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Even at 5-0, Patriots looking to improve

Head coach Bill Belichick discusses his team's fifth straight victory to start the 2007 season. But he's not thrilled with everything he's seen, particularly in the most recent game.

Patriots fans may have been thrilled with New England's 34-17 victory of Cleveland.

But after looking at the game film, Bill Belichick wasn't.

"I think it was pretty obvious that what we saw yesterday was validated on the film," New England's head coach proclaimed at the start of his mid-Monday press conference.

"We certainly had a lot of problems with some of the things that the Browns did schematically, and I thought they did a good job game-planning wise. They created several problems for us. They have a lot of good players. They created some matchups that we had trouble with."

One of those players with whom Belichick was concerned all last week was kick and punt returner Joshua Cribbs.

"I thought we had our moments," Belichick responded when asked how his team was able to control the play-making Cribbs.

"I thought there were a couple that we covered pretty well. There were a couple that we didn't. I think we could do a better job. They're good. No doubt about it. I thought at times we were okay. At other times not so good."

On offense, New England's third-down conversion rate was uncharacteristically low. The team converted only 2 of 12 attempts.

"I'd say it was a combination of things," Belichick observed. "We missed some throws. We dropped some balls. A couple of the plays we had weren't the greatest for what they had on that particular play. In some cases, we didn't really have great options there.

"They cover well. They made a couple of good plays on the ball. We missed some that were makeable. But the bottom line was … We had some short drives, some short possessions and that's not what we're looking for."

If there was any consolation to be found on film, Belichick said it was on the offensive line.

"I thought overall our offensive line did a pretty good job. We had time to throw. We ran the ball okay. It wasn't perfect, but it wasn't bad. The quarterback didn't get hit a whole lot and we made some yards in the running game. We should have made more."

Defensively, New England's game plan didn't really change, even when the Brown's lost their starting running back, the bruising Jamal Lewis, early in the first quarter. Shifty backup Jason Wright took Lewis' place.

"I don't think they changed their plays or their formations," Belichick said. "I don't think there were a lot of fundamental changes. [Wright] is in the game in all of the passing situations anyway, like the angle route he caught out of the backfield. He probably would have been in there anyway, the way the game went.

"We played almost 40 plays of sub defense, so I think that he probably would have been in there for a lot of those plays as the back anyway. Maybe not all of them, but quite a few of them. So we didn't really change much in terms of game-planning or anything."

In a season where the Patriots offense has been putting up spectacular numbers, it was their defense that saved the day against Cleveland, with several sacks, interceptions, a forced fumble, and a defensive touchdown.

"Fortunately, we were able to make enough plays. The turnovers were a big part of it," Belichick noted, "to be able to come out with more points than they did. I thought that was a big drive that we had in the fourth quarter and we had a lot of time of possession in the fourth quarter. We were able to kind of regain control of the game from a score standpoint.

"Fortunately, we were able to have those turnovers, and not give the ball away, and that was I think ultimately the difference in the game … Now we're looking ahead to Dallas."

New England's next opponent plays Monday night at home versus Buffalo. But Belichick insisted he won't need to watch much of that game to prepare for the Cowboys.

"We know what kind of football team they have. They're very good at everything. That will be a big challenge for us, going down there and competing with the Cowboys. They're doing an outstanding job of pretty much everything from the tapes that I've seen so far this year."

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