Foxborough, Mass. - If nothing else, the New England Patriots remain a confident bunch. For just the second time this season, the Patriots began a week preparing for their next opponent following a loss. With just four days before Sunday's game against the New York Jets, and a chance to clinch a bye through the first round of the playoffs, the Patriots have already moved on from Monday's loss to the Miami Dolphins.
The Patriots showed a sense of calm in the locker room in the moments following Monday's loss, which has carried over to Gillette Stadium. The Patriots are clearly not ready to hit the panic button.
"Our confidence isn't shaken," defensive end Richard Seymour said. "We still know we're a good football team. We have confidence in all the guys on this football team that they can go out and get the job done. You just have to step up and make the plays when they come your way."
Seymour, who described the Patriots as determined but not angry, said improved individual performances will lead to an improvement in their overall performance. The defense was exploited late in Monday's 29-28 loss, blowing an 11-point lead with four minutes to play. After surrendering 478 total yards to Cincinnati the previous week, the dazed Patriots defense will be looking to regain its mid-season form against the Jets.
"We still feel like we can go out and shut teams out," Seymour said. "We're capable of doing it. It's just a matter of going out and getting the job done."
On the other side of the Patriots locker room, safety Rodney Harrison echoed Seymour's thoughts. He acknowledged the Patriots beleaguered secondary, playing without starting cornerbacks Ty Law and Tyrone Poole, but said the team has no choice but to play on. Instead of being devastated by the defeat, it turns out the Patriots reaction has been one of resolve.
"We're 12-2, but we've had some struggles," Harrison said. " We've had some injuries and don't have our starters in there, but that's not an excuse so you have to move on. Anytime you lose, you want to get back out there and play. You want to get back out there and fight. Of course it leaves a bitter taste in our mouths, we're competitive guys. We lost one game. There's no need to panic. We'll leave that up to you guys. We'll relax and we'll do what we have to do up in here."
Not A Statement Game
After a 6-0 start, the Jets were handed their first defeat of the season in a 13-7 loss to the Patriots on Oct. 24. The Jets have gone 5-3 since, and can clinch a playoff berth with a win Sunday. New York running back Curtis Martin doesn't think a win over the Patriots would be a statement for the 10-4 Jets.
"No, we know that we are capable of beating anybody," Martin said. "We just know that we have to be at our best to do it. So, that is the challenge, is being at our best. We are not in a war of words as to whether or not we can beat a team that is good. It is just a matter of going out there and doing it."
The Patriots had a busy day of roster moves Wednesday. Linebacker Justin Kurpeikis and cornerback Omare Lowe were released earlier in the day, only to be re-signed to the practice squad when they both cleared waivers. The Patriots also re-signed wide receiver Kevin Kasper and running back Rabih Abdullah to fill the two spots on the team's 53-man roster. Abdullah, who played in seven games for the Patriots this season, and Kasper, who played in six, both contributed mainly on special teams. Kasper, who has a career average of 24.3 yards on 76 kickoff returns, could fill a void left by the injury to Bethel Johnson after the Patriots struggled on kickoff returns in Monday's loss to Miami.
Running back Kevin Faulk (knee) and safety Je'Rod Cherry (ankle) were added to the Patriots injury report, released Wednesday. The team reported that Faulk, who is listed as questionable, and Cherry, who is probable, both missed a portion of team practice. Wide receiver David Givens (ankle), who played a handful of plays against Miami, and cornerback Randall Gay (arm), who left the game in the third quarter and did not return, are both listed as questionable. Also listed as questionable are tight end Daniel Graham (rib), linebacker Matt Chatham (hamstring), cornerback Asante Samuel (shoulder) and Johnson (thigh). Johnson did not make the trip with the team to Miami.
Law (foot) and safety Dexter Reid (shoulder) both remain doubtful and were reported as missing a portion of practice. Quarterbacks Brady (shoulder) and Jim Miller (shoulder) are once again listed as probable.
Belichick held his usual 10:45 a.m. press conference Wednesday, followed by an open locker room session. Brady also held his press conference in the media workroom at 11:40 a.m. ... Martin and New York Jets head coach Herman Edwards held conference calls Wednesday with the New England press. Edwards expects the Patriots to bounce back and give their best effort in Sunday's match up. "You know how they played Monday is not characteristic of Coach [Belichick's] team up there or their players. They are going to bounce back. That is what they do. That is why they are a great team. We'll get them at their best. We know it, and we have to be at our best if we are going to have a chance to try to win the game." ... Large media contingents surrounded the lockers of Seymour, Harrison, Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi and Rosevelt Colvin. ... The Patriots, who already clinched the AFC East title and one home playoff game, can earn a bye through the first round of the playoffs with a win over the Jets Sunday. ... Rookie safety Guss Scott, the team's third-round draft pick out of Florida who was placed on injured reserve August 24 with a torn ACL, was in the locker room Wednesday. Scott, who had surgery in mid-August, has stayed in the area to rehab. "It's something I just take day-to-day. It's something you have to fight through every day, trying to get better hopefully for next year." ... According to the Boston Globe, the Patriots worked out former Carolina cornerback Hank Poteat and ex-Titans wide receiver Jake Schifino. ... Jets defensive end John Abraham is expected to miss Sunday's game with a knee injury.