Patriots look to quickly turn the page ahead of the playoffs

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New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, January 9, 2022, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo / Lynne Sladky)

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, January 9, 2022, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo / Lynne Sladky)

PA

The Patriots have spoken of the need to instill a heightened sense of urgency since their seven-game winning streak ended in a mistakenly lost to Indianapolis last month.

Three games and two more losses later, New England are still trying to find a way out of their fog as they attempt to retool in time for their wildcard playoff game with division rival Buffalo on Saturday night.

At the very least, Patriots coach Bill Belichick has said they know what to expect from the Bills this week.

“We know they’re a good team,” he said. “They certainly played well in the last game we had against them. Yeah. We have a lot to prepare. “

Another slow start and unforced errors doomed the Patriots early in their 33-24 loss to Miami on Sunday.

Rookie quarterback Mac Jones, the sixth pick in the second quarter over Xavien Howard, put the Patriots in a 14-0 hole, which hasn’t usually meant good things this season.

The Patriots have fallen to 4-6 in the season when they didn’t score first and to 2-6 when they didn’t score in the first quarter.

Jones took a lot of blame for Sunday’s shortcomings.

“It’s super embarrassing, honestly, just from my perspective on how I played,” he said. “It wasn’t good enough. And I can be better. And it starts with me. I’m the quarterback. And it’s my job to make the people around me successful. And it starts with me, so we’re gonna fix it. … We have a great opportunity next week. And that’s all you can ask for.

Belichick said his message to the team this week was not complicated.

“Try to play well and train well,” he said. “It’s a one-game season. It is not a great mystery.

WHAT WORKS

If there is anything positive about New England being able to lean offensively heading into the playoffs, it’s that their running game continues to be productive. The Patriots rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. For the season, the Patriots placed second in the NFL with 24 touchdowns and eighth in the league with 2,151 rushing yards.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

The Patriots were called up for eight penalties on Sunday, tying their season high. It was the fourth time New England have been flagged eight times in a game this season, all losses. The Patriots also suffered eight penalties in their early-season loss to the Dolphins.

STORE

Brandon Bolden has shown exactly why the Patriots brought him back this season, making his first rushing touchdown of the season on a 15-yard rush in the second quarter. He also caught an 18-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter on their return effort. With rookie RB Rhamondre Stevenson suffering a head injury in the first half, Bolden’s number could be called up more this week.

SOLD OUT

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels insisted last week that Jones didn’t hit a rookie wall late in the season. But its effectiveness has certainly decreased over the last four games (six TDs, five INTs). The pick-6 he threw at Howard was one of his worst throws of the season. He also had a costly false start just before half-time that forced a punt.

INJURED

New England lost LT Isaiah Wynn to an ankle injury in the second quarter. Stevenson and DB Sean Davis (shoulder) also struggled with injuries in the first half. Then less than two minutes from the end, DT Christian Barmore injured his knee. Additionally, LB Dont’a Hightower was inactive as he continues to face a knee issue.

KEY NUMBER

2-9 – The Patriots’ record in games played in Miami under Belichick.

AND AFTER

New England found a way to do it in cold, wet and windy conditions in their Week 13 win at Buffalo. The weather will be even more uncomfortable this time around, with early forecasts predicting teen temperatures with snow showers.

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