this year — and to keep building positive habits heading into the second half of the season.