It almost has a playoff feel to it, this AFC East tilt with the Dolphins on Sunday.
"Anytime you get to this point in the season, every game has that much more weight," Pro Bowl left tackle Matt Lighttold a large gathering of reporters around his locker.
"They're playing a really good style right now. They obviously gave us a lot of problems in that first game, and it's going to be a big test for us."
Problems in the form of the Wildcat formation. The Pats didn't have any idea it was coming the first time around, but they'll be more than ready for it this weekend. New England will need to play better in every facet of the game, however, if it wants to survive this pivotal road test.
"We didn't get anything going offensively," Light said of the previous game versus Miami. "I'm not going to speak on behalf of the defense or special teams … but collectively, we've all got to do something more. Obviously, all the things we've struggled with, we can't let happen down there. Whether it's the red area, or finishing some of these plays especially on third down. We have a lot of work ahead of us.
"This game," he continued, "being on the road against Miami, that whole atmosphere, if you can't get up for this one …"
Light didn't finish his thought, but he got his point across. This is a big game.
"It feels like a big-time, competitive division race. It's a big game for us," RB Sammy Morrisagreed. "Especially toward the latter part of the season, and being a division game, it's twice as crucial. We've got to play well."
They also have to find a way to prevent Miami's play-making linebacker, Joey Porter, from playing well. The sack-artist has been his usual loquacious self this week, but he's been backing it up on the field all season.
"He's playing some of his best ball," Light observed. "He's obviously the leader, or up there with the leaders in sacks. He's one of those guys that you've just got to get a hat on. You can't give anything to him. He's going to take everything he gets. He's playing well.
"They're a tough team. I mean, they're very physical. All the little things, the technique-type stuff they do up front and with the movement they get out of their linebackers and the speed at which they play, it makes them very difficult. You've got to be very sound in what you do, because they're going to have a good game plan. They're going to be very physical up front and they're not going to make a lot of mistakes. We've got to play really well."
"They do a lot of things well," echoed Morris. "They've got a lot of speed and toughness over there. We didn't execute in the first game, so, another day or preparation should do us well."
Tuesday is normally a day off for the players, but since their last game was on Thursday, they had the entire weekend off, so they now have an extra day to prep for the Dolphins.
"It was good to have the time off, but at the same time, it's good to get going again," added Morris. "Having an extra day of rest and preparation is always a good thing."
Morris looking for more
After a cameo appearance against the Jets last week, Morris hopes he can handle more of the workload in the running game for the Pats this weekend.
"Yeah, I think so. I felt decent last week," Morris said, when asked if he expected extra work this week.
"Today's really our first day to get back out there and have a real practice. We should know more after today."
Tuesday locker room/practice notes
RB LaMont Jordan, who has missed the last several games with a calf injury, was spotted at his locker inside Gillette Stadium today. He was not, however, seen during the media portion of practice later in the day.
The Pats practiced in full pads and indoors today, perhaps in an effort to prepare for the warm weather of South Florida.
Four players, including Jordan, were absent from the start of practice: DL Richard Seymour, LB Eric Alexander, and LB Adalius Thomaswere the others.