National Football League
AFC Standings |
NFC Standings |
Scores - Previous
Patriots Team Report: December dominance
New England Patriots Week 15 Team Report
(Sports Network) - The Patriots, who have won three straight games, are coming
off a solid 27-17 home victory over Drew Bledsoe's Buffalo Bills. New England
jumped out to a 20-0 lead in the first half and cruised to the season sweep of
AFC East rival Buffalo.
The Pats started the season 3-0 before a four-game skid turned their season
upside down. However, Bill Belichick's team has won five of six games since
the slide to go three games over .500.
"When you're 3-4, you just hope that you could be 4-4, you're not thinking
about 6-5, 8-5, or anything else," said Belichick. "I think that's the only
way you can ever get to 8-5, or whatever. Once you're 3-4 and you start
thinking about 10-6, you're probably going to be 3-5...you've got to take a
short-term approach and you can only play one game at a time. You better put
all you've got into that one game, or you'll be mourning that loss and trying
to talk about being 4-4 instead of 3-5.
"So right now, whether we're 8-5, or if we were 5-8, I think it's the same
approach -- we've got Tennessee this week and we've got to put everything
we've got into the Tennessee game. This is a big game, it's an important game,
and it's a tough game. It's a Monday night game on the road, and Tennessee is
one of the best football teams in the league."
Belichick and New England's veterans are well-aware of the time of year.
December in the NFL is crunch time, and few teams have been better in the
year's final month than the Patriots. New England, which has won five straight
December games, owns a 7-2 mark in the month under Belichick. The team
compiled a perfect December last year en route to the franchise's first Super
"I don't know if we can rely on what we did during last year's Super Bowl run
to help us this year," said Belichick. "That was a long time ago and we have a
whole new challenge this year. Tennessee is a good example. It's a team we
haven't faced and we don't really have any background with them. They are a
really tough team to get ready for. I think the main thing this time of year
that to me is important is the veteran experience -- guys that have been
playing at this time of year and know what is at stake and know how the games
get played later on in the season. I think that is really helpful, but I don't
know if a game a year ago or two years ago means much.
"It's really the veteran leadership at this time of year that's important,
it's important to every team. No matter what your record is, who you're
playing, or anything else, I think it's important to any team. We have, I
think, a lot of good veteran leadership on this team, so that's good. In terms
of the carry over from last year, I don't know about any of that. I think if
we go out and lose the last three games you're going to sit there and say
there isn't too much carry over. I think that'll all be reflected upon when
it's over, rather than where we are now. Whatever leadership, whatever
character, whatever toughness, whatever commitment, whatever it is we have, we
better put all of it into the Tennessee game."
The Patriots' stern head coach is all business heading into the Monday night
showdown with Tennessee, and certainly won't let his team rest on its laurels
after beating Buffalo handily last week. However, it's difficult to ignore the
team's recent success.
QB Tom Brady outdueled his mentor, Bledsoe, for the second time this season
last week. The Super Bowl XXXVI MVP completed 15-of-27 passes for 183 yards
and two touchdowns against the Bills in Week 14. Most importantly, the Pats'
offense didn't turn the ball over.
"Everythingís on the line, so we have to play our best from here on out," said
Brady, who is the AFCís second-rated passer in the fourth quarter of games
(102.4 rating with nine TD passes and one interception). "In just one game you
can go from being at the top to the bottom real quick."
One of the biggest keys to the Pats' offense is spreading the ball around to
several different receivers. Last week, 10 different Patriots had a reception
versus Buffalo. Expect that trend to continue against the Titans, but WR Deion
Branch might not be able to play because of a leg injury.
Wideouts Troy Brown, David Patten and Donald Hayes, who caught his second
touchdown pass as a Patriot last week, will have to provide Brady with
consistent targets downfield against Tennessee's 19th-ranked defense.
"Itís a little more challenging to prepare for a team like Tennessee because
we donít know these guys like we know Buffalo or Miami or New York [Jets],"
said Brown, who needs one more reception to be the first player in franchise
history with three consecutive 80-catch seasons. "So itís definitely more of a
challenge for us to get to know these guys better. All we hear about are the
guys, the big-name guys that we hear about all the time when you see them on
the highlights. They definitely have some players on the team who can play, so
we definitely have to find out what they are all about and get to know them
better and the only way you can do it is by watching film. You have to double
up on that stuff a little more than you usually do."
It could be tough for the Patriots to run the ball consistently on Monday
night. New England's ground attack ranks 28th in the NFL. RB Antowain Smith
gained 68 yards and a touchdown on 17 attempts versus Buffalo, but he's only
eclipsed the 100-yard mark once this season. The Titans have the sixth-best
run defense in the NFL (97.3 yards per game).
COMING UP: The Patriots will close out the regular season with home games
against the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins.
12/13 17:45:31 ET
powered by The Sports Network