FOXBOROUGH - Running down the laundry list of miscues in the Patriots’ 24-20 loss to the Giants, Wes Welker almost seemed too tired - or too frustrated - to finish.
“Turnovers, not converting on third down, it’s across the board,’’ he said. “There’s all sorts of reasons.’’
Tom Brady threw two interceptions and lost a fumble. Julian Edleman coughed one up, too. Stephen Gostkowski, who had made all six of his kicks from 20-29 yards entering the game, missed one from 27. The Patriots were 5 of 15 on third down. They committed seven penalties for 81 yards.
So when he looked at his own numbers - nine catches for 136 yards (his fifth 100-yard game this season and the 20th of his career) - there was no use in pointing to them as a silver lining.
“It never matters,’’ Welker said.
On a day when it took three quarters for the Patriots offense to wake up, Welker was the team’s most reliable option, making the most of his 10 targets.
Even when he was roughed up by Giants linebacker Michael Boley, who drove Welker’s shoulder hard into the ground after the receiver had caught a 4-yard pass over the middle in the second quarter, Welker toughed it out. The Patriots called an injury timeout, but Welker didn’t miss a play. After the game he said there were no lingering effects.
“I just kind of got the breath knocked out of me,’’ he said.
The Patriots didn’t get in the end zone until the fourth quarter, when Brady found Aaron Hernandez on a 5-yard scoring strike at 14:28. Welker made grabs of 27 and 28 yards that were the pillars of the drive.
The Patriots were down, 17-13, when they marched 64 yards and Brady found Rob Gronkowski on fourth down over the middle for a 14-yard score that put them ahead with 1:36 left. At that point they were confident they had done enough to win despite not clicking most of the day, but Eli Manning drove the Giants 80 yards for the winning drive.
“Our defense played well all day, we felt good about the position we were in and that’s just the way it goes,’’ Welker said. “We’ve just got to get back to work and work harder and come back next week and fix the mistakes that we had.’’
Losing to the Giants after falling to the Steelers in Pittsburgh last week gave the Patriots consecutive losses for the first time since 2009. Yesterday, they dug themselves some holes - their first six drives started at the 5, 6, 17, 20, 11, and 9 yard lines - then found ways to dig those ditches deeper with penalties and turnovers. The offense never found a rhythm. The lack of execution bothered Welker.
“There’s always concern about that,’’ he said. “You want to go out and execute. We’ve got to try and be perfect every time we’re out there, every single play and help each other do the things necessary to move the ball down the field, and that takes all 11 guys.’’
The Patriots put up 188 total yards in a scoreless first half, but drives stalled, with the team converting only two of seven times on third down. They scored 17 points in the fourth quarter.
After averaging 33 points the first five games, the Patriots have put up 19 a game the past three and the focus heading into next week’s matchup with the Jets will be tuning up an offense in need of maintenance.
“Any time you lose there’s going to be plays that you wished you had back, and we had plenty of them today,’’ Welker said. “Give the Giants credit, they did a good job and capitalized on a lot of their opportunities and we didn’t and that’s what it comes down to.’’Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.