FOXBOROUGH – For the third straight week, the Patriots were taken to the final play before the game was decided. Unlike the first two – a last-second field goal to beat the Giants, then a win against the Bills – the third close game didn't go the Patriots' way.
An overtime loss at Denver on Sunday bumped the Patriots from the ranks of the unbeaten. It also gave them things to work on, and situations they've prepared for in practice finally played out in a game. Coach Bill Belichick has been on record saying a team doesn't need to lose a game in order to learn something. He wants his team learning from every game.
"Every game is an opportunity, every game is an experience, so whatever that game brings, it brings," Belichick said Tuesday, during a coaches' conference call. "Over the course of a season, you'll probably touch all the bases somewhere along the line, whether it be weather conditions, close games, playing from ahead, playing from behind, playing on the road, playing at home. All different combinations, and that's why each game is unique and different and has its own characteristics.
"Part of your development as a football team is learning to play competitively in those situations. You practice all of them, but [when] you've actually got to play in them, then you probably learn a little bit more from that.
"Not that we want to be playing from behind, or not that we want to be playing from behind on the road, but whatever comes up comes up, and you've got to learn from it."
After back-to-back primetime games, the Patriots will return home for a 4:25 p.m. game on Sunday against the slumping Philadelphia Eagles, who have lost three straight games but, at 4-7, sit just a game out of the lead in the NFC East. It will be a game the Patriots are favored and expected to win.
"We treat every game the same. We win a game, but there are still things we need to improve in. We lose a game, there are things that we did well, even though the outcome wasn't what we wanted it to be," Belichick said.