FOXBOROUGH — It had been 322 days since the Patriots lost a football game, but that streak ended Sunday against the Ravens.
Still, players said Tuesday that they weren’t too down about the first loss of the season and that they still recognize themselves as being in a strong position.
“Good mood,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said, describing the feel of the locker room. “I think we’ve got a lot to be thankful for. We’ve been pretty decent, above average, I think, over the course of the season so far. So there’s no reason for anyone in here to be in the tank, let’s just take advantage of the opportunity that we have to improve this week, try to get healthy, then hopefully come back against Philly and play a little bit better than we did on Sunday night.”
The Patriots are now on their bye week, which means that they’ll have extra time to focus on fixing the mistakes they made against the Ravens. They’ll also have an extra week before they have a chance to rinse away the loss, though.
Slater said it’s fine having the bye come after a loss. No one is complaining about time to rest, regardless of when it comes.
“If you can have it anywhere around this time of year it’s usually a good time,” Slater said. “I think Coach said we’ve been going about 15 weeks straight dating back to training camp and that’s a grind, physically and mentally, emotionally. It’ll be a nice time for guys to step away and clear their minds and get ready to make a push here.”
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy said that the only thing from Sunday that mattered to him was that the team didn’t play well and lost. Losing pace on other historic NFL defenses by allowing 30 points (the Ravens scored 7 off Julian Edelman’s fumble against the offense) or losing the opportunity to go undefeated wasn’t an issue, he said.
“I mean, we’re 8-1. Of course we wanted to be 9-0, so it’s always tough,” Van Noy said. “But facts are facts. We’re 8-1. So that deserves a smile, right?”
Bill Belichick discussed in detail one significant moment from Sunday’s loss in Baltimore in a scheduled appearance on WEEI on Monday afternoon. The moment came with 10 seconds left in the second quarter, when the Patriots were trailing, 17-10, and chose to kick a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
“We had the ball at the start of the second half. It was a 7-point game at that point. Of course, we would have liked to have scored a touchdown, but we felt like that was the right decision at that point in time,” Belichick said. “It certainly could have gone the other way. There was a lot of time left in the game, but I really felt like we could have a chance to come back out, put a good drive together in the third quarter.
“We had started to move the ball in the second quarter, it seemed like things had started to gain a little bit of momentum. Tried to keep that going. Unfortunately, we lost it, then got it back, and then just couldn’t do enough in the last quarter and a half on offense, on defense, or on special teams to change the outcome of the game.”
It was a somewhat conservative decision that by Belichick’s description was a close call. The decision to take the points and kick might have had something to do with the fact that the Patriots’ running game has struggled in those situations.
On the first three downs of that possession, the Patriots lost a yard on a pass to Ben Watson, threw an incompletion, and James White was stopped just short of the goal line.
A group of Patriots players committed to social justice causes — Devin McCourty, Jason McCourty, Ben Watson, Duron Harmon, Matthew Slater, and Deatrich Wise — took part in a screening of the documentary “College Behind Bars” at the Showcase Cinemas at Patriot Place on Monday night. The four-part documentary film series explores the power of education through the eyes of incarcerated men and women working to earn college degrees. Some of the students featured in the film were in attendance, as were filmmakers Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, and Sarah Botstein. The documentary will air on PBS on Nov. 25-26 . . . The Patriots will practice Wednesday, then be off Thursday through Sunday for their bye weekend.